EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) – March 19, 2020 was the day the coronavirus hit home.
The first three cases in the Tri-State were reported the same day. There was one case in Henderson, one in Owensboro and one in Vanderburgh County.
Shortly after the first cases were reported, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker shared a direct message with the state.
“This is going to affect your daily life,” the governor said.
Illinois was the first of our states to lock in, followed by Kentucky and then Indiana.
Schools quickly became empty, running parking lots.
We cleared the shelves of important things, things we needed to survive.
However, there was no shortage of volunteers.
Community members take matters into their own hands and step up to help mask our students must return to school in August.
Mary Miller was one of them.
“Even when I make them for my friends and they send pictures of their kids,” Miller said, “you just know, hope it can help.”
Later that summer, students boarded buses for the first time in six months.
Videos showed students and families what to expect for the fall semester.
Then it was good news December 16, 2020.
The first of thousands of vaccines to go into arms across the Tri-State, beginning with the Deaconess Health System.
“I really think my heart ached, knowing what a crucial moment this is,” said Dr. Amanda Bohleber, a family physician at Deaconess.
Others at Baptist Health Madisonville said they were excited about the upcoming trip, knowing we would have to “keep fighting.”
“Keep fighting” is exactly what we did.
Despite all the curve balls, COVID classes ended the school year personally a year inside the pandemic.
“They did an amazing job teaching this year,” said Rylan Wagner, a 5th grader at Newburgh Elementary.
The summer holidays led to a good kind of “summer blues.” Many of our Indiana counties dropped to the lowest advisory level on the state map with coronavirus metrics.
“As things progress, hopefully the numbers will remain good,” said Vanderburgh County Health Department Administrator Joe Gries.
However, the pandemic had other plans.
We were faced with the most contagious variant yet – the Delta variant.
At the time, Deaconess President Dr. James Porter this news: “We now have a more contagious variant that is more likely to result in hospitalizations.”
So we as a society fought the virus again. The school was back, the masks were back, and so was the coronavirus in full force.
Local COVID-19 hospital admissions have hit a record high in the fall of 2021.
Frontline heroes forced to hold in the hands of dying patients separated from their loved ones.
“The screams from the family on the other side of the door still wake me up at night,” said Sarah McQuay, a nurse working in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at Diaconess. “I hear them asleep. I do not want that, not even my worst enemy.”
The positive boost we all needed then came in the form of a booster shot.
“So get vaccinated, get your booster,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said, “and if you have not done so, whatever the excuse is, take it as soon as you can.”
While we are fighting against what is left of the Omicron variant, we are days away from spring. It is a new season with new hope and with the same message.
“Hopefully we will kick this,” McQuay said. “We want to make a difference. We just need the community to help us.”
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