On December 31, 2019, a brief release appeared on the website of the World Health Organization (WHO). Captioned “Pneumonia of unknown cause – China,” it briefly reported about a number of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in the city of Wuhan, a port city of 11 million inhabitants. Few in this country took note, with the notable exception of scientific specialists in the areas of infectious diseases and public health.
Halfway around the world, Governors and state legislators were preparing for their annual legislative sessions. Virginia was among the first of the states to convene, and they did so on January 8. Major changes were contemplated for the state, since the Democrats had just taken control of the legislature and held the Governor’s office as well. On the other side of the country, Washington state convened its own session on January 13. Both states were making history as each elected their first women Speakers in history — Eileen Filler-Corn in Virginia and Laurie Jinkins in Washington. And Democratic Governors Jay Inslee of Washington and Ralph Northam were optimistic about making their marks on their states in light of a strong economy and Democratic majorities. Within two months, they would join other Governors across the nation, as they confronted the greatest challenges of their administrations, and their states would be plunged into the most serious crisis since the Great Depression. [Read more…]