By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
A year ago, the first coronavirus case in the U.S. was reported in Washington state. What exactly would you like to call it? First anniversary? It is the first anniversary, but I didn’t like to address it that way. It’s not a celebration and certainly not a milestone, connoting an achievement. It’s definitely not an occasion where you want to organize a party and invite friends over. COVID is the opposite for any kind of celebration.
We will never forget the 2 million deaths globally, and over 500,000 deaths in the U.S. As a journalist, we have to observe the overall picture, and ponder both sides. It isn’t all negative though.
COVID exposed Trump’s weakness
Without COVID, former president Donald Trump could have easily won the second term. COVID exposed his inability and incompetence to deal with a national crisis.
Bob Woodward, author of “Fear,” had warned that Trump was “the beast in the belly” in 2017. Just one crisis would be enough to challenge and overwhelm Trump. His prediction was correct because Trump was briefed about the virus in late January, and yet he didn’t do anything.
Not only did he not have a plan to fight the virus, he denied that the virus was deadly. He said, the virus would disappear as many as 40 times, and that it’s “just like the flu.” His strategy was to blame China. But blaming isn’t a solution, taking action immediately before the virus spread is.
I’m not saying Trump is dumb, but his lies and disinterest in governance to devise a plan to stop the virus became his downfall. What a price we had to pay for his fallible leadership and character! As his former defense secretary General Johnny Mattis said, Trump’s understanding of issues is like “a fifth and sixth grader.” Not only is he unwilling to learn complex subjects, he is lazy to study up on issues—which prompted an aide to disclose to CNN that if the briefings and presentations didn’t consist of a video, he wouldn’t pay attention.
What a remarkable achievement to showcase human genius by having three COVID vaccines, not just one, developed in less than a year!
Historically, a vaccine usually takes 10-15 years to develop. It is a lengthy process involving lots of research, testing and trials, and a combination of public and private involvement.
According to vaccines.org, the current system for developing, testing, and regulating vaccines developed during the 20th century, which involves time-consuming standardized procedures and regulations.
Miraculously, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson created vaccines one after the other. And there will be a couple more vaccines coming up.
Trump claimed he had the vaccine idea. We might never find out if it was him or his aides who suggested it. But his administration strongly pushed for the vaccine, and funded it.
“Don’t give him (Biden) the credit,” Trump said. Let’s give Trump credit for making the vaccines a reality. But he lacked the ability and vision to execute a seamless vaccination plan for the whole country. Then the election was held, and Biden defeated Trump. What incredible timing! Biden is a much better leader in developing a plan and infrastructure to expedite the process of bringing the vaccine to all. How fortunate we are as a country to have elected Biden, who is experienced in working the system inside out.
Not only that, Biden’s order of millions more vaccines has propelled the pharmaceutical companies to come up with innovations like Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, and Pfizer and Moderna can speed up production and require much less refrigeration. As of press time, over 50 million Americans have been inoculated, with 25 million receiving one-shot vaccine! Biden has been in office for only two months. If that is not success, what is?
Compassion stands out
Despite all the tragedy and agony during COVID, Anthony Chen, director of Health of Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, said he was impressed with the overwhelming compassion shown from so many individuals and organizations.
“We’re all traumatized to some degree so this is wonderful that people are really focusing on compassion, I love to see that continue,” Chen said during the Northwest Asian Weekly’s Community Health Excellent Award virtual event.
The pandemic is a life-changing event for both the giver and receiver. So many of us want to do something to show care and love, and make life a little easier for others. We might not be able to do much during a lockdown, but the least we can do is to share a glimpse of our humanity in this pandemic. We are in this together!
Growing our resilience
If we had known early on about our loss and sacrifice during COVID in 2020, I know I would say, “Hell no!”
Yet, here we are after one gruesome year, I am neither angry or depressed. And I would not even say that what I went through were sacrifices. On my plate is a loaf of gratitude.
Every day, we grow our resilience and adaptability, and marvel at our limitless patience and endurance. Is that who I am? I didn’t know that I am capable of—wanting less, and still, discovering joy in so many ways.
The pandemic has made me reevaluate the definition of success and failure. It has given me time to do things I have been procrastinating for a long time. I focus on doing less, but really enjoy doing it, including repairing my favorite pair of socks I bought from Japan. Before, if there’s a hole in my sock, I just threw them away without a second thought.
Sudden small surprises, like encountering friends in a park that I have not seen for more than a year, lifts up my spirit. On March 2, I won $50 from Uwajimaya’s Lunar New Year red envelope giveaway for customers who spend more than $30. I almost threw away the red envelopes like I have done for so many years, and then, forgot about it. But the clerk at Uwajimaya reminded me about it and I claimed my prize. Not only did I feel lucky, it was serendipity. Finding Cheesecake Factory’s brown bread at QFC last year was delightful. It’s also a lesson of survival for Cheesecake Factory to sell outside their restaurants. With COVID, we have to be creative, positive, and help ourselves and others to move forward. We can’t survive by moaning and groaning what we have lost or can’t have.
What does it mean to be positive? Take the insurrection on Jan. 6 at the Capitol, for instance. The riot stained our country’s image and our history. However, it also educated me about U.S. history, the Constitution, and the November presidential election. With COVID and Trump vs. Biden, it is probably the most important election in my lifetime, and the largest voter turnout in the U.S. Those 80 million voters who voted for Biden, were saying, we don’t want another four more years of Trump, we don’t want Trump to tackle COVID because he didn’t and can’t, and we want changes.
The COVID anniversary challenges us to think and learn. Adversity is a great teacher. We just have to learn how to dance and play in a storm.
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.