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THE PANDEMIC by Dr. Anthony Neal

Daily Digest

One thing the pandemic has done is to give all humanity, living through this time period, a common experience or shared experience.  We all know about Covid-19 and the variants.   No matter which international news organization you are watching, you see people wearing masks.  This reality stretches from Cape Town, South Africa to Sochi, Russia back over to Tokyo, Japan and down through Miami, Florida in the United States. The Pandemic touches Formula 1 racing and World Cup Soccer.  It touches Kyrie Irving and Aaron Rogers.  Presidents and Prime Ministers have had to wear masks. Whether you are anti-vaccination or working from you booster shot like myself, the virus affects you. It alters your behavioral pattern.  Aaron Rogers has to sit out this week’s game to testing positive for the virus.  He stated that he had thought about telling the public that he was immunized due to having taken some “snake oil” to ward off the virus.  That episode has taught us that you cannot cheat the virus.  One can cheat one’s fellow human beings, but one cannot cheat the virus.  Covid it truly no respecter of persons.  The Trump White House was on fire with the virus even though early on, sadly, Trump has proclaimed the virus a hoax as he stood in front of thousands of his cheering and adoring fans. Several Trump-like Republican elected officials have been defeated by the virus even though they still try to hide the effects from their constituency.  

Wearing or not wearing a mask has become a political statement. I wear my mask outdoors in the sunshine. I wear my seat belt and shoulder harness. I strap my son into his car seat. I wear a helmet when I go bike riding. I try not to ride on public streets, just through parks.  I get a flu shot.  I got my shingles vaccination. I plan to go back to my doctor and get my pneumonia vaccination. I have had several shots recently not to mention my Covid booster shot. I do not turn right on red when the sign says do not.  As stated earlier, I have been fully vaccinated, and I still wear my mask in the sunshine.  I do not feel any less free than I felt before the pandemic hit. A vaccine and or mask mandates do not scare me.  Republican state legislators who are attempting to nullify my presidential vote scare me.  Republican legislators who are trying to create a preordained script whereby Trump can be declared President as opposed to elected President scares me.  

The virus was with us long before things began shutting down in March 2020. Ironically, the Year of racial reckoning ran parallel to the beginning awareness of the Pandemic. We can safely say that this has been an uncommon two years.  We are about to enter a third calendar year attempting dodge the Covid virus. Unfortunately, Colin Powell was laid to rest in October due to complications related to the virus.  Even though he was eighty-five years old, it feels like he should still be here. We need his leadership and voice to provide wise counsel to us about upcoming elections. Nevertheless, there is so much that we do not know about the virus. Every positive test for Covid is not a case unto death.  Some struggle for months with the virus.   Some succumb within a couple of weeks. A mask is the only protection we have for kids under five. That makes me feels so uneasy for my son. I am glad that he feels comfortable wearing his masks. 

Once the Pandemic has passed, we shall look back on this time with an idea that we survived. We shall have stories to tell one another and faces not yet born. The death toll is still on the rise. More than five million worldwide have died from the Virus. Just under eight hundred thousand have died in the United States. That figure could reach a million by the time the Pandemic has ended.  Many ways of life have been altered. We now speak awkwardly about what life was like before the Pandemic. We now speak awkwardly about what life is like since the Pandemic. I have returned to the classroom, but I wear a mask.  The students in my classes wear masks. I stride across this relatively large campus that fills kind of empty. There was once hustle and bustle between classes. That has slowed to a trickle. Given the relentless nature of the virus and human strength made to look feeble, it makes you wonder who or what truly sits atop the food chain.

Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) an is currently an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, and books: Oral Presidency and The American Political Narrative in addition to three collections of verse including Love Agnostic: The Eternal Protest.

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