Omicron has bulldozed into our lives like an unwelcome guest, bringing with it flashbacks of last year when morale plumbed new depths, and upsetting the holiday and travel plans many of us had been so looking forward to.
Like everyone, I have felt emotional turmoil over news of this emerging pandemic threat. I am cancelling get-togethers and a trip to Vancouver with my wife to see family as I try to reduce my exposure and keep myself and those around me safe.
While I reluctantly accept the jarring nature of this new but familiar reality, I am comforted by knowing that we are fundamentally in a better place than we were 12 months ago.
I urge us all to be mindful of the position of strength from which approach 2022.
We have effective vaccines and vaccination rates that are the envy of the world. Children five to 11 are now being inoculated. Third doses, or boosters, are available to everyone over 18 and emerging data suggests this is good protection against severe disease. Antivirals which have also shown to be successful in limiting the course of the disease are on their way.
Although we had been enjoying the loosening of public health measures, we have muscle memory, and that is taking over and allowing us to adapt as they change.
Progress is never even.
But we have momentum, and it’s propelling us forward. We should have open optimism that a return to a new normal will come, despite this setback. We got as far as we have because we believed in the science. We got here because we used the public health tools that were proven to work.
We got here because of health-care workers.
I thank the public for their trust in health care. And I thank the physicians and other health-care workers who have devoted themselves to our care and are being asked to rise to the occasion again. Those on the front lines may be tired but they continue to stand with us and to lift us up.
It would be easy to get dragged down by the modelling data, the rising infection rates and the return of restrictions.
The pandemic has touched every single person around the world. And, just as in our own jurisdictions, it doesn’t matter whether we are young or old; living in a rural community or a city; in the north, south, east or west — no one has escaped its toll.
I believe it’s this common experience that has helped get us through.
It has focused us on our common humanity. In the true spirit of the season, our past two years leave no doubt that our well-being depends on one another and looking out for our neighbour is looking out for ourselves.
We can never forget the suffering and loss the pandemic has cast on so many, but together we can weather this storm.
Even though the way we celebrate the holidays is still not all we want, and even though 2022 is a shape-shifter that will have its hills and valleys, let’s not get pulled down by pandemic fatigue.
Let’s draw on that common humanity and vision for a better future to motivate us to get through the hurdles we’re most certainly going to face.
Our experience in 2022 is eventually going to be different — better — than in 2021, because our faith in science and public health, and the many sacrifices we have all made in the last two years have brought us to firmer ground.
If we continue to use our tools, follow public health guidelines and pull together, 2022 will be better than 2021, and 2023 will be better still.
Used with permission from the Hamilton Spectator: thespec.com. Copyright Hamilton Spectator. All rights reserved.