The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus continues to be a threat, one year after arriving in the four-county GLOW region.
The wearing of face masks and social distancing — something many people hadn’t heard of until 12 months ago — continue to be a part of our daily lives. This past year has been one of bewilderment, pain, fear, anger, sorrow and death.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has left no one unscathed. This has been a horrific experience that few of us have endured in our liftimes.
Many have shown courage through the pandemic, and among the challenges there has also been some triumphs.
In an astounding feat, pharmaceutical companies took months — not the usual years — to develop not one, but three approved vaccines to blunt the effects of COVID-19. And countless acts of compassion have been undertaken by people across the country to help alleviate the suffering of those in need.
This week, the Caledonia-Mumford community is lit up in green as the community honors those who helped others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is our way to express our appreciation to our entire school community. For making the best as it can be under the circumstances,” said Caledonia-Mumford Central School District Superintendent Robert Molisani.
The week-long event began Sunday night and runs through Friday. In addition to green lights, there will be green lawn signs and T-shirts.
The recognition comes one year after the school district — and others across Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties — essentially shut down — closing its buildings to the public and switching to remote instruction for students.
Switching from in-person to remote learning is something that Molisani says the school district was always prepared to do, but acknowledged it could not have happened so quickly, had it not been for the support of the entire community.
“The whole community just came together to support each other. If you told me that we were going to move to an online platform, I would have told you that it would have taken a year to a year and a half to make sure we were going to do it and do it right,” said Molisani.
The ability of schools and businesses to adapt show the resiliency and determination of our communities. It’s part of the DNA of GLOW region residents.
Yet, there were also challenges. Many people lost jobs – some temporarily, others permanently — due to COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions that made it difficult for non-essential businesses to sustain themselves.
Nursing homes and their residents were among those who suffered the most, with many residents going months without being able to see family members. Controversial decisions by New York State are being blamed for the high number of COVID-19 related deaths among nursing home residents.
The first New Yorker tested positive for COVID-19 on March 1, 2020 — a then-39-year-old New York City health care worker who had just returned from working in Iran. She and her husband were sent to their Manhattan home to recover for 14 days.
The first confirmed cases in the GLOW region were reported March 17, 2020, in Genesee and Wyoming counties. Orleans and Livingston counties reported their first cases on March 19, 2020.
Since then, more than 1.7 million people have tested positive, according to data from the state Department of Health. That includes 13,461 in the GLOW region as of Monday, according to data provided by local county health departments.
The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccination in December brought with it hope — and progress — that the virus may finally be put at bay.
At the same time, the slow rollout of the vaccine due to limited supply and high demand has brought new frustrations.
The good news is that the state’s overall COVID-19 infection rate has been declining. It was 4.19% as of 2 p.m. March 13, down from a peak of 7.94% on Jan. 4 following the expected spike from fall, winter, and the accompanying holiday season.
We all should reflect on this past year and reach out (safely) to those who have been affected the hardest. The response to the pandemic has had its share of mistakes, and we must work more diligently to address those issues.
But there also is much to laud as individuals, organizations, companies and public bodies have done what they can to assist people who need help. This week, The Daily News and its sibling publication, The Livingston County News, are looking back – and ahead – at how the pandemic has shaped our lives.
We still have a ways to go before this crisis ends. Everyone should continue to follow safety protocols. At the same time, we are able to cling to the hope of better days that will eventually arrive.