We have entered a new year, one that brings optimism but is tinged with trepidation.
Such is the difficulty of 2022, which follows two of the most forgettable — or unforgettable, depending on your perspective — years in memory.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, surging again some 22 months after it first took root in our consciousness. Our state has recently reported record numbers of confirmed infections, with the easily transmitted omicron variant being blamed for the increase. The good news is that the omicron variant appears less likely than previous variants to result in serious illness.
Thanks to vaccines, we are attempting to weather the storm of coronavirus, even with more than 800,000 U.S. deaths attributed to the virus. The Commonwealth Fund, a private health care organization, estimates that more than 1 million COVID deaths and 10 million hospitalizations have been prevented because of vaccines. Vaccinations — and booster shots when necessary — remain the best way to stem the spread of the virus.
We also are attempting to weather the economic and social turmoil brought about by the pandemic, with the new normal increasingly looking similar to the old normal. Masking up has become de rigueur for a trip to the grocery store, but the days of business shutdowns and strict isolation appear to be behind us.
Yet while the pandemic remains prominent in our daily lives, there is reason for the optimism that is inherent in a new year. As journalist Ellen Goodman once put it, “We spend Jan. 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.”
Although it is now Jan. 2, that assessment continues. A new year is the ideal invitation for hope and reflection on new beginnings. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote to John Adams, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
In Clark County, those dreams are inspiring.
The Waterfront Vancouver development continues to grow, soon to be joined by construction next door at the Terminal 1 site. Growth continues along 192nd Avenue near Highway 14 and at other sites throughout the community. And demolition of the Tower Mall site is making way for ambitious plans that will take shape over the next two decades.
Serious discussions about a new Interstate 5 Bridge have commenced, generating anticipation for a project that will provide economic and social benefits for generations.
And the local job market is faring better than those in the rest of the state, Oregon and the nation as a whole.
Those are good signs for a successful 2022 in our community, but a new year is about personal growth, about assessing our past and preparing for our future. It is about resolving to exercise more or eat healthier or quit smoking — even if those resolutions likely won’t survive until February.
Those are common promises that we make to ourselves, but an interesting thing has happened on the way to our broken resolutions. National surveys show that an increased number of people are resolving to spend more time with family or focus on stress management or simply be happier.
The pandemic has helped reshape our priorities — often for the better. It has reminded us of the things that allow us to genuinely find happiness, and that is a reason for the optimism that comes with a turning of the calendar.
In that vein of optimism, we wish a Happy New Year to all of our neighbors in Clark County.