With Christmas behind them and a New Year just beginning, beleaguered Bucks and Montgomery county residents now try to resurrect dreams shattered by a virulent virus in anticipation 2021 will be a bright new voyage.

Though they’ve a novel vaccine and pandemic practices like mask-wearing on their side, the battle back will be harsh. Countless already have been infected and hospitalized; more than 330,000 killed nationwide, and the U.S. economy devastated. The unseen enemy still exists and is set to pounce. Said Dr. David Damsker, director, Bucks County Health Department: “It’s when you take your mask off and let your guard down.”

Letting down “the guard” and surrendering gains made against the prevailing COVID-19 is not what should happen in 2021. Bucks, Montgomery and the entire nation must continue with safeguards like the masks, social distancing and avoiding large shared-air gatherings if they are to slow and eventually put down this deadly disease. Give up and do nothing means a return to the unpleasant starting line.

“Just because someone’s allowed to do something doesn’t mean they shouldn’t follow all the rules to contain spread,” said Damsker.

COVID-19’s behavior when the guard came down over Thanksgiving holiday demonstrates why all must keep up the fight in the new year. Positive cases in Bucks, for example, jumped from an average of 2,200 a week to more than 3,300 a week. From Dec. 4 to 16, there were 6,544 new cases in Bucks. As was typical countywide during the Dec. 4–16 period, new cases jumped significantly in Southampton (up 436 to 1,637 total), Warminster (up 434 to 1,581 total) and Warrington (up 228 to 957 total).

Said Dr. Gerald Wydro, chairman, emergency medicine, Jefferson Health Northeast: “We saw a huge bump after Thanksgiving. It just went up very, very rapidly. With Christmas and New Year’s, if there’s a lack of mitigation on that side, it’s not too long before we’ll see a big bump again.”

Damsker said allowing more people into one’s “circle” heightens the chance of infection and provides proof of the need for masks and distancing.

“When you bring in people outside your bubble, you’re increasing the risk,” he said. “”You’re going to get COVID, most likely, from people you know -- not from the stranger in Giant. Not from the person you walk past. It’s when your mask is off and you let your guard down.”

The arrival of a new calendar year doesn’t mean we should ignore the ugly pandemic months of 2020, but learn from them. It’s clear everyone now must keep up the COVID-19 fight and not let down their guard until the vaccine is readily available and used, and the enduring pandemic finally fades away.

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