Academic Administrator Annette Wedderburn and her husband of 23 years believe that the pandemic has brought them closer together. (Courtesy photos)

By Trae Mitchell
Special to the AFRO

Annette Wedderburn, an administrator for a local university, and her husband of 23 years believe COVID-19 has brought them closer together. Not only do they have the opportunity to see each other working and support each other in their work, but they also have the chance to make dates out of everyday routines.

“We’ve dated more during this time than we did before,” said Wedderburn of Bowie, Md. “We look forward to doing the little things. Quality time feels more natural.”

On Feb. 12, the State of Maryland reported a total of 368,004 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began a year ago with 1,199 cases occurring on Feb. 11 alone. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported new strains of the COVID-19 virus at the beginning of this month. According to the CDC, the new strains, identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, are more easily spread from person to person.

With the new status of the COVID-19 pandemic, many feel pressure to stay safe, which adds to anxieties that typically come with Valentine’s Day.

To Shako Oteka, a single UX designer based in Silver Spring, Md., Valentine’s Day has made him reflect on the difficulty of dating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s like we’re back in middle school trying to get to know each other with a corded phone,” said Oteka.

He said that he has to take extra precautions when dating in the age of COVID-19, not only for himself but also for his sister, who has Lupus.

“I take six weeks to get to know a person before I consider meeting up,” said Oteka. 

The importance people place on following safety regulations is essential to Oteka. “You get to see how a person acts more just by whether or not they wear a mask. You can see if they are respectful and considerate of those they come into contact with,” he said.

Celeste Laine, a sophomore architecture major at Morgan State University, said she and her significant other’s families feel comfortable with them interacting in person. “Our families are okay with us dating and hanging out. They trust that they are not doing anything reckless,” Laine said. 

During Valentine’s Day weekend, Laine and her boyfriend of one and a half years are taking a trip to Florida to celebrate her mom’s birthday.

“We are making sure to take health precautions because we’re in a different state,” she said.

“I feel like Valentine’s should still be celebrated during COVID-19,” said Laine. “You’re probably going to be hanging out, so just go ahead and do something safe.”

Oteka said that Valentine’s Day should be a time for all people to take care of themselves.

“Valentine’s Day this year is more about self-care and self-love,” he said. “It’s a time for me to focus on myself and my goals. To reflect on where I want to be in the next couple of months.”

The writer is a student in the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.