Looking back on two-year battle with COVID-19

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Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 3:42 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - March 19, 2020 was the day the Coronavirus hit home.

The first three cases in the Tri-State were reported on the same day. There was one case in Henderson, one in Owensboro and one in Vanderburgh County.

Soon after those first cases were reported, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker shared a blunt message with the state.

“This is going to affect your daily life,” said the governor.

Illinois was the first of our states to lock down, followed by Kentucky and then Indiana.

Schools quickly became empty, drive-by parking lots.

We cleared the shelves of essential items, things we needed to survive.

Volunteers, however, were not in short supply.

Community members taking matters into their own hands, stepping up to help mask our students heading back 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,” said Miller, “you know, just, hope it can help.”

Later that summer, students boarded busses for the first time in six months.

Videos showed students and families what they could expect for the fall semester.

Then it was good news on December 16, 2020.

The first of thousands of vaccines going into arms across the Tri-State, starting with Deaconess Health System.

“I think really my heart was racing, know what a pivotal moment this is,” said Dr. Amanda Bohleber, a family medicine doctor with Deaconess.

Others at Baptist Health Madisonville said they were excited for the journey ahead, knowing that we would have to “keep on fighting.”

“Keep on fighting” is exactly what we did.

Despite all the curveballs, the COVID class finished the school year in-person one year into the pandemic.

“They did an amazing job teaching this year,” said Rylan Wagner, a 5th grader at Newburgh Elementary.

Summer break led to a good kind of “summer blues.” Many of our Indiana counties fell into the lowest advisory level on the state’s coronavirus metrics map.

“As things progress, hopefully the numbers stay good,” said Vanderburgh County Health Department Administrator Joe Gries.

The pandemic, however, had other plans.

We faced with the most contagious variant yet – the Delta variant.

At the time, Deaconess President Dr. James Porter shared this news: “We now have a more highly contagious variant that is more likely to result in hospitalizations.”

So we, as a community, fought the virus again. School was back, masks were back and so was the coronavirus in full force.

Local COVID-19 hospitalizations hit an all-time high in the fall of 2021.

Frontline heroes forced to hold the hands of dying patients who were separated from 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 ICU at Deaconess. “I hear them in my sleep. I don’t wish that on anyone, 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,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, “and if you haven’t, no matter what the excuse is, go get it as fast as you can.”

As we battle what’s left of the Omicron variant, we are days away from Spring. It’s a new season with new hope and with the same message.

“Hopefully we are going to kick this,” said McQuay. “We are going to make a difference. We just need the community to help us.”

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