It is a new year, but we are faced with old problems.
There were countless messages, online and in real life, saying good riddance to 2020 and hoping 2021 will be the annus mirabilis to the annus horribilis that we just endured.
The reality is — and we can see it in daily COVID-19 case counts and monthly overdose death counts and in many other statistics that illustrate the aches and pains of this era — 2021 will be no better than 2020 until, possibly, late in the year.
The one-year anniversary of the pandemic being declared by the World Health Organization is two months away and, despite the arrival of vaccines (and due to their slow rollout), the situation in B.C., across Canada and in much of the world is as bad as it has been.
The five-year anniversary of the provincial government declaring a public health emergency due to the overdose death crisis is three months from now and we are coming off the deadliest year ever. Despite warnings, changes in policy and much more spending, the situation only grows ever-more bleak.
On the latter issue, the one action that could make a huge difference — and save countless lives — remains an idea, that of decriminalizing simple possession of hard drugs so users can access a safe supply without worrying about breaking the law.
On the former issue, all we can do is wait and hope — hope the vaccine rollout speeds up, hope the new variants are not vaccine-resistant, hope as many people as possible get immunized and hope enough of us follow the existing rules so the rising case and death counts are held in check.
Happy new year — we hope.