EDITORIAL: COVID-19 Anniversary and We’re Still Not Safe

One year ago this week, Americans watched as schools, businesses and churches closed in cities across the U.S. to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a deadly virus yet to be called a pandemic.

In a March 5 editorial, we wrote: “While there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in D.C. to date, Mayor Muriel Bowser met with members of her administration, the media and ANC commissioners throughout the city to outline a preparedness plan, just in case an outbreak occurs in the District contributing to a possible pandemic with devastating consequences.” Who would have predicted that one year later, an outbreak with devastating consequences would result in over a half-million Americans dead, and over 1,000 of them in D.C?

Mayor Bowser ushered in strict guidelines requiring masks, social distancing, hand washing, and sanitizing among residents who were forbidden to gather even in small groups because there was no place to gather publicly. She maneuvered around a president who believed consuming disinfectant was a way to kill the virus and who contributed to the spread of misinformation. Meanwhile, she juggled public safety concerns for protesters that poured into the District to rally at potential superspreader events, including rallies for Black Lives Matter, ending gun violence and supporting Trump. Even worse, it was a year that included a major loss for the mayor, a beloved family member. Her oldest sister died recently from COVID-19.

One year later, a vaccine is making its way into the arms of District residents. Despite a flawed vaccine appointment system that city officials are trying to correct, vaccines are readily available in all eight wards.

Still, deaths continue from COVID-19, and the virus continues to spread. The pressure is fierce to reopen the city, especially when those around us in Maryland and Virginia are quickly moving back to normal. Still, Bowser is steadfast in keeping District residents safe. We don’t blame her for taking a hard-line position and appreciate her for every effort she makes to keep District residents safe.

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