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Well into the summer of 2020, it had become clear that the same divisions driving so much of our political discourse had bled into the dialogue about the COVID-19 pandemic. As cases around the country started to tick up, videos of Americans becoming completely unhinged when asked to wear masks in restaurants or places of business went viral on social media. That the simple act of wearing a face covering in public, an effective way to protect both yourself and those around you, had become politicized seemed to be a perfect microcosm of the dissension in America. One thing that can’t be debated, however, is the valiant responses of our health care workers to the virus. Assistant editor Shane Monaghan reported this month’s cover story, “The First Wave“, to chronicle the early days of the pandemic, when local hospital administrators, doctors, and other health care professionals and staff were adjusting to a remade reality. “Everyone I talked with was dealing with harrowing circumstances,” Monaghan says, “but those challenges seemed to only strengthen their dedication to caring for Coloradans. It left me with a deep sense of gratitude.” The pieces in Monaghan’s feature not only serve as a record of this time, but they also provide inspiration when so much in life seems especially unsettled and contentious. If you hadn’t already decided to wear a mask, perhaps these stories of bravery and selflessness will encourage you to take that easy step, if only out of respect for those working on the frontlines of the pandemic.