MUSKEGON, Mich. — It has been a long twelve months, but January 20, 2021 marks one-year since COVID-19 first arrived in the United States.
Across the country, nearly 23.7 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported, and more than 400,000 people have been killed by the virus.
In Michigan, more than 540,000 people reported being infected by the virus, and nearly 14,000 people have died.
The virus has touched almost every corner of the country, impacting frontline healthcare workers, patients, families, and businesses.
"It feels like it's been a year," said Dr. Andrew Jameson, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control, and the Division Chief of Infectious Diseases at Mercy Health.
Dr. Jameson says while he reflects on the introduction to COVID-19 in the United States, he never anticipated how it would play out.
"The end of January, early February, I think we were relatively hopeful that it would that it would fizzle out on its own. It rapidly became apparent that it wouldn't be," said Dr. Jameson.
While the virus killed hundreds-of-thousands of people, there were also survivors.
Among the group of survivors, includes husband and father Rick Jones form Muskegon.
"I'm getting stronger every day. It's a long hard process," said Jones.
Jones was discharged from Mercy Health on January 11, 2021 after a nearly two-month battle with COVID-19, which included being put on a ventilator twice.
"I just remember coming off the vent, realizing when I woke up that, number one, it wasn't in heaven. And, you know, number two, where do I go from here?," said Jones.
He said while on the ventilators he was unconsciously fighting with the help of doctors and nurses, and family and friend's prayers.
Once he woke up from the ventilators a second time, he decided he was ready to fight for himself, family, and dedicated medical team.
"They keep fighting, you know, they keep doing the job that they have to do. And, you know, they're a Godsend," said Jones. "I owe everything to them."
Dr. Jameson says the past twelve months have been difficult on their doctors and nurses, some people having to switch roles within the company because they could not cope with the loss.
"Patients dying. You just rapidly realized that people would come in that no matter what we did for them, that we had loss of life," said . Dr. Jameson. "Also, just the division that our country went through, over something that should have been black and white science has been really hard to deal with. I felt like we were fighting two different battles, we were fighting the battle against the virus, and a battle against disinformation."
Now, one year later, the focus is widespread vaccination.
Until that happens, frontline workers will keep running towards the finish line. Winning victories along the way, helping people like Jones.
"It's not a risk you want to take," said Jones. "I hope people listen to what I'm saying. And they take this seriously because you just don't know."
Michigan didn't see its first case of the virus until March.
For more information about COVID-19 prevention and numbers, click here.