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Commentary: A trail of destruction and an unclear future: This is COVID-19

Commentary: A trail of destruction and an unclear future: This is COVID-19
May 14
00:00 2020

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the United States of America. Now, for the most part, we operate from our homes. Every day the top news story is COVID-19. Statistics detailing the number of cases and the number of people on ventilators have become the top news story. It is information that we need to know and want to know.

The stories surrounding the coronavirus have become daunting and deadly. There are now over 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 80,000 fatalities. This pandemic has cast a long shadow of terror and apprehension over this country. If you are black like me, the terror and apprehension have escalated even more. Black people are dying at an unprecedented rate. There are over 16,000 African Americans who have succumbed to this disease.

Even with these numbers the way they are, several states have chosen to re-open. The state of Georgia is one of them. Brian Kemp, the governor, announced ten days ago that his state was going to re-open, although he has been widely criticized about his decision. He said, “All the decisions that we have made have been for our citizens’ safety and public health.”

The same sentiments have been voiced by the governors of Oklahoma and Iowa. Kevin Stitt, governor of Iowa, said, “As the CEO of the state, my goal was to No.1, to protect the health and lives of Oklahomans, and then to mitigate the impacts to Oklahoma’s economy and get Oklahomans working back safely.”

Some leaders want their states and cities back to business as usual. The problem with coming back is that the coronavirus is coming along with you. For example, at the Tyson meat plant in Waterloo, Iowa, more than 1,000 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. We know from history that the numbers will continue to go up.

Not everyone is happy with these re-openings. Some mayors were surprised at their states coming back so quickly. Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta said, “We are not on the other side of this. It’s like we are in a tunnel, and rather than walking straight toward the light, we’re spinning around in circles.” Since reopening, Georgia’s cases are up 37% from a week ago.

Some critics are saying that the coronavirus has turned into a political football. The Republican Party does not seem to paint as grim a picture as those in the Democratic Party. According to the NBC News state tracker, 17 states led by Republican governors are re-opening while only seven states led by Democratic governors are opening early.

This pandemic is not going anywhere. It will be in our grocery stores and in the public square, in general. While states will re-open, some with trepidation, we will still be wearing our masks and using hand sanitizers. Shaking hands is in our past and may not be in our future. We will have to wait patiently and see.

Mother’s Day was celebrated on Sunday, May 10. In years gone by, restaurants were always packed with people and places of worship were always filled with happy and thankful people. Not this year! Take-out meals were the call of the day and on-line services were held by religious leaders. If we saw our relatives, it was from a distance.

The coronavirus has created a one-of-a-kind illness. We are experiencing collateral damage because of it. Jobs have been lost, businesses have closed, and our loved ones have passed on too soon. Life as we knew it had many memories. Will our future create more of them? We do not know. At this juncture and period, it is simply one day at a time.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator and can be reached at evers.jr56@nullyahoo.com.

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