I.C. MURRELL — Peace over increasing caution

Published 12:10 am Friday, March 27, 2020

For Estelle Edwards to have to deal with this latest pandemic would have been a little unnerving on an 89-year-old widow.

She would have been well past the minimum age where humans are more at risk for coronavirus, and a world of unknown for her children and grandchildren would have turned into a world of panic.

That’s not quite how all of us saw the threat of coronavirus even a couple of weeks ago, and it’s not quite how everyone sees it even today.

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Two weeks ago, I marveled at the Nederland Heritage Festival’s ability to continue to celebrate community and family without demanding social distancing. I don’t entirely regret that because I’ve stressed the importance of vigilance about coronavirus and, somehow, the numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Jefferson County have remained relatively low in the days since then.

That can change, for sure, but what that tells me is that people have taken precautions to contain the spread of an invisible sickness we’re still learning about, a sickness we can only hope doesn’t come around as yearly as the flu.

For all the whole-number statistical comparison on coronavirus to the flu — COVID-19 cases represent only a fraction of flu cases — the stories are just heartbreaking:

  • a 36-year-old high school principal from Brooklyn died from coronavirus complications;
  • a Georgia healthcare worker died at age 42, and a posthumous coronavirus test revealed she had COVID-19; and
  • playwright Terrence McNally succumbed to complications from the disease just on Tuesday.

How cruel it was that a man who took Broadway by storm would die two days shy of the 20th anniversary of the day I, along with a few friends from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, took the stage at Carnegie Hall.

Never in a million years did I think that something that can’t be seen could cause a Port Arthur health clinic to shut its doors, even if on a temporary basis, and that we as a country wouldn’t be fully prepared to fight it. But, praise God, we have locals with hearts big enough to hand-sew face masks for nurses, a recycling company that will repurpose to mass-produce hand sanitizer and a restaurant that will feed police officers in Port Neches.

Estelle Edwards, a longtime Memphis resident, would have loved the fighting spirit of us Southeast Texans. Westerns on television also would have been enough for her to observe “stay at home” policies in an otherwise picturesque neighborhood.

Mrs. Edwards, aka Madea, gained her wings March 25, 2019. She fought her fights and saw a lot of change in society through the decades.

Her anniversary isn’t of sadness but of a reminder that it’s our time to adapt to more-frequent change, and that we will survive this pandemic.

I.C. Murrell is the editor of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at ic.murrell@panews.com.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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