An unprecedented milestone was marked this month — the one year anniversary of the state’s pandemic lockdown.

To say it’s been difficult would be an understatement, but it’s also true that, as a community, we’ve overcome much and hopefully become better for all our experiences.

To mark the occasion, The Reporter this week will run a series of stories looking at how the lockdown due to COVID-19 has impacted our lives.

From city operations to public safety, from education to the health community, from the impact on businesses to that on sports and everything in between, we probe it all.

A recent talk with Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano’s public health officer, revealed that, despite all the challenges, a positive change appears to be on the horizon.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

From the beginning, way back in Dec. 2019 when we first heard about COVID-19, there were, perhaps, misstatements, he advised.

As a doctor who has spent 30 years in public health and has experienced many pandemics, Matyas said experts “knew a lot more than we didn’t know” to deal with the situation and just needed more information regarding the pandemic’s “nuances.”

But because of all the information and misinformation out on social media, things quickly got out of hand, he added, and the community didn’t know what or whom to believe. Add in politics and the general state of the world, he continued, and everything exploded.

“Things have been so intense,” he pointed out, regarding the elections, protests against racism and police brutality, and general anger regarding pandemic-impacted lives.

Take a breath, Matyas said, step back, look at things through clearer eyes.

“Knowledge keeps changing. We know new things every day,” he emphasized.

He acknowledged that officials early on made the mistake of saying that COVID-19 could be contained. At best, he said, it can be mitigated and will eventually become part of everyday life, like the flu.

COVID-19 is a respiratory condition, but it is not airborne, he shared. It’s transferred when droplets from one person enters another’s eyes, nose or mouth.

Which is why he advocates social distancing, avid handwashing and mask wearing.

As to the statement many anti-maskers have made that masks don’t work?

“That’s a total bald-faced lie,” he replied. “Masks make a huge difference.”

Matyas also disagrees with the lockdown, but advised that’s not his call. Different locales, he said, have reacted differently. So many resources were wasted, he said, and businesses unnecessarily lost.

With three vaccines now approved, the doctor is hopeful about a return to a semblance of normalcy. With vaccine clinics being hosted in each city, many more people can be inoculated.

The county, he posited, hopes to open up the vaccines to anyone who wants one within the next two weeks.

“My recommendation is get vaccinated and know if there’s an outbreak here or there it’s not going to matter because you’re protected,” Matyas said. “I’m hopeful that as we see more people get vaccinated and see it work, there will be less fear… and we’ll go back to normal.”

For those still worried about getting vaccinated, the doctor had this to say: “It’s not perfect, nothing in life is perfect. But it is a good method of prevention.”

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