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Cate Hewitt Looks to the New Year.

2021 was a year of trying to return to pre-pandemic times — back when masks were unnecessary, social distancing was an unknown term, and no one questioned whether it was safe to gather with family at the holidays. 

It became a year of developing a “risk budget” to assess how safe an event or place will be because, as a friend recently said, “We cannot predict the future arcs of Covid surges, and we cannot control the caution levels of other people.”

I’ve been cautious since the pandemic began. I wore a mask indoors at town meetings and the grocery store. I washed my hands a lot. I avoided large public gatherings,  airports, concerts and yoga studios. I attended meetings by zoom whenever possible. 

I scheduled my vaccine doses as soon as they were available, followed by a booster shot in the fall. 

The people in my “pod” did the same, and I thought I was safe. 

But, the day after Christmas, I had a slight sore throat and was beginning to feel achy and tired. I thought it was just a cold. I gargled with warm salt water and swallowed vitamin C tablets — my usual formula for blasting germs away — and went to bed early. 

The next morning I felt worse – a raging sore throat combined with deep bronchial cough, a terrible headache, painful body aches and intense fatigue. 

I had read about breakthrough infections and had always felt sure I’d never experience one, but the two pink lines on my rapid at-home Covid test indicated otherwise.

The visit planned with my family was immediately cancelled. Christmas week became a solitary non-celebration of Tylenol, ibuprofen and take-out soup. 

The upside of a week of sick days — on the couch, under two blankets, with my beloved dog — was the time I had to reflect on 2021. 

At year’s end in 2020, I said “normal” would likely never return, and I still believe that as we step into 2022. I think the uncertainty of the course of the pandemic will continue to affect the local, state, national and global economies, creating new questions for journalists to explore. 

As a “zoning geek,” I’m especially interested in how towns and the state will move forward with development amidst the pandemic and beyond. I hope to talk with more CT Examiner readers about what issues matter to them in the coming year.  Here’s wishing health and happiness to all in 2022!  May we find ways to spend more time with our loved ones, explore new ideas and find resilience in a changing world. 

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