New Year’s Day 2022 dawns with people once again worried about the pandemic – and at the same time tired of being worried about the pandemic. The tension and stress of the last two years has been exhausting.

But by most accounts, we seem to be heading toward a much better place, economically and as far as prospects for better public health, than we were on this day last year. It is something we all have to realize and remember.

The events of the past several weeks of been a body blow to our battered and bruised psyches. The latest variant of COVID-19, called omicron, has exploded across the world and across our community.

It is tempting to sink down into despair, frightened that all the progress of the last 13 months might be lost. But it has not been.

The reality is that the COVID-19 virus is probably going to be circulating for a long time. Most scientists believe that the virus is going to be endemic in our lives, like many viruses, but that its danger will wane.

Omicron does spread at alarming rates, but for vaccinated people, the danger of serious illness or death is much less than with earlier variants. The vaccinations already in the arms of millions of people are showing themselves to be a very effective shield against the disease.

If you are fully vaccinated and exercise reasonable caution during these outbreaks, you have a very good chance of staying safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is easing the rules and restrictions on how long exposed and mildly infected people must isolate.

The Food and Drug Administration is approving treatments for the virus that will keep even more people safe from hospitalization and death.

We will probably have to learn to live with the virus, but as we do, it will enable the economy in the United State and around the world to continue its recovery from the COVID depression.

The global financial giant JP Morgan in December issued this forecast for 2022:

“After two years of uncertainty and lockdowns that resulted in the largest drop in global GDP history, the 2022 outlook is looking brighter. As pandemic volatility continues to fade, J.P. Morgan Global Research forecasts are upbeat, with expectations of further equity market upside and above-potential growth. Earnings growth also looks better than expected, supply shocks are easing, the China and Emerging Market (EM) backdrop is set to improve and consumer spending habits should continue to normalize.”

Jurrien Timmer, a top analyst at investment firm Fidelity, is similarly optimistic, writing:

“Since the brief-but-sharp 35 percent decline almost two years ago, U.S. stocks have risen to record highs, thanks in part to the timely and massive fiscal and monetary policy response to COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns. Now as 2022 begins, I expect the markets to mean-revert back to trend-like growth.”

Jobs are also returning, and experts are predicting a robust employment picture for the coming year, with millions of new jobs being created.

Even the forecasts for inflation have improved. The investment firm Kiplinger said a few days ago: “expect inflation to ease in 2022 as supply shortages get better or end, and prices of used cars and the like come down from their stratospheric peaks.”

Despite the travel disruptions over the holiday, long lines for COVID testing and the scary spread of the omicron virus, there is reason to believe that the New Year will be a better one, and that is our hope for the Frederick community, our state and nation.

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