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What a difference a year makes. Like me, at this time last year you were most likely gearing up to celebrate Valentine’s Day. You were looking forward to spending some quality time with family and friends or to spending the day snuggling up with that special someone. Little did either of us know that shortly thereafter a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic would hit that would keep us from being with our loved ones for months on end.

Fast forward to today. One year later. Valentine’s Day is once again on the horizon and like me; you probably have plans to spend time with family and friends or with that special someone, but this time through Zoom rather than in person.

Also like me, you may have already received your first dose of one of the two COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are looking forward to the day when you can receive your second dose and become fully vaccinated. This we hope, if enough of us do the same, will help end the pandemic and return us to the days when we can celebrate Valentine’s Day with the people we love, in person, with hugs, rather than through screens.

Just because we’ve been vaccinated, however, doesn’t mean we should do away with the measures we know have been helping slow the spread of COVID-19. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, even after being vaccinated we need to continue using all the tools we have available to us to help stop this pandemic. They include covering our noses and mouths with a mask, frequently washing our hands, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

So this Valentine’s Day, spread the love, not COVID. Mask up. Wash your hands. Stay six feet apart. Indeed, if we all do our part, perhaps this Valentine’s Day will be the last one we have to celebrate at a distance.