It is certainly amazing to me that over a year has passed since our nation and the rest of the world entered one of the most challenging times in our history as we dealt with what became known as the COVID-19 Pandemic. It was declared a Global Pandemic on March 11, 2020, by the World Health Organization.
There is much we don’t know about the actual origins of the deadly virus. Although it was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, China, much more than that is simply speculation. However, authorities and experts are diligently seeking more detailed information and a clearer picture of the origins and causes of this deadly disease.
The first documented case within the United States was confirmed on January 21, 2020, in the State of Washington. It was there that it was determined a man who had returned from Wuhan was infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, after testing in a medical facility. COVID-19 was named as such because of its relationship to the virus which was responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2003.
By February 29, the United States had its first COVID-19-related death. A 50-year-old man with no travel history outside of U.S. would come down with the virus. As more information came in from throughout the nation, it was discovered that two additional deaths on February 6 and February 17 also had been caused by the virus
Much confusion and speculation would be forthcoming over the next couple of weeks. On March 13, then-President Trump would declare COVID-19 a National Emergency. This triggered the availability of Federal assets to state and local governmental agencies.
The months to come would see expert after expert issue, and then clarify, statements regarding the pandemic, its causes, how the disease might be transmitted and preventive measures. People were confused, and various state mandates regarding how best to deal with the growing challenges were instituted.
The human toll was mounting with the passage of each day. Travel restrictions and the closure of schools and businesses across the nation were commonplace. These restrictions would take a huge economic toll on both businesses and families, compounding the challenges faced by leadership at all levels within the nation.
The disease would not overlook anyone. Even the President of the United States and his wife fell victim to its ever-expanding reach. As historians look back upon the events of this past year, they may well declare the Presidential Election of 2020, which was lost by the incumbent, as another victim of the pandemic.
The first rays of hope came with the announcement that Pfizer and BioNTech jointly were close to approval of their vaccine to combat the disease. On December 11, 2020, the companies were granted permission for emergency use. Clinical trials showed a success rate of 95% for their product.
Some of the first critical care professionals had the vaccine administered to them within the next three days, and on December 18, a second vaccine, which was developed by Moderna, was authorized for emergency use.
There were some logistical issues regarding the rollout of the vaccines. However, considering the fact that those companies were able to crack the code, allowing the production, testing and certification of the first two vaccines, was nothing short of a miracle and a tribute to the scientific and governmental agencies involved.
The battle is far from over as we continue to administer more and more vaccine shots to the most vulnerable of our society and those on the front line who are carrying out the battle against this invisible enemy. We now have a third vaccine, developed by Johnson and Johnson, approved for our arsenal against this cruel enemy, and we continue to make great progress.
Speaking for myself, I am proud of the Marco Island community, especially of those men and women in uniform who have done an outstanding job in caring for our most vulnerable in the battle, and the volunteer organizations that have helped the elderly or technology-challenged obtain the important appointments for their immunization shots, and those who have volunteered to drive their neighbors and friends to appointments.
Last week alone, we administered over 300 vaccinations to our citizens, and the process is proceeding smoothly at the Mackle Park facility. Marco Fire/Rescue, Collier County EMS and the Marco Island Police Department have done an outstanding job and are owed a huge debt of gratitude.
It has been a challenging year, but as a community, we have met this challenge and will continue to do so. You should be proud of yourselves and the organizations that have stepped up to the task of doing for so many of our fellow citizens.
So long as we concentrate on the positive and push through the negative, we will persevere. We still have a way to go, but I am confident that we will do so by staying the course and setting an example for others, as we look to return to normalcy over these months to come.