(WXYZ) — On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization first called the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. As we mark the three-year anniversary we are taking a look at what has changed.
In Detroit, plans are underway for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday in Corktown. Three years ago it was canceled at the last minute to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We survived. We are lucky,” said Patrick Osman, the manager of Nemo’s a historic bar along the parade route on Michigan Avenue. “You look at things differently. You kind of appreciate everything a little more.”
Many of us are here to appreciate everything a little more thanks to the hard work of the healthcare workers.
“The feeling was, like, shoulder to shoulder, we march off to war,” said Dr. Matthew Sims, Director of Infectious Disease Research for Corewell Health.
When the pandemic started, he was on the front lines fighting a war against a terrible disease. They didn’t have enough PPE in hospitals as the number of people sick skyrocketed.
“I didn’t want to bring this home to my wife or my kids. I was seeing families get admitted,” Dr. Sims recalls. “The patient I remember most was the first patient I saw die. He was young, relatively healthy with two young kids. And nobody could come in and see them because they were in COVID isolation. That is going to haunt me forever.”
Dr. Sims says the pandemic is not over. People are still getting sick at a high rate. However, immunity from infection and vaccination has decreased the severity and there are new treatments. He says he still takes precautions to prevent getting sick, for example by getting vaccine boosters when suggested and wearing a mask in crowded areas.
“Right now long COVID is still a big thing,” he warns.
Dr. Sims says we now have tools - such as tests, masks vaccines to minimize risks while living life to the fullest.
“My hope is I will never see anything like this again,” he said.
Back at Nemo’s Osman says he expects many more will be celebrating life and St Patty’s day this weekend.
“We’d like to see our friends again. We haven’t seen all of them. Hopefully, we will get them all back,” said Osman.