Medical professionals reflect on two years since the start of the pandemic in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – Monday marked two years since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Virginia. On March 7, 2020, a Marine from Fort Belvoir tested positive for the virus. Since then, the Virginia Department of Health has recorded more than 1.6 million cases and nearly 19,000 deaths.

“I think we’ve all done things that we never thought we would or could do,” said Sarah Widmer, a nurse with the Richmond and Henrico Health District.

It’s a bittersweet milestone for many healthcare workers who reflect on how far they’ve come with declining cases and hospitalizations, but also remembering all the lives lost over the past two years. Also noteworthy is the massive exodus of health professionals now leaving their profession due to burnout.

“If you think back to March and April 2020, in the state of Virginia and across the country, we had people cheering for healthcare workers and signs saying ‘We’ve got your back,’ Dr. Kyle Enfield, director of the ‘UVA Medical ICU’ More time, for many reasons, which has diminished.

For Dr. Enfield, escalating social unrest and lack of trust in doctors are the main stressors he tackled two years later.

“People will come and no longer follow the recommendations of the doctors and nurses who care for them,” he said. “I think that’s one of the things that saddens me a lot as we enter the second anniversary of COVID-19.”

Enfield says he reflects on the lives they couldn’t save and the sacrifices healthcare workers like him have made. The impact hit him when he read an essay written by his son, who is only in 6th grade.

“It all started with ‘Have you ever lost anyone or thought you lost anyone to COVID-19? Well I have. Because I haven’t seen my dad most of this year said Dr. Enfield, reciting his son’s essay.

With a virus that mutates and adapts like COVID-19 does, it’s impossible to say for sure, but epidemiologists are hopeful.

“A lot of people I’ve spoken to who are in epidemiology will say that there will hopefully be a trend towards milder diseases or milder variants in the future,” Dr Enfield said.

Widmer says it’s the mass vaccination effort that keeps her inspired as the pandemic progresses.

“In my entire career, I’ve never seen or been part of anything more powerful than giving vaccines to communities because people are so grateful,” Widmer said.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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