The top story of 2020, of the decade, and of the new millennium, has to be the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Good news finally arrived in the last month of the year, as a new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been approved in Canada. Between both vaccines, the country is now expected to get 1.2 million doses (enough to vaccinate 600,000 people) by the end of January. Both are considered to be about 90 per cent effective.
B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, got a shot of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 22, as one of the first 3,600 people in B.C. to receive it.
The vaccine was set to arrive in Maple Ridge in the last week of 2020.
Holyrood Manor’s long-term care home was informed on Dec. 28 by the Fraser Health Authority that the Pfizer vaccinations will be available for staff starting this week at an off-site location, according to a spokesperson for Revera Inc.
Throughout the trials of the past year, there have been great shows of spirit and resilience.
In late March, police had sirens blaring and people were making noise from their windows and balconies to show their support for front line health care workers each night at 7 p.m.
Then local Scout Quinn Callander, at the age of just 12, created hundreds of thousands of ear guards on a 3-D printer he got for his birthday. They ease the pain of wearing a mask for a 12-hour shift.
It soon became an international movement, and the seventh grader appeared on television with Dr. Phil. Forbes magazine called him “one of the young trailblazers stepping up during the pandemic” in a feature about eight standout young people on the planet.
Local entrepreneur Josh Bradshaw created the Cap Shield – a clip-on face mask that attaches to baseball caps.
The personal protective equipment has been selling well, ordered online at capshield.ca and distributed out of a facility in Surrey. It is sold across Canada, with some customers in the U.S.
Five-year-old Parker Kaumi decorated 75 bags filled with cookies and delivered them to the Revera-Sunwood Retirement Community where seniors were shut in. Parker is on the autism spectrum, and loves to draw, and his mother Lauren baked the cookies.
In April, there was much more coming together. The Simon Fraser University Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band, who lost their competition season to COVID, came and played on 224th Street, as seniors at Legion Manor and Gardens and other residents watched and listened to Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave.
The Hammond Compassion Society raised $11,000 and handed out $100 grocery store gift cards to seniors. The Katzie First Nation partnered with the Friends in Need Food Bank to deliver food to 49 Katzie families in need.
There were 450 blooms donated to three seniors homes in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows by an anonymous donor.
Celebrations took a new turn. The birthday party for 10-year-old Landon Turnbull became a parade, and Ridge Meadows RCMP joined in the string of cars along with his family friends. The police cruisers played a birthday song over their speakers, and Landon said it turned out to be the best birthday ever.
Osprey Village saw a wedding dance in the street. A couple whose 135-guest wedding had been cut down by limits on gatherings. Then family members showed symptoms. Soon they were down to 15 immediate family members. When they went to Osprey Village for photos, they were met by about 50 friends who had driven there, and were in their cars, lining the streets, wanting to see the couple’s first dance.
The coronavirus was first on the cover of The News on March 6, with the headline “Virus halts trips abroad.”
School district superintendent Sylvia Russell cancelled school trips to Japan, Italy, New York, and a European tour.
Both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows began messaging about hand washing, covering coughs, and avoiding contact with others.
By the middle of the month, both cities announced the closure of public buildings, from libraries to recreation facilities, and the province closed all classes from kindergarten to Grade 12.
By March 20, local businesses were feeling the hit, and Chameleon Restaurant owner Mario Bitoiu told The News he was closing his doors temporarily. He was joined by about half of the downtown businesses.
On March 26, a group of doctors at Ridge Meadows Hospital asked people to heed the directive of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and stay home.
“This crisis is unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetime. We are working flat out to be there for our patients and their families,” the doctors said in a statement.
April brought an outbreak at Willow Manor, where 13 long-term care residents and three staff members had the virus. Two people passed away.
“COVID takes Dad” said a headline on April 30, as Ron Fox related how his father John, a retired RCMP officer from Maple Ridge who stayed active and enjoyed golf and volunteering for the North Fraser Therapeutic Riding Association, was taken by COVID-19 in a matter of weeks.
The case numbers dropped over the summer, but have been steadily climbing since September, as a predicted second wave arrived across Canada.