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Still much for which to be thankful

The Millerton News Editorial

In a year marked by so much trauma and tragedy, it may seem like it’s asking a lot of our Harlem Valley readers to sit down at their Thanksgiving tables this year ready to share what it is that they have to be thankful for with each other. Yet we do feel gratitude, in spite of all of the additional hardships that have come into our lives since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which now stretches back to March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. (According to www.medscape.com, COVID-19 was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, China, and then reported to the WHO on Dec. 31, 2019.)

In those nearly two years since, according to WHO, the mortality rate has been in the millions. It stated online, “Globally, as of… Nov. 18, there have been 254,847,065 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,120,712 deaths, reported to WHO.”

The good news is that WHO also reported as of Nov. 18 that “a total of 7,370,902,499 vaccine doses have been administered.”

That could be topic number one that we express gratitude for around the Thanksgiving table this year.

Another something for which we can all be thankful? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most current online data, new hospital admissions in the U.S. between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2 have decreased 6.7%. The seven-day average was 5,075, versus 5,441 from the previous week.

Additionally, the current seven-day moving average of new deaths, which the CDC registered at 1,110, has decreased 8.8%. That’s compared to the previous seven-day moving average of 1,217.

Considering that as of Nov. 3 of this year, a total of 747,970 people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus, any lessening of the death toll — even a slight decrease — we consider good news.

There have been other challenges our close-knit Harlem Valley community has had to deal with besides the coronavirus pandemic as of late. The most recent calamity was the tragic house fire in Millerton that ravished the home of local businesswoman and mother of four Amy Yang, and took the lives of two of her family members.

Yet as the early morning inferno engulfed the Yang home on South Elm Avenue on Nov. 6 and spread its devastation to neighboring residences along Route 22 that Saturday, the entire community of Millerton rallied together. We consider so many heroes that day: from the neighbors and firefighters who dealt with the dangerous flames to help save those trapped inside the burning building to the business people and volunteers who showed up with food and drinks to keep everyone going for hours on end at the scene to the North East Fire District, the Millerton Fire Company and the many other fire departments and rescue squads that responded to the scene and waited in the wings to ensure the blaze was fully extinguished and all were safe.

Now, with wounds still fresh, the community continues to rally as individual residents, business people and local organizations set up GoFundMe pages; MealTrain sites; and clothing, food and home good collections for the Yang family as well as the neighboring families that were also displaced when their homes were damaged by the second-alarm fire.

It was the “worst fire” the district had seen in many years,  according to Fire Commissioner Joshua Schultz.

And according to Stephen Valyou, chairman of the Fire Commission, it was the first time the district had to grapple with a fire in the village that involved any fatalities.

To help the community deal with its grief, the Millerton Fire Company held a debriefing at its Fire Annex on Wednesday evening, Nov. 10, to give people a venue in which they could talk about their feelings regarding the fire’s impact.

We are just so thankful to live in a place where people can lean on one another in times of crisis. If these past couple of years have proven anything, it’s that the Harlem Valley is strong. Its residents, its business community, its social service organizations — they all pull together when it’s needed most, and without those in need ever having to ask for help. That’s the kind of mentality, the kind of spirit, the kind of community few in this lifetime ever get to experience. When you do, just be grateful. We surely are.

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your goodwill with your friends, families and neighbors. Please continue to do so as we walk toward a brighter, and hopefully very soon, healthier, future.

In spite of the challenges and difficulties everyone is dealing with at present, and has for the past two years, we would like to wish all of our readers a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

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