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Editorial: Prioritizing problems for 2021

It’s 2021! Everything is going to change, right?

Well, let’s not put too much pressure on the healing power of flipping a page on a calendar.

The New Year is definitely a time of hope and optimism. Even when things are good, there’s something about New Year’s Day that just feels like a reset button — a way to erase mistakes and focus on the things you want to do better.

But 2020 was not a normal year. It was a challenge where we were asked to do more — elect a president and perform a census count — but in short order, the field of play changed. Only four primary or caucus events in the 50 states and various territories were held before the coronavirus pandemic changed “get out and vote!” to “stay home and vote.”

With unemployment still high — another 787,000 applied nationwide just last week — at the same time the U.S. is approaching 350,000 covid-19 deaths, it is naive to think writing a different number on your checks will work magic.

But as with every new year, it can help us focus our priorities.

The pandemic, of course, continues to be in the top spot, but how it is approached can be tackled. With two vaccines in hand and another on the horizon, a large part of the work of the last 10 months is done. Now it has to be less about development than distribution, which needs work.

There needs to be attention to helping businesses stay open. There needs to be a helping hand for all of the other dominoes knocked over by the economic aspect of the pandemic: rent and mortgages, utilities, tuition, nonprofits. And maybe more than anything, we need to solve the hunger that is creating unprecedented demand on food banks.

The real issue is that none of these things is new. The pandemic put a spotlight on all of the things that were just a paycheck away from breaking down for so many, and the fact that the economy depends as much on the people as the people do on the economy.

If 2020 was about a disease that never had been seen before, 2021 should be about fixing the problems that should have been seen all along.

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