Is that … optimism … in the air?
The sun is shining. The birds are singing. In twin announcements last week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he will ease restrictions on public activity throughout the state on March 22 and directed Washington’s public schools offer some in-person learning for all students by April 19.
In a televised address Thursday, President Joe Biden said he is directing states to open COVID-19 vaccination to all adults by May Day, vowing there will be sufficient vaccine to inoculate every American this summer. What a welcome feeling — hope — after such a desolate year.
Inslee’s announcement that all counties will move to Phase 3 of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery brings once-common joys we no longer take for granted. Outdoor venues can open to spectators at 25% capacity, meaning that Mariners fans will once again head to T-Mobile Park to hear the crack of the bat and follow the graceful arc of a deep fly ball.
OL Reign fans will cheer from the stands at Cheney Stadium. Sounders will start their season to scarves up and chanting crowds. Across the state, parents and grandparents will watch young athletes take the field.
Friends will gather indoors at restaurants, retailers, bowling alleys, gyms and other venues opened at up to 50% capacity.
Students in districts that have been slow to resume in-person learning may be able to lift heads from computer screens for a few hours of safe classroom instruction, if the districts follow the governor’s directive. High schools will honor graduating seniors with traditional pomp and circumstance, if in smaller, socially distanced ceremonies. These may be tiny steps toward whatever normal is at the end of this tribulation, but they feel like gifts.
Last March feels like another lifetime. Remember field hospitals? Store shelves bereft of toilet paper? The worst-case scenarios and fear of the unknown? We have come so far, still this spring dawns bittersweet. More than 5,100 Washingtonians are dead from coronavirus. The social, emotional and financial damage is almost too great to measure.
The pandemic is far from over. It’s important to be cautious: washing hands, wearing masks and keeping social distance. But as the days grow longer and the clear skies turn the bottomless blue of springtime, remember how we rallied. How we helped each other weather this once-in-a-generation test of our resolve.