If you listen closely, you will be able to almost hear a worldwide collective sigh of relief expended when the clock at long last strikes midnight on Jan. 1 and effectively puts the year 2020 in everyone’s rearview mirror.

And that’s understandable, isn’t it? After all 2020, to put it mildly, has been simply appalling.

So appalling, in fact, that there likely isn’t a man, woman or child fortunate enough to still be inhabiting this planet who ever before so impatiently waited for one year to end and a new one to begin more than we have this go-round.

Never before (at least in a non-spiritual sense) have the words, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” so entirely illustrated more meaning, more exactness, such utter reality, than is being heralded for 2021.

And, that too, is understandable. As unforgettable as 2020 has been, each of us wants nothing more than to FORGET it and move on into an all-new year where COVID-19 and everything connected or related to it will, we hope, be barred from entering.

Considering we’re at the end of December, particularly now that the long-awaited vaccine has finally been introduced, it appears as if 2021 will truly break free of COVID’s yearlong stranglehold and things will at long last begin normalizing, there is at least reasonable optimism that all things just might indeed be becoming new.

And then the phone suddenly rang. Just a few measly days before The Great Transition could occur, the state of Colorado unloaded a bomb this week that’s more earth shattering than the proverbial atom bomb.

Colorado has experienced its first case of “COVID-19 Variant B.1.1.7,” which health experts contend is even more contagious than your regular strain of the virus and which up until now had only been seen in the United Kingdom.

If you’ll recall, all this seems hauntingly familiar to the first known case of regular COVID-19 when it first reared its ugly head in the United States — specifically the state of Washington — on Jan. 20. 2020. (How’s that date for weirdness?)

Much like then, this initial confirmed case of COVID-19 Variant B.1.1.7 (Dang! Even reads scary, doesn’t it?) is also a male who likewise has never been known for his traveling exploits and who apparently hadn’t been to the United Kingdom or any other place outside of his home in Elbert County where he could have possibly contracted it.

As of this writing, public health officials there were conducting their usual “thorough investigation,” essentially once again reassuring everyone that this male is being kept well away from the public in strict isolation, and that they are assiduously working to identify other potential cases and contacts through contact tracing interviews.

The governor of Colorado, Jarod Polis, said, “There is a lot that we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious.

“The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority…we are working to prevent spread and contain the virus on all levels.”

Yep, there isn’t a single one of us who hadn’t been holding out hope for a completely clean slate on which to write our hopes, our aspirations, the new story of what we wanted our lives to be in 2021, especially after having had it dictatorially written for us in 2020 by COVID-19.

I could be wrong, and God above knows I’m hoping and praying that I am, but it’s looking as if we’re all going to be dancing to the same sad tune again, only this time with our old ugly partner’s even uglier cousin.

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