David Rupkalvis

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In many ways, 2020 will be viewed as one of the most challenging years in U.S. history. I know from a personal perspective, it has been more of a challenge than I could have ever dreamed of 12 months ago when we rang in the new year.

But as I write this on New Year’s Eve, I can’t help but think there was a lot of good mixed in with the horror of COVID-19.

For one, 2020 brought me to Coos Bay and the Oregon coast. As I have said before, my wife and I had long dreamed of moving to and living along the Oregon coast, we just needed the opportunity. That chance came thanks to The World, and as we enter 2021 in a few hours, I remain extremely grateful.

Oregon is everything I heard it would be and hoped it would be. When you can literally walk in the mountains and onto the beach in a matter of minutes, it certainly feels like Heaven. And the people here have been gracious, understanding, open and thoughtful. I am thrilled this is my new home and I can’t wait to learn more and do more in the coming year.

In the future, when the world looks back at COVID and how it was responded to, I am curious what the thought process will be. Did we as a country go too far when we locked down businesses and asked people to stay at home or did we not do enough to protect the most vulnerable in our community? Or maybe some of both.

Having lived in Texas, where things are mostly open and have been since the summer, and now in Oregon, where restrictions, at least on paper, are much stronger, I have seen both sides. I can’t tell you which option was better.

Obviously, the economy in Texas has recovered faster, but deaths have mounted up quickly as well. A few days ago, I checked on the COVID situation in Val Verde County, where I have family. Coos County and Val Verde County are almost the same size in population.

As I write this, Coos County has recorded nine deaths linked to COVID. In Val Verde County, there have been more than 160. Is the difference just linked to government regulations? No, the demographics are far different and that played a role, but government restrictions might have a hand in it.

I do feel confident that when we look back at 2020 in the future, one thing that will stick out is the miraculous work done by companies to create a COVID vaccine. Living in the middle of COVID, it felt like it took forever to make a vaccine, but in reality, it was lightning fast. In less than nine months, at least two companies started from scratch and created a vaccine that has passed scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad. I know that long-term tests have not been done, but most medical professionals are confident the vaccine is safe and effective.

COVID also taught us all how “essential” most people are. We all knew doctors, nurses, police and firefighters were essential, but now we understand how essential it is to have good people at grocery stores and even convenience stores. I have always believed every job has value, but never has that been proven true more than in 2020. The janitors proved their worth day in and day out by making the facility clean for all of us. How about the small business owners who have overcome the yo-yo of shutdowns and openings and more shutdowns? Amazing people.

As we move into 2020, my hope is we will have papers galore where COVID-19 is not even mentioned. As more people are vaccinated, I hope and pray this virus is something we can leave behind us. Wouldn’t it be nice to pick up a copy of The World and the stories are focused on people in the community, things happening around us and events that are upcoming and not on sickness, death and businesses locked down?

I am looking forward to that day.

I can’t predict the future, but I can say I am hopeful as we move into a new year that things will be much better. It may take some time, but we will get through this and we will persevere.

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