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April 15, 2021

Other voices: As coronavirus pandemic winds down, let’s not falter

In a play last season that he may want to forget, former Duke star Daniel Jones, now the starting quarterback for the New York Giants, suddenly broke into the open in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

All that stood between Jones and an 80-yard touchdown run was unobstructed green turf.

Then something happened.

Only about 12 yards from a goal line, Jones inexplicably stumbled and fell, as if an invisible defender had leaped and stretched and made a shoestring tackle.

Down Jones went, clumsily and ingloriously.

As trailing teammates caught up, they both gave him congratulatory pats … and laughed.

The spill has played on highlight reels over and over.

As of Tuesday on YouTube, it had received 547,254 views.

“So does Jones get the tackle credit too,” one wise guy posted in a comment on YouTube.

And even while Jones may wish it never happened, we might do well to remember that play.

As the end appears in sight in our struggles against the coronavirus, we are collectively in danger of tripping over our own feet as a country.

And snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

With vaccine supplies increasing and vaccinations ramping up, there is more reason than ever to be optimistic.

More than one in three American adults have received at least one COVID shot. Vaccinations have reached a seven-day average of 2.76 million and the eligibility requirements are broadening.

A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines highly effective in preventing both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections. Yet, in the end, we may spoil all of this hard-earned progress with irrational exuberance.

And like Jones, we may be in for a fall.

Spring breakers descended on Miami Beach by the thousands, many of them ignoring masking and distancing protocols.

Some states, including Texas and Mississippi, lifted their mask mandates and other restrictions.

Infections are ticking upward again, prompting a visibly worried CDC director to plead for both patience and discipline.

Appearing on the verge of tears, Dr. Rochelle Walensky recounted the images of bodies last year in overflowing morgues and watching, from behind a mask and shield, as a COVID patient died alone in a hospital room.

“I am asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends,” Walensky said.

There is “so much reason for hope,” she said.

Then she added: “But right now I’m scared.”

What she fears is a fourth wave of infections and the rising threat of COVID variants.

She described it as “impending doom.”

We’re not sure the crowds in Miami Beach got the memo.

Even Jones’ alma mater, which had been a model for managing the pandemic on a college campus, saw a recent outbreak that forced a lockdown.

And some Republicans in the legislature keep trying to poke, prod and chip away at Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority to manage the virus.

So, yes, it would be a tragic shame to set ourselves back so close to the goal line.

That’s why a sprinting quarterback on the way to a sure touchdown came to mind. It’s not a sure thing until you’ve scored.

But upon further review, maybe Jones’ touchdown that wasn’t isn’t the best analogy.

Jones didn’t fail for lack of trying. And the
Giants did eventually score on that drive.

So maybe a better example would be one of those preening players who was so sure of himself that, just before crossing the goal line, he turned to taunt a pursuing defender.

And has the ball poked out of his hand.

— The Greensboro News & Record



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