Commentary: It is the first COVID-19 anniversary. Let’s not celebrate

Commentary: It is the first COVID-19 anniversary. Let’s not celebrate
February 03
12:07 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Anniversaries and birthdays are special events. Each gives us a reason to celebrate and to reminisce about the previous year. Both are highlighted by being with family and friends. We give gifts and cards and are thankful for the time together.

However, there are some anniversaries you would like to forget. How about the coronavirus anniversary? I would sure like to forget, but like you, I cannot.

The first known case of COVID-19 was in Snohomish County, which is north of Seattle, Washington. It arrived without fanfare in January 2020. I can recall watching the news and hearing about the coronavirus and that it was occurring in other parts of the world. 

Like you, when I heard other parts of the world, I never thought it would come to America. COVID-19 in America? If I had to bet on it, I would have bet against it coming to our country.

I was wrong. The coronavirus has absorbed our country and our world. It has been with us day and night. It has been relentless in attacking our families. At this moment, we have over 440,000 family members and friends who have passed away.

Dinner tables are missing their presence and their voices have been silenced.

Now at least two strains have been discovered in England and South Africa. Two cases have been discovered in South Carolina and Maryland. The United Kingdom variant has been detected in 20 of our states. We are in an uphill climb against COVID-19.

The enemy has set up shop here and it is the coronavirus. It was declared a pandemic on July 1, 2020.

Despite the negative past, we have a promising outlook. There have been over 49 million vaccines distributed and almost 28 million doses administered. The state of West Virginia leads the country in vaccine distribution, having already used 81% of their vaccine allotment.

Phizer and Moderna have been the two major vaccines. Johnson and Johnson will file papers next week with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an emergency use authorization. In trials thus far, it has been found to be 85% effective against severe disease. If approved, it is projected they will give 100 million doses by June. This is good news when combined with the existing vaccines.

The Johnson and Johnson product will only require one shot. This will be a welcome relief for people who have vaccine hesitancy. Dr. Celine Gounder, infectious disease specialist, said on CNN recently, to get whatever vaccine you can get.

The administration is providing regular updates on vaccine availability and when it will be going to various locations around the country. New sites are opening so that more Americans can receive the vaccine.

“Every vaccine that is sitting in a warehouse rather than going into an arm could mean one more life lost,” said Health and Human Services Director Alex Azar.

While the vaccines are in various stages of implementation and approval, we must still follow the same rules. Some recent reports suggest that two masks should be worn together; however, Dr. Anthony Fauci said to simply follow the CDC guidelines. Their guidelines do not say you must wear two masks.

When I am in the public square, I do see some people with a mask and a face shield. People must make their own decision.

Wearing a face mask is now required when travelling via any type of public transportation. It is my thinking that we must comply and not complain.

Currently, there are over 26 million COVID-19 cases and the numbers continue to rise. We are in the middle of some tough times. We are long-suffering, but we know that things will get better. 

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

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

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