Exactly one year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic upended all our lives. We have seen so much hardship and heartbreak in the time since — families who lost loved ones, business owners who were forced to close or suffered heavy losses, parents and children whose schools were shut down, and many others.
But as I reflect on the past year, it’s hard not to also think about the many Racine County residents and businesses who rose to the occasion and helped their community in their time of need.
I think about people like Jim Deibler. Jim, the owner of Sew ‘N Save Racine, had the sewing equipment, expertise, and charitable spirit to help manufacture thousands of face masks for those working on the front lines of the public health emergency.
I think about people like Nathan Libbey. A graduate of Burlington High School, and the Business Development Director at Arizona-based laboratory Pathogen DX, Nathan helped develop an improved coronavirus test to better detect the disease and keep people healthy.
I think about families like the Wisebrockers of Racine who, on their own, reached out to the Racine County Human Services Department to help families struggling during the pandemic. They provided seven families who utilize county programs with food, diapers, baby formula and other items – bringing some of our staff to tears.
I think about our incredible first responders, health care workers, and all those who are working to keep us safe. I salute Racine County essential workers who have continued serving the public during the pandemic – like our snowplow drivers, who worked around the clock in February battling multiple heavy snowstorms.
We are a resilient Racine County full of wonderful, caring people. Although COVID-19 is not over, I believe there are several reasons to be optimistic about the road ahead.
Vaccinations. Racine County is seeing a steady increase in vaccine supply, eligible populations, and number of avenues available to residents to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine.
On Tuesday, a community-based vaccination clinic will open at Regency Mall. I encourage any resident interested in a vaccine to register for the clinic now through the Wisconsin Vaccine Registry at vaccinate.wi.gov. Those who register will receive an invitation to make an appointment after they become eligible.
Declining cases. To be clear, we are not out of the woods, and we must remain vigilant to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. However, it’s encouraging to see cases have fallen substantially from the high numbers of late fall.
After reaching averages of more than 220 cases per day in November, we are now seeing daily case averages of less than 20. As new variants continue to emerge, I hope we continue safe and healthy habits to help avoid another surge of cases.
Economic recovery. Not only do dropping case numbers and rising vaccinations benefit our health, but these trends also go a long way toward reestablishing consumer confidence and helping our local businesses recover.
Many of our businesses have struggled amid various restrictions. Our local businesses are the backbone of our communities, and it’s important we all do whatever we can to support them through these difficult times.
We have weathered plenty of storms in the past, and we’ll have hard times again in the future. But as we enter spring, I am cautiously optimistic that brighter days are ahead. Racine County remains committed to doing all we can to help our residents and businesses recover and finally reach the end of this pandemic.
Jonathan Delagrave is Racine County executive.