Ayear ago, COVID-19 turned the world upside down. Many countries and states told people to shelter inside for weeks, stop visiting family and friends, and limit trips outside to essential needs only. At the time, shuttering most businesses and activities for two weeks seemed ludicrous to some. Twelve months later, much of life as we knew it before the pandemic remains closed or restricted in some way.
The human toll of the virus has been horrendous. More than half a million Americans died. Hundreds of them lived in the Inland Northwest. Many people have felt lonely and isolated, and mental health and substance-abuse problems have soared. Hundreds of thousands were put out of work temporarily or permanently in just Washington and Idaho.
But a year into the pandemic, it's not all bad news. Things are finally starting to turn around: Vaccine distribution is ramping up, and there's hope for some semblance of a "normal" summer. Some larger outdoor gatherings are now allowed, and if trends continue, there's hope this year will be much, much better. But the strong community support the Inland Northwest has shown will need to continue as the after-effects of this once-in-a-century event shake out.