While outlining his plan to halt the spread of the coronavirus last week, President Joe Biden tempered his ever-present optimism with a dose of realism about the potent staying power of this deadly pandemic and the fact that the nation's vaccine distribution system is a long way from becoming an efficient machine.
"Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better," the new President said, noting that the US is likely to cross a half-million deaths next month as cases continue to mount. "We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it's going to take months for us to turn things around."
For many Americans who feel trapped in a never-ending season of grief, isolation and disappointment, the start of a new year, a new administration and a new Congress seemed to offer hope -- however naïve it was -- that there would be some flip of a switch that could speed up the nation's lurching process for getting shots into arms.
But even as Biden announced a series of executive actions last week intended to curb the pandemic, the reality is sinking in that Americans may be stuck in this maddening purgatory for a while longer -- with their state governments finally in possession of vaccines that can protect them, but most people still finding them out of reach.