Whoever had the pandemic square on the 2020 game board of predictions may be about the only one smiling these days.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the coronavirus has made 2021 somewhat easier to forecast.
Much of what we're about to mention for the remaining 362 days of the year is common sense, but we as a country lost much of that in 2020, so what we offer may not be as inherent as we first imagined.
* The coronavirus vaccine will be accepted by a large majority of the people. The safety of the vaccine, the reduction it will begin to show in COVID-19 cases and the population's desire to return to normal will break down the resistance of most of those who said they were on the fence about it and many of those who said they would never take it.
Of course, many of those who were opposed to it were opposed to it because it was being developed with the assistance of a presidential administration they opposed. Sad but true. Trump will be gone in three weeks, but the vaccines his administration helped speed into being will be around long after he's gone.
* Once warm weather returns and two doses of vaccines are in the arms of Americans, many of us will want to take to the highway and the skies to experience those vacations and getaways that were put off in 2020. We hope that wanderlust launches a renewed love for the beauty of our country and its magnificent sites.
We hope it also fills the hotel rooms and populates the restaurants of our land. Even with assistance money from the federal government, the hospitality industry took a huge hit in 2020, throwing people out of work and depleting the life savings of many.
* The travel, whether it happens in the second, third or fourth quarter of the year, will boost the economy. President Joe Biden will need that because he will find legislative victories far from easy to come by. With a Republican Senate — the GOP will win one, if not two, Georgia seats in this week's election — and a narrowly Democratic House, gridlock will reign.
The travel boost, plus people's return to shop at brick-and-mortar businesses, will allow unemployment to fall. As with the Obama administration, though, businesses may not want to expand until they see what deleterious effects the Biden administration's plans have on them.
* Although the 2021-2022 school year largely will be a return to normal for most students, many companies will see advantages to allowing more of their employees to work — just as they have been for much of the last year — from home. They will find it saves energy, supplies and time.
Indeed, Biden may find that — initially — his Green New Deal will be the one he inherited from Trump. Greenhouse gases, for instance, were expected to fall by 9% to their lowest level in three decades in 2020 because of the lack of travel from mandatory shutdowns and from more people working from home.
* Locally, we envision that Chattanooga will have a new mayor and at least three new council persons. OK, that one was a little easier to prognosticate because Mayor Andy Berke is term-limited, two of the current councilmen are running for mayor, and one has chosen not to run for re-election.
In all seriousness, we do foresee that the mayoral candidate who advocates more of a return to normalcy is likely to be elected. In 2020 nothing was normal. We feel the candidate who pledges to pave streets, take care of neighborhoods, and quietly but forcefully deal with controversial issues will have an advantage.
The mayor is a nonpartisan position, and Chattanooga, like the country, could use a less chaotic period. The candidate most voters feel is less connected to a particular party or movement, we believe, will resonate with many.
* And, lastly, while it may not be the most pressing of the city's concerns, we believe the city's best entertainment minds will come up with an event to replace the Riverbend Festival. We aren't thinking of Riverbend 2.0 or 3.0, but something that builds on the best of what the event meant to the area for the last three-plus decades.
The Scenic City and its riverfront are inviting settings and too good not to host a large event that draws people from around the region. Such an event may not occur in 2021, but it could be planned for 2022 and beyond.
The above view into the crystal ball is hardly in the Nostradamus category, but it does suggest a time in which the country generally and individuals specifically take a much needed, long, deep breath.