As Washington moves into Phase 3, there is a visceral relief in the air. This is an exciting and essential step for getting our state and local communities back to some semblance of normalcy and one that we have all anxiously awaited. However, while things get better in our immediate worlds, it is important not to lose sight of the global impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Pandemics do not exist strictly within borders. Regions of the world already struggling under the grips of poverty are being hit disproportionately by this crisis. Overpopulation, poor sanitation and infrastructure, and insufficient access to health care and vaccines only exacerbate the pandemic.

It is difficult to think about this when we have had such a tough year ourselves. It is difficult to think about this stark reality when we still have so much work to do to improve the economy of our community. However, in order to fully heal, we need to think about what it truly means to struggle, and what a healed world truly looks like. We must acknowledge that our work is not done quite yet. Just like pandemics, compassion and empathy should know no borders.

Kelsey Iversen-Cartwright, Bellingham