Though we have rung in a New Year, we know 2021 will look a lot like 2020 ... at least, at first.

That's a grim reminder for the New Year – a time that is usually viewed as a fresh start. 

But there are a lot of grim reminders.

South Georgia Medical Center has experienced an increase of COVID-19-related patients in the past week. Lowndes County coronavirus cases, as well as the cases in the state and nation, have been rising. 

So have the number of virus-related deaths statewide and nationwide.

The 2020 election, which for most Georgians must seem like the election that will never end, continues with the Senate runoff races kicking off the New Year. 

The runoff election is scheduled for Jan. 5 – a race that is not only important for Georgia representation in the Senate but an election that has attracted national attention, and likely ensuing scrutiny, as the results will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate.

So, for the start of 2021, we must continue our civic duty by following the mantras of 2020: wear a mask, regularly wash hands with hot water and soap, keep a social distance of a least six feet from others, avoid large gatherings, vote.

But there are signs of hope in the clouds of tragedy and chaos.

Vaccines have been developed – with more expected – and are being distributed to counter COVID-19.

The never-ending election should end Jan. 5.

Will things go as scheduled? Will the results of the election be challenged? So many questions. 

If anything, 2020 taught us that we don't always have the answers. 

The past year taught us that things can change dramatically. That things we thought were guaranteed are not guaranteed. That people are not as reasonable as we hoped. That people are more resilient than we ever dreamed.

The best lessons of 2020 may be the ability to carry on, to look forward despite the gathering gloom, to care for others above self, to adapt to what may seem like insurmountable challenges and opposition.

If enough of us can commit to these ideals, if more of us can dedicate ourselves to following health guidelines and the Golden Rule, 2021 should be a better year.

We hope. We pray. We do.

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