2020 was rough, but it could have been a lot rougher. Turned out that Boca Raton, Florida was a good place to be in a very bad time.
Our city and its facilities were closed from late March to late April. But we were never confined to our homes—a true “lockdown.” Grocery stores were open, many of them providing special shopping hours for the most at risk among us. You could even buy toilet paper! By early May, public parks, beaches, places of worship, restaurants, bars, hair salons, florists, dry cleaners and other small businesses, movie theaters, bowling alleys, parlors of all sorts, and eventually schools were reopened to the public. Sure, we had to wear masks and keep our social distance (and still do), but those are small things to ask in return for getting your life back.
Compare and contrast this with life up north, out west, or “across the Pond.” If you live in LA, you are still confined to your home except for “essential” travel; schools are closed; restaurants and small businesses are closed, many of them for good. And the pandemic is still raging—particularly in the poorer neighborhoods. Hospitals are crowded. Fear and anger dominate, and there is a serious effort underway to recall the Governor. New York state and NYC engaged in some of the most draconian anti-Covid efforts which (except in nursing homes) probably saved lives—it is difficult to prove a negative—but at a cost of $ billions to the economy and the total destruction of the New York lifestyle. It may be a long road back.
Look at Europe. My friends in London, Paris and Madrid have endured rolling “lockdowns” of varying severity, depending on whether they have surpassed certain thresholds of Covid-19 cases. We are talking about not being able to leave your residence for anything not considered essential. And the authorities are enforcing these mass house arrests with hefty fines. London is in total lockdown as I write this, with fears of a new mutant virus strain haunting the populace. Sweden, one of the few countries in Europe that has remained open, and where masks are not required, has Covid cases and fatalities aplenty. So Swedes are going about their daily lives, but scared to death of each other.
The vaccine is the light at the end of the dark tunnels in which many find themselves as 2021 begins. The development of the vaccine was truly amazing, but the rollout has been slow and spotty. This is certainly true in Palm Beach County, although shots are available if you are over 65 and are doggedly persistent and patient. Almost everyone expects that the distribution of the vaccine will improve. While this may not “crush” Covid, it at least will make it a manageable virus like influenza. Sadly, some people will no longer have lives or livelihoods when that happy day arrives. Some politicians will probably find themselves out of work as well. The virus has exposed preconditions in institutions as well as individuals.
In the meantime, if you are fortunate or cautious enough not to have fallen ill, at least in Boca you have had the opportunity to enjoy life (almost) to the fullest. As you look around at other countries, states and cities, be thankful that you live here.
And the weather’s not bad either.