CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - A new year brings unlimited possibilities. For many people, it's the hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will end in 2021.
"I think, as a society, we're all ready to go back to normal," Peter Starefos said, a restaurant manager in Cedar Rapids.
Unfortunately, 2021 is not off to a great start. With a siege on the U.S. Capitol, a record second impeachment of a sitting president in the House of Representatives, and more COVID-19 cases and deaths.
While the Hawkeye State's coronavirus numbers are nowhere near as bad as they were during early November, Iowa is still seeing roughly 1,500 new cases every day.
"This virus is here. It's not an option," Dr. Melanie Wellington said, an associate epidemiologist at University of Iowa Health Care.
Experts like Dr. Wellington have been telling Iowans the crucial role every one of them plays in stopping the spread since March of 2020. That message is just as strong in the new year.
"If you did nothing else but just wear a mask, that is a major difference that you can make in the world. And it will definitely end the outbreak faster and it will save people's lives," she said.
She acknowledges it's difficult for some people to grasp, because it's a chain reaction of safety and support.
"It's really hard to kind of take these actions on faith. That the person down the road --who you've never met, at the end of a transmission chain-- that you're saving their life by wearing a mask," Dr. Wellington said.
With the majority of people spreading the virus asymptomatically she says it's crucial everyone be on high alert.
But that's tough for people who work in shops like Gianna's Italian Beef in Cedar Rapids, where enhanced safety means less foot traffic and less business.
"A full lockdown, would that solve our problems? I really couldn't tell you. I don't think it would," manager Peter Starefos said.
The actions of Governor Kim Reynolds clearly show a full lockdown is not on the table. Instead, she's letting Iowans make their own decisions but encouraging them to follow safety guidelines.
Consequently, that's what public health experts also have to do. They're beating the same drum and hoping more people sing along.
"That's our biggest, best way to make a difference; prevent transmission," Dr. Wellington said.