Finally, Reasons For Hope

Finally, Reasons For Hope

VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph Northam inspects one of the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a hospital in Richmond on Monday. This initial allotment of 72,150 doses was scheduled to arrive at health systems across the state by Tuesday and may arrive at Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital by the end of the week.

As an extraordinarily trying year winds down to an end, are we finally seeing at least a faint glimpse of a light at the end of a very long tunnel?

Even as the death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. eclipsed 300,000, health care workers on Monday began receiving the first doses of a vaccine that promises to bring an end to the pandemic sometime in the up coming year.

With the economy continuing to reel from the effects of the coronavirus, a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers appears to be making real progress toward adopting a bill that would bring relief to the millions of Americans who have been thrown out of work during the past nine months.

And, despite weeks of denial from the president that he had lost his bid for re-election and attempts by his supporters to challenge the results in court, the Electoral College on Monday affirmed that our democratic institutions are indeed intact. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris were formally chosen in the Electoral College by a vote of 306-232, reflecting what had transpired in the election six weeks earlier.

Although 2020 has been one of the most difficult years most of us can remember, with disease and death, isolation and despair, a divided electorate and clashes over civil rights predominant in the news, we have reason to believe that better times may be in the offing.

Fast-track approval of the PfizerBioNTech vaccine, which is being administered initially to health care workers and residents of nursing homes, is expected to be followed by similar approval later this week of a second vaccine developed by biotechnology company Moderna. If the vaccines work as anticipated, and 75 to 80 percent of Americans are vaccinated in the coming months, the pandemic should be well under control by mid-2021.

After months of an impasse, and with millions of Americans set to lose unemployment benefits shortly, Congress is believed to be close to finally passing coronavirus relief legislation this week. A bipartisan group of legislators indicates they are on the cusp of breaking through gridlock to pass a $908 billion measure. If enacted, help could be on the way for small businesses, the unemployed, schools and vaccine distribution.

Relief is what a lot of people felt Monday when members of the Electoral College in each of our 50 states met and accorded their votes to the candidates based on last month’s election results. How those votes were to be allotted has been known for weeks, and Monday’s procedures would ordinarily have been mere formalities, had not dozens of lawsuits been filed challenging the results. Claims of widespread fraud were made without providing substantiating evidence.

Sadly, 126 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including our own Congressman Ben Cline, joined an amicus brief last week in support of a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas asking the U.S. Supreme Court to nullify the elections results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia. The lawsuit was, in effect, seeking the disenfranchisement of millions of Americans and was, not surprisingly, dispatched quickly by the high court on Friday.

It is truly discouraging to see so much rancor among those who can’t accept the results of an election that did not go their way. Still, we remain hopeful that we as a people can come together and support the incoming administration as it grapples with the myriad problems facing our country in the year ahead.

Yes, we do believe we can ascertain a barely perceptible light at the end of what has seemed like an interminable tunnel.

The News-Gazette

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