Only a few doses of the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered locally, but even those have helped boost the spirits of people in Madison and Lake County.

The vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration just last week, and another vaccine produced by Moderna was approved a few days later. Both companies manufactured millions of doses in advance of the approval so that they could be distributed and administered in record time.

Most states, including South Dakota, have prioritized health care workers for vaccinations. Madison Regional Health System received doses late last week.

But to vaccinate 328 million Americans, and billions more around the world, will take time, at least a few months or longer.

Even so, we believe there is a spirit of optimism among locals we've spoken with recently. It isn't that the pandemic is over, but that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes being able to see the end of something bad is almost as satisfying as the end itself.

Unless there is a huge wave of infections in coming weeks or months, it looks as though we may have gotten past the worst of it. The number of documented active cases in Lake County peaked on Nov. 15 with 238. Today (Monday), there are 80 documented active cases. Of course, there have been undiagnosed cases throughout the pandemic as well.

Healthcare workers are prioritized around the country. In South Dakota, there are a number of critical populations who will also soon receive doses: long-term care facility residents, people with underlying medical conditions, people 65 and over, people from racial and ethnic minorities, tribal groups, those in correction facilities, and so on. There are so many groups who should be vaccinated soon, and we are grateful for the remarkable speed by which the job will get done.

Yes, we do believe we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is a glorious sight. We eager for the spread of COVID-19 to be dramatically reduced in coming months.

-- Jon M. Hunter