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One year of COVID: ENC health leaders say collaborative efforts have helped in the battle

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 8:32 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The first case of COVID-19 in North Carolina was found on March 3, 2020. One year later, on March 3, 2021, more than 10,000 deaths in our state have been attributed to the virus.

That’s no small number, but health leaders say if not for the cooperation across health agencies, it could have been much higher.

“The virus doesn’t care about lines. It doesn’t care about what party or what church you go to. It just likes to infect humans. So, we’ve got to collaborate to beat it,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of Vidant Health.

Collaboration is the operative word across Eastern Carolina.

That same teamwork is facilitating the fight back against the virus as vaccines became available.

“Ten months after that, we were starting to vaccinate people for a deadly disease, which is a miracle,” said Waldrum. “This has never happened like this. And now we’re having the outcomes to show that that is a highly safe highly effective intervention.”

It’s been 12 months of learning, for everyone. That includes health communicators themselves.

“Sometimes what we thought was the right answer has not been the right answer, and that’s sort of behind some of the flip-flops we’ve seen through this, in terms of guidance. I know that’s been frustrating,” said Pitt County Health Director Dr. John Silvernail

But that frustration may pave the way to new understanding once the pandemic has passed.

“We have much to learn and to help teach other communities on how to solve these kinds of complex problems,” said Waldrum.

As health systems focus on the vaccination effort at hand, they have good faith that the end is around the corner.

“That should give us all optimism,” said Waldrum. And we’re going to continue to be very aggressive, proactive, agile, as we try to make sure we get shots in as many arms as fast as we can.”

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