I have never thought much about New Year’s resolutions. They always seem about the same. Mine have been mostly about losing weight by eating better and exercising more. And then there has always been to work smarter and play harder. The resolutions may have helped a little, but everything has pretty much stayed the same.

But if there has ever been a time for resolutions to make a difference, this may be the year. And even if we didn’t make them by Dec. 31, late ones can still make a difference.

Everyone is probably glad that the year 2020 is over. Surely 2021 will be better. But it all depends on how we handle the coronavirus.

I have great hope, especially since we now have several options of vaccines for COVID-19. Last week Massac Memorial Hospital received 100 doses of vaccine and gave shots to hospital employees who are on the front line of dealing with this disease.

No one knows when additional vaccine will be available. When it is, the shots will undoubtedly go to employees of police and the fire departments, people who work in doctors’ offices, and others who have high chances of being around people who may have coronavirus.

So, when will the rest of us get shots? No one knows. But once the frontline people are all covered, people 75 and over will be next in line. Then, as more vaccine is available, younger people will be eligible for shots.

Will the shots work? Well first let’s look at what hasn’t worked.

With the closing of some businesses and requests for people to wear masks and keep their distances, there have been almost 1 million cases of coronavirus in Illinois. And almost 1700 people in Illinois have died.

In the southern seven counties, almost 5000 people have been infected and 76 have died.

Massac County has had an unbelievable 902 cases of the virus and 26 of our citizens, mostly older ones, are no longer with us.

I think in places like grocery stores, most people are now wearing masks. But some are not. From what I have seen, in our bars and restaurants, the masks come off very quickly and stay off even when people are not eating or drinking.

So, we know that what we have been doing has not worked very well. With the vaccines, we have a second chance.

The vaccines will not really work to knock out the pandemic until we get approximately 80% of the public inoculated. Until then, we have to double down on wearing masks anytime we are indoors with anyone who is not a regular household member. And we need to keep as much distance from other people as possible and wash our hands frequently.

I recently went to my first funeral for someone who died of COVID-19. It was not here, but in my hometown of Calhoun, Ky. The funeral was limited to family only. I wasn’t actually a blood relative but was allowed to attend because I was almost family. I had known the deceased, Janice Young, for over 70 years. She was my babysitter when I was about two years old and she was only around 12. A little later she went to work in my parents’ newspaper and was there for over 40 years.

Unfortunately, Janice had been in a nursing home for years and was in very bad health. When the virus swept into the nursing home, she had no way to fight it off.

Here in Massac County, the same thing has happened to our older citizens, whether living at a nursing facility or in their own homes.

The way we can make 2021 much better than last year is to follow the health department guidelines about being around others, and to take the vaccine shots as soon as they are available.

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