Charles Owens mug

Charles Owens

While it may seem hard to believe, the month of March marks the one-year anniversary of the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, and all of the disruptive pandemic restrictions that followed in the weeks and months afterwards.

Life as we know it, more or less, was turned upside down within a short 12-month period. We quickly learned that the virus was real, as were the bad politicians who have exploited the health emergency for their own political gain.

Now, one year later, vaccines and virus variants are the story of the day. And we’re still wearing masks. At least some of us are wearing masks. Many, who refused to mask up on day one, are still walking around in stores without a mask on. Vaccine or not, that’s a risky thing to do, particularly with all of the virus variants, also known as mutations, circulating out there.

Mutations. Isn’t that an odd word?

It’s like we are all actors playing a role in a bad science fiction movie.

I think back to 2017’s “War for the Planet of the Apes,” a science fiction prequel to the original  “Planet of the Apes” from 1968. In the 2017 film, a deadly virus that has wiped out most of humanity suddenly “mutates.” The virus mutation takes away the ability to speak for the remaining humans. That, of course, allows the 2017 prequel to align with the 1968 original, in which humans were unable to speak.

But science fiction is no longer just science fiction. COVID-19 can temporarily take away your sense of taste and smell, but thankfully not your ability to speak. Still prior to the year 2020, all of this talk about pandemics and mutations would have sounded like something straight out of a bad science fiction movie, and not the real world headache that we’ve been dealing with for the past 12 months or so.

No one ever thought the pandemic would drag on for this long, but it has. Of course, such was the case during the last global pandemic of 1918-1919.

Now, with the race toward herd immunity on, the question is whether or not we can turn back the plague before we face another potential surge of new cases and hospitalizations stemming from the now suddenly crowded field of virus variants out there. Who knows if the next mutation will be resistant to these new vaccines that scientists continue to engineer?

Pandemic fatigue has taken a toll on all of us. I know just about everyone is ready for this to be over with all ready.

Sadly, it’s still not over. Not yet anyhow. Maybe by late spring or early summer, but honestly who knows at this point? The good news is that local virus cases are still decreasing. In fact, the number of active virus cases in Mercer County has finally fallen below 300. That number stood at 289 on Tuesday.

I still remember March of 2020, when everything started to fall apart so quickly. Suddenly, out of nowhere, schools were closed and governors were issuing “stay at home” orders. But what exactly did a “stay at home” order really mean? Because, after all, people still went to Walmart, and those few stores that were allowed to stay open. And back then, folks were allowed to enter those stores that were open without a mask.

Yes, it has been a long 12 months, but March of 2021 is finally here.

Will it be a calm and normal March, or another wild one? I guess time will tell.

Personally, I’m ready for this bad science fiction movie to come to an end.

— Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

 

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