When we first started hearing the warnings about the approaching pandemic, it was difficult to imagine that COVID-19 would come to sleepy little Calhoun County. Most residents didn’t take it seriously, and frankly, we at the Health Department probably weren’t as concerned as we should have been at that point. On April 4, however, that all changed. We received notification of our first positive in the County, and our little team converged for the first of many weekend huddles. “Contact tracing” was no longer just some words in a grant…it was suddenly a way of life. It was several weeks before we had another, but our imaginary bubble of protection had been burst, and there was no going back. The news was shocking to the community, and the demands began for more information about the affected individual. This initiated our first explanation of HIPAA, and the need to protect patient privacy. Our explanations were met with a variety of reactions. Most people were understanding, but this was new and frightening to everyone. We did, therefore, receive comments expressing anger, mistrust, disbelief, and panic. A bit of our innocence was lost that April, as we all began to realize and fear the monster that was slowly emerging from the shadows.
While reflecting on the early days of the pandemic, how seriously did you take Covid-19 and how has your perspective changed throughout the last year?