The Portland Expo is sporting a giant "spread love not germs" banner encouraging people to wear their masks and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Well, it finally happened. After years of giving you annual columns making bold predictions according to the year in question — 19 predictions in 2019, 20 in 2020, etc . — I have reached my breaking point. Twenty-one bold predictions for 2021 would just be too many to reasonably put into a column. It is just too many.

So from this point forward, each year I will be bringing you a far more reasonable number of predictions, so that they are more meaningful and I can explain them with greater depth. Thus, here are your 10 bold predictions for 2021.

Bold prediction 1: Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021.

Perhaps not so bold a prediction, but there is still a significant portion of the population that believes that President Donald Trump’s election lawsuits will be able to successfully put a hold on the Biden presidency-in-waiting, and result in Trump prevailing.

At this point, with the Supreme Court rejecting the request for an injunction on Pennsylvania’s certification, and the looming Electoral College vote on Monday, that seems increasingly unlikely.

So Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20.

Bold prediction 2: David Purdue will win reelection against Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s first U.S. Senate special election. Kelly Loeffler, on the other hand, will be defeated by Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Purdue has always been the stronger of the two Republican candidates, and should hang on by his fingernails. Loeffler, though, will have a harder time, even though her opponent is more fundamentally flawed. Purdue’s win, though, will give Republicans control of the U.S. Senate by a 51-49 margin.

Bold prediction 3: COVID cases will continue to be high through the winter, but will begin to significantly drop by March, as the vaccines make their way to the public.

This might not seem like such a bold prediction, but if you listen to public health experts, some are telling you that the vaccines will start to impact caseloads right away, and some argue it won’t materialize until late summer or even fall. In reality, I think by March or early April, we’ll start to see some big impacts of the vaccines.

Bold prediction 4: COVID restrictions, like indoor gathering size limitations, mask mandates, etc, will not go away until June or July. Or even later.

Even then, public health officials will insist that we “aren’t out of the woods yet,” and will want to keep as much control over the public as possible for as long as possible.

Bold prediction 5: Maine lawmakers will make some small, but insignificant changes to the Maine law governing emergencies.

They simply can’t do nothing. Not after one person has wielded complete and total authority in the state of Maine for most of the year, sidelining the Legislature and the leadership of her own party. I think they will make token changes, but it will be a start.

Bold prediction 6: There will be no significant attempt to institute a broad, population-wide “vaccine mandate” in the general population.

But it will still be proposed and talked about a great deal. In the end, more people will choose to get in than initially thought, and any talk of mandates — not that they would even be legal, in my opinion — will end up being unnecessary.

Bold prediction 7: The schools will open more or less normally in the fall.

I think we are in for hybrid learning and the miserable experience that is pandemic schooling for the remainder of this school year. But when schools reopen in the fall, I think kids will go back to a mostly normal, pre-COVID school experience.

Bold prediction 8: When fear and panic over the virus dissipates, a more rational and in-depth analysis of the policy response to COVID will begin, and will highlight some damning consequences of societal shutdowns.

When emotions calm, and fear subsides, some hard questions about what we just did to ourselves will be asked.

Bold prediction 9: Paul LePage will formally announce that he is running for governor in 2021, and will face no substantial competition early for the nomination.

Back to the normal political speculation that this column is usually about, I think the former governor is salivating for an opportunity to take on his old political nemesis in 2022, and will waste no time making it official.

Bold prediction 10: 2021 will be better than 2020.

OK, maybe that one isn’t so bold, as this is the consensus “worst year ever.” But still, every time I thought things couldn’t get worse this year, they did, so you never know. I do have a good feeling about 2021, though, so here’s to turning the page next year.

Matthew Gagnon, Opinion columnist

Matthew Gagnon of Yarmouth is the chief executive officer of the Maine Policy Institute, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. A Hampden native, he previously served as a senior strategist...