It was reassuring to see health workers receiving Pfizer vaccination shots at Redlands Community Hospital last week. And it was exciting to hear on Monday that San Bernardino County received 21,650 doses of the Moderna, the newly approved vaccine that doesn’t need to be stored in subfreezing containers.

As exciting as it is that these vaccines give us hope that the end of the COVID-19 crisis is within sight, this is no time to let down your guard, to stop wearing a mask or to forget about physical distancing. If anything, the holiday surges that have filled our hospitals make the precautions are more important than ever.

We know how tempting New Year’s Eve can be — the ultimate party night usually capped off by a kiss at midnight. Not this year.

As if to underscore the point, the city of Redlands and the hospital sent out emails to businesses urging them to be safe and be aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on our community along with a video from Dr. Evan Houck, medical director of emergency services.

“In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we urgently need everyone to follow public health orders,” Houck said. “Please, wear a mask when in public, social distance, please wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often. Please limit any unnecessary activities and most importantly please don’t gather during the holidays.

“I know it’s hard to think about the holidays without our loved ones, but it’s even harder to imagine a lifetime of holidays without your loved ones who have succumbed to the virus. Help us help you. Together, we can bring an end to this pandemic.”

It was also good to see Congress finally pass another long-needed COVID relief package, although it was disappointing that it didn’t include a bailout for state and local governments. The November unemployment figures released by the California Employment Development Department last Friday was mostly good news, dropping to 8.2%, the lowest since March. But for the third straight month, the government showed the largest job loss of any sector, down by 10,200.

An optimist would say there’s light at the end of tunnel. A realist would say it’s still a long tunnel.