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Sometimes one word is enough

It should come as no surprise to anyone that 2020’s word of the year is pandemic.

Announced Monday by Merriam-Webster, pandemic is an appropriate word that single-handedly sums up the majority of the year.

The authority on words said its choice is based on statistical analysis of words that are looked up in extremely high numbers and also show a significant year-over-year increase in traffic.

On March 11, after the World Health Organization officially declared that COVID-19 could be characterized as a pandemic, the online dictionary saw an increase of 115,806 percent in the number of lookups for that word from the same day a year ago.

“What is most striking about this word is that it has remained high in our lookups ever since, staying near the top of our word list for the past ten months — even as searches for other related terms, such as coronavirus and COVID-19, have waned,” it wrote in its announcement.

Just in case you need a clear definition of what pandemic means, Merriam-Webster said it’s “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population.”

Personally, pretty much every aspect of my life has been affected by the virus, and I think it would be a safe bet to say that no one in Boulder City hasn’t been affected in some way by the coronavirus. And if we multiply that by the number of counties, states and countries that have also been affected, it’s easy to see why pandemic is an appropriate way to describe what has been happening across the world in 2020.

I also think it would be safe to say that this year will be one that will be hard to forget — even though many of us would like to.

Face coverings, hand sanitizer and social distancing are becoming ways of life for us, as is stockpiling items such as toilet paper, paper towels, antibacterial wipes and bottled water.

Conversations between people have been regulated to texts and virtual meetings, as have classroom lessons. Hugs have been replaced by emojis.

Many of us are working from home, if we are working at all.

Events and activities have been canceled or curtailed.

Businesses are suffering through shutdowns and restrictions.

Though I know several people who have contracted COVID-19 and recovered, I have been fortunate enough to not have lost anyone to the virus. My sympathies go out to those who have not been so lucky.

None of this has been easy.

Yes, pandemic is an actual word. But after this year, it means so much more than just its basic definition.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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