Two years after Mississippi’s first COVID case, leaders reflect on how much has changed

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 9:37 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2022 at 9:39 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -March 11 marks two years since the first reported case of COVID-19 in the state of Mississippi.

The email came into newsrooms statewide just before 8:00 p.m. on March 11. What followed was months of daily updates from the Governor, often with announcements of new orders: shelter in place, schools closing, testing expanded, or later vaccine rollout.

“It’s a real challenge and a real heartbreaking time for so many Mississippians and while as a leader of government and as a leader of the state,” noted Governor Tate Reeves Friday. “It’s been a challenging time for me. I’m just one of 3 million people in our state that’s had a challenging time of the last couple of years.”

In many ways, Dr. LouAnn Woodward at UMMC was the voice of the frontlines as healthcare leaders statewide did what they often do — make decisions under pressure, this time in a different way.

“The people who have stepped up and just willing to give it all they’ve got,” noted Woodward, UMMC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine. “It has been inspiring.”

Still, she admits there are some battle scars left to heal.

“I think the health care workers, the physicians on the frontline, the nurses, the social workers, the chaplains, the respiratory therapists, so many people that really have been through a significant trauma,” added Woodward. “I mean, this is not something that they will recover from when our count gets down to nothing. People are exhausted; they are still exhausted and need. It will just take time. It will take time and space and distance, and better days. You know a good day really can help you heal a lot.”

Even as case totals dwindle, there are still unknowns. Dr. Gailen Marshall is leading a study that UMMC is participating in on why some patients develop long COVID but also how to prevent and treat it.

“It turns out in adults and children, it’s all across the spectrum,” noted Marshall, Executive Director of Mississippi Clinical Research and Trials Center at UMMC. And depending upon who you read, the numbers look like they’re anywhere from a third to a half of the individuals who’ve been infected initially with COVID will have some form of this long haul illness.”

They’re now recruiting people to participate in the four-year study. If you or someone in your family has had COVID or are feeling the long-term effects of COVID, you might be able to help researchers understand more about it and treat it. Even if you haven’t had COVID, you may be able to help. Learn more about how to be a part of the study by calling 815-496-7837 Monday-Friday 7:30 am -4:40 pm. Details about the study can also be found HERE.

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