A man in Washington state was diagnosed with the first case of COVID-19 in the United States on January 20, 2020. Since then, more than 24 million Americans have contracted the virus, over 400,000 have lost their lives, and every single person in this nation has experienced the aftershock of this first case.

The past year has been challenging for everyone. From fundraisers and volunteering, teachers going the extra mile to students trying their best, businesses adapting and officials advocating, we as a community have weathered the year with generosity and compassion. All it takes is enough of us coming together to help all of us.

Thank you for wearing a mask in public. Thank you for that extra twenty seconds you take to wash your hands. Thank you for staying home or getting tested when you are sick. Thank you for keeping your gatherings small, outdoors, and distanced. Thank you for your prayers and meditations and kind gestures. Thank you for getting out for a walk, taking a needed nap, and opening the windows for a bit of fresh air. Thank you for embracing jigsaw puzzles and starting family bands and baking bread and adopting pets, and, of course, sharing it all with us on social media.

2021 will be another year of firsts—our first community-based vaccination clinics, our first restorations of in-person learning, our first return to offices and new jobs, and a new awareness of how fragile the circumstances are for some in our community. Some of us have experienced profound sadness and loss, but many have taken opportunity to learn and grow stronger after being disrupted by circumstances beyond our control.

We are honored to learn, grow, and work with you to increase our resilience as a community. Thank you Kitsap County for all that you have done, and all that you will do to help us get through this together!