Ronni Hannaman: Lessons learned in Carson City in 2020 (Voices)


That’s the word heard on almost every newscast last week as we wrapped up a tumultuous year. It’s the thought that precedes every thought when speaking of 2020.

There was so much hope for a repeat of the Roaring 20s. Instead, we got a repeat of the Global Pandemic of 1918 which infected more than 500 million around the world in about two years, killing 675,000 Americans and 50 million worldwide, according to the Center for Disease Control.

As of late December, stats show U.S. deaths at 334,000 since Jan. 21, 2020. In 1918, the U.S. had a population of 103.2 million, today we have 3 times that at a current population of over 331 million.

This past year, we have learned how government works — or doesn’t work — in a crisis, even though the Pandemic of 1918 was eerily similar.

We’ve learned how quickly scientists can work in a pandemic giving us all hope.

We’ve learned how deeply divided partisan politics can cause us to hold our collective breaths as we wonder what the next mandate may be.

We learned what businesses are considered “non-essential” and how fast an economy can be shut down, causing mass unemployment overnight. For those listening, we’ve learned history has a way of repeating.

We’ve learned what it means to smile with your eyes since that is all we can see as we collect masks to keep in our pockets and purses, on our desks and strung over our gear shifts or ears.

We’ve learned to do the “two-step” dance around people coming in our direction. We’ve learned the term “social distancing.” We’re even trained our ears to understand the muffles coming from beneath masks since we can’t read lips. We’ve learned to wash, wash, wash our hands. We’ve learned taking a morning temperature is as important as taking our vitamins.

And we’ve learned to stay at home while missing all those wonderful annual events canceled due to COVID-19. We missed seeing acquaintances we only see at Taste of Downtown or Nevada Day. We missed seeing the kids sing holiday tunes on the Capitol steps this Christmas. We missed sending our kids to school. We missed our family during the holidays. We missed going out to our favorite restaurants or to live concerts. Those who loved to travel had to curb their wanderlust.

We’ve learned to cook. We’re learning what our kids are learning and that we are not “smarter than a fifth grader.” We are learning to be patient and kind. We are learning what it means to hope. We are learning to shop online.

We are learning through the internet and streaming services we can be kept in the loop and entertained. We’ve learned what it means to be a Zoom Zombie. And we’ve learned some jobs can be done just as well remotely — in comfortable duds.

We’ve sadly learned what it means to say goodbye remotely to loved ones struck down by the virus. We’ve learned how passionate people can be as they destroy private and public property in the name of justice. We’ve learned about hate, love and hope. We are relearning the meaning of “family.”

Through it all, Carson City was still on quite the roll. Thanks to businesses still considered “essential,” the revitalization of the downtown and South Carson Street continued.

Construction continued as though nothing had happened other than workers were now wearing mandated masks. Apartments and new homes continued to rise out of the ground in anticipation of another growth spurt as Californians continue to flee their once golden state.

Manufacturing continues to be robust, and no government employees lost their jobs. On the other hand, the retail and hospitality industry was the hardest hit and will take time to recover.

For many, it feels as though we were sleepwalking through 2020 with the hope that 2021 and the coming of the vaccine will snap us out of our confused doldrums. This year is FINALLY over!

As our New Year’s message, the Chamber asks each resident to be mindful of the mask mandate, the hand washing routine and social distancing so that we can curb this virus to be able to get back to being the vibrant community we all know and love.

History has taught us the strength of the human spirit from those who went through this same type of pandemic in 1918.

Ronni Hannaman is the executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.


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