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Updated: September 18, 2023 From the Editor

From the Editor: This is not 2020

As I’m sure we all vividly remember from March 2020, the economic and social impact of the initial reaction to the COVID pandemic was swift and unforgiving. One day we were monitoring the spread of a disease in far-off Asia, and the next day local businesses were shuttering and everyone was hoarding supplies.

WBJ editor Brad Kane at his desk
WBJ Editor Brad Kane

So when I heard in late August that UMass Memorial Health in Worcester was reinstating its mask mandate in response to rising COVID cases, I immediately got those March 2020 vibes again. Of course, that feeling quickly passed, as this is not 2020. Back then, we were all responding to a big scary unknown, without clear guidance or leadership on how to react. Today, we have vaccines, measured response plans, and three years of experience living with the pandemic. The great economic fallout won’t happen.

As Staff Writer Isabel Tehan points out in her “Watching COVID closely” story, the rise in coronavirus cases is more of a swell, than a surge. Yes, cases are nearly quadrupled from June 2021, but they are still a small fraction of the peaks set in January 2022 and January 2023. Plus, hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths are far below emergency levels. We do still need to keep an eye on all things COVID, but we all know how to react and live with the coronavirus now.

Elsewhere in this issue, Staff Writer Timothy Doyle offers the next installment in his unofficial and unlabeled series on Fitchburg. A Worcester native and resident through and through, Doyle has made it a point to visit many of the communities surrounding Worcester and found lots to write about in Fitchburg, including stories on arts and culture, game design, and in his “Making connections” article, a story about a startup seeking to disrupt the internet industry.

Tehan sits down with Jessica Sassi, the new leader of the New England Center for Children. In the “Taking the reins” story, Sassi talks about taking over as CEO of a large autism-focused nonprofit that has only had one other leader in the past 48 years. On page 10, WBJ Correspondent Emily Micucci kicks off this edition’s Focus on Architecture & Construction in her “Central Mass. architects adapt to address the causes of and results of climate change” story, about how designers are strengthening building’s sustainability and resiliency.

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