Commentary: COVID-19 is a plague, but we are sticking together

Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Commentary: COVID-19 is a plague, but we are sticking together
March 26
01:10 2020

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

The Coronavirus is beyond anything that I have ever witnessed. This is a nightmare. However, this is not a six- or seven-hour nightmare. Some reports suggest it may be July or August before things get back to normal.

Reports say that the United States has over 26,382 active cases, second only to Italy, which has 42,681. Some states like New York and California are seeing its citizens being heavily impacted by this illness. In fact, both states have ordered its citizens to stay at home. I believe other states will follow suit. The theory is that the less contact we have with each other, the better off we will be.

There is a new term that has entered our lexicon and that is “social distancing.” In simple terms, we must be at least six feet from each other when having a social interaction. My wife and I went to an electronics store recently and they implemented a check-in system, along with reduced hours. This type of system is probably going to be used by other companies as well.

On March 24, Walmart has instituted what is called “senior hours,” from 7 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. During this time, we older folks will be able to do our shopping. As this strategy is implemented, we will see how long it lasts and what the effects will be.

An interesting observation will be to watch if other businesses follow suit. My thinking is that Walmart can do it because almost every person in the United States of America shops there. Will other businesses be able to withstand the economic slowdown that senior hours might have?

Public and private schools have also made concessions to the coronavirus. Schools have closed and online instruction is being offered. Because this has been such a shock to the system, I wonder how successful this will be. I don’t know if school leaders have thought about online instruction as a long-term solution. It’s one thing to have on-line instruction for spring break or for a special project; however, it’s an entirely different beast to have it possibly for the rest of the school year. COVID-19 has raised multiple questions for educators. What happens to statewide testing? What will student grade promotions look like this year? Will teacher evaluations be possible?

Having been a teacher, I wonder if students will be tuned in to this new education normal. Will students really use their computers and will they be consistent? Suppose a student doesn’t have a computer; what will they do? Libraries are now closed, eliminating that option.

Colleges and universities are also in an educational fix. They have gone to alternative instruction as well. If you are a senior with graduation on the horizon, you are more than a bit anxious. Some colleges have already cancelled their graduation exercises and other special events. My beloved alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, cancelled its commencement last week. Caution is what higher education officials should be using during this period.

With the numbers rising, seemingly by the hour, more testing is being done. Stay at home is now the mandate being given to citizens by city mayors and state governors. Limiting contact with each other will hopefully stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Television and radio are giving us almost around-the-clock information on this modern-day plague. Our country’s mantra is now: stick together and stay together. We are going to get through it and it will be because of His grace and His mercy.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ph.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

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