To start, I’m grateful to the publisher, editor, and staff at the Woodbridge Town News for including in their paper this column and other opinion, news, and announcements, to help keep Woodbridge readers informed. Knowledgeable residents are essential in this high-functioning town – and at all levels of government, for that matter. There are all-too-many recent examples of how uninformed and misinformed residents all-too-literally jeopardize our future well-being.
I’m also grateful for the dedicated hard work and ongoing commitment of town officials and staff, and for the literally scores of volunteer residents who perpetuate the programs and services upon which we all rely. The composite result of so much community service is, again, the high-functioning town we proudly call home.
More broadly, since last Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for great progress underway to combat the coronavirus and quash incidents of COVID-19. In Woodbridge, in Connecticut, and in most states vaccination rates are high, and where that’s true, cases of virus-related illness have been minimized. Thank goodness new national leadership this year took the pandemic seriously and worked to mitigate its tragic consequences.
Some 220 million Americans have been vaccinated by now, thousands of booster shots are administered daily, and the vaccine was recently approved to protect children. All this suggests continuing progress against future infections, because according to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), unvaccinated people are more likely than vaccinated people to test positive for COVID-19 and far more likely to die from it. In fact, according to the Texas health department, the state’s unvaccinated residents – in all age groups – were 45 times more likely to be infected with the virus and 40 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated residents.
I’m thankful President Biden and his team initiated this wholesale turnaround with respect for science, a robust vaccination rollout, and the American Rescue Plan. I’m grateful the Biden administration used the resulting optimism as a springboard to create 5.6 million jobs – 531,000 in October alone – to sustain economic recovery from last year’s pandemic shutdown.
Just two weeks ago, passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by Congress gave Americans more to be thankful about because roads, bridges, airports, and transit systems will soon be improved, broadband internet service expanded, potable water systems upgraded, and green energy sources developed. This nationwide infrastructure overhaul – with revenue built into the bill to pay for it all – will generate additional jobs, economic growth, and future investment for which we can all be grateful.
Here in Connecticut, infrastructure funding will underwrite replacement or repairs to the estimated 2,100 miles and 48 highway bridges in poor condition and it will help upgrade and maintain commuter rail infrastructure, too. There will also be expansion of charging stations for electric vehicles, extended internet access, water system upgrades and watershed protection for which Connecticut residents can be grateful.
Also, on the list of things for which I’m thankful is quiet assurance that other Biden administration goals – lower prescription drug costs, Medicare coverage for dental, vision, and hearing care, and paid family leave – are favored by most Americans, according to polls.
This Thanksgiving, I’m particularly grateful for those who share these ideals and an innate generosity of spirit to make them a priority.