ELYRIA, Ohio — March 9th marks one year since the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Ohio.
Two days later, the World Health Organization deemed it a pandemic. 365 days later, the battle against the virus continues.
So far, experts confirmed nearly a million COVID-19 cases in Ohio, as well as nearly 18,000 deaths.
At the same time, more than 2 million have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
Some of the lives changed drastically in the last year include those at Lorain County Public Health, who suddenly found themselves in the center of getting everyone through the pandemic.
Commissioner Dave Covell oversees Lorain County Public Health and watched his inbox explode overnight.
“I had read in my college classes about a pandemic and what it would look like if it ever came,” he explained. “It’s been that and more. When COVID first hit, it was all hands on deck.”
Lorain County saw its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 14, and experienced its peak in confirmed cases in November and December.
“In the summer, we had a little bit of a peak and we thought that was a big deal with 50 cases a day,” Covell added. “There was a point where we had 1500 cases in one week in the first week of December. That was our peak, and it was just overwhelming. We were doing everything we could to keep our head above water.”
Over the last year, the team with Lorain Public Health saw its role continuously expand and adapt, from distributing PPE and conducting contact tracing, to administering COVID-19 tests and antibody tests.
Another role they tackled was handling the misinformation, flying faster than the speed of light.
“The largest misconception is how contagious it is,” Epidemiologist Mitch Dandurand said. "A lot of people reacted as if it were the measles and this would be airborne and be passed in a room from one person. But the CDC did an excellent job of defining what exposure was and that is that 15 minutes of close contact.”
Dandurand will not brag about the 28 straight days he worked when the pandemic started. He’s more focused on tracking and investigating the coronavirus as it made its way through Lorain County.
“A lot of people sacrificed a year of their life to keep others safe,” he said.
Now, employees at Lorain County Public Health are working to vaccinate everyone they can, and Covell looks forward to the day when his team can finally take a much-needed break.
“By the end of April, we’ll have all the high-risk people and people over 65 all vaccinated and we’ll be opening up the doors for everyone else,” Covell said. “By June, the vaccine will be enough in the community to really put this pandemic to bed. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I promise it’s not a train.”
To learn more about Lorain County Public health's response to COVID-19, including how to get a vaccine and detailed numbers about the pandemic, click here.