On Friday, June 11, we finally heard the news we’ve been waiting on for some time. Gov. Andy Beshear, in what was to be his last regular update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 virus, announced that nearly every mandate and rule related to the conduct of the citizens off the commonwealth in relation to this public health crisis.

(Sigh of relief.)

We’re not out of this yet, but it appears the worst has passed and we’re moving in the right direction on many fronts.

Eastern Kentuckians are no stranger to storms. I’m not talking about a bit of rain and some thunder and lightning. No, I’m talking about one of those early spring/late summer, sky changing 15 different colors, winds howling, trampolines flying, bangers that cause us to respond like a midwesterner to a tornado warning.

When the storm’s coming in, there’s not much you can do but duck. So you get in an interior room and wait until either the warning passes or you no longer hear hell being torn off hinges outside your home.

After it passes, and you start peeking out your window, then stepping outside, you begin your damage assessment in earnest.

But, as any Eastern Kentuckian can tell you, it can take a long time before you see all the effects of a storm. Sure, if a branch has fallen on your house or vehicle, or the creek outside your home has begun spilling its banks, that’s all easy to assess.

What’s not always easy to asses, but is no less effective on your life are the long-term damages — a tree that has been weakened so that, when the next storm rolls around, it’s sure to fall. Or there’s an embankment beside a roadway that has finally become eroded enough that it’s begun collapsing.

I feel like that’s kind of the stage we’re at in the COVID-19 crisis. More than a year ago, we responded to the very real threat of a global pandemic the only ways we could — ducking down and waiting until the storm passed.

Thankfully, in this case, some very motivated scientists were able to find a number of vaccines in a record time to fight back against this illness. It appears their work was incredibly effective. Even without reaching what we know as “herd immunity,” we’re seeing case numbers fall, along with hospitalizations and deaths. It’s working, but we still don’t know the full effects the pandemic and the response to it has had on our lives.

We’re just emerging and there’s a lot of things we need to check and ensure are not damaged. We must also be committed to making the necessary repairs and undertaking the necessary cleanups.