COVID-19: 1 year later

Many milestones could be considered to mark the one year point into the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

The first known coronavirus patient in the country was seen at Providence Medical Center on Jan. 21, 2020.

The federal government declared the public health emergency 10 days later.

The World Health Organization said the novel coronavirus was officially a pandemic on March 11.

Then CMS suggested hospitals cease elective procedures on March 18 in order to free up space for potential surges of COVID-19 patients.

There’s no doubt that it was March of last year when the vast majority of people in the country realized the pandemic was about to change their way of life, at least for a while. Working form home became the norm for those with that ability, stay-at-home orders came down and, eventually, mask mandates started appearing.

A year later, hope is beginning to bloom as three coronavirus vaccines have been authorized for emergency use in the United States. As of Sunday, nearly 70 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and distribution is improving every week.

For the healthcare industry, much has changed, and some of those alterations may be permanent.

Providers have learned a lot over the past year, including how to improve systemwide communications and work on more efficient patient flow strategies.

And hospital staff have faced unprecedented levels of stress and burnout, leading to concerns about hiring enough people and keeping them well in the future.

Meanwhile, most primary care providers have largely recovered from the pandemic financially, but they’re increasingly frustrated with lack of access to coronavirus vaccine to give to their patients, many of whom report worsening chronic medical conditions.

The series launched Monday, with new stories being added throughout the week. Keep up with them here.