Commentary: The New Year is here and so is the Coronavirus

Commentary: The New Year is here and so is the Coronavirus
January 06
11:57 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

We have probably used the time-honored expression, out with the old and in with the new, on more than one occasion. However, this axiom in my opinion has taken on a stronger meaning this year.

The consensus is that 2020 was a rough 12 months. In so many respects, our traditional institutions were maligned and marginalized. Standards of excellence were breeched and promises were not kept.

Truth, at least for some, took on a new meaning. The truth was stretched and strained by “alternative truths.” While many balked at alternative truths, it became the mantra and calling card for those wanting to lie, cheat and steal.

Politics took a nosedive. Both sides through 2020 could never agree, just to disagree. As a result, We the People were disappointed and disillusioned. We were in a yearlong funk and it crossed all spectrums. What happened last year is the major reason why so many people voted in the election.

Believing and achieving led to record numbers in the voting booths. We understood the power of the vote and we used it. The last election was a prime example of our democracy at work. The current administration called the process a fraud, but we called it a victory.

Unfortunately, and sadly, the lives of too many Black people ended too soon because of violence. Fear and trepidation haunted us each day. The right to feel safe was a dream deferred.

The killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police will forever be etched in our minds. To watch his life taken in public view arguably made the Black Lives Matter movement stronger and more relevant than ever in 2020. 

People of both races joined forces to say enough is enough. BLM gained more influence because young white folks added their voices to it. No longer was it just us protesting in the streets, it was white people protesting in the streets too. It is my thinking that the organization is only going to get stronger this year.

Now I believe they must be at the forefront to see that laws are changed that are detrimental to Black and brown people. Legislators at all levels will have to reckon with Black Lives Matter. Get ready!

While we ushered in the New Year, COVID-19 ushered itself in too. This virus will be here for most of this year. That is a dire prediction, but that is my opinion. The New York Times reports that over 4.2 million people here have received a dose of the vaccine. This falls short of the federal projection of 20 million people.

I believe distribution of the vaccine and a reluctance to take it are some stumbling blocks. States are receiving different amounts and sending them to different locations. At this moment, it is up to the states to regulate the distribution.

In my opinion, we are at the corner of hope and action.

Americans are hoping that this vaccine program brings some relief. We hope that we have turned the corner. Yet from where I sit at the inquiry desk, we have only just begun. We are not even close to the corner.

The action component of the vaccine dissemination is slow and uneven. Maybe the projections of how many people would be vaccinated were off. Those calculations set off false hope in the American people. Distribution and those vaccinated must be more closely aligned and realistic projections must be made.

We have work to do, but we have the resources and the brainpower to do it.

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 and can be reached at

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