1 year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Madison County
March 23,2020... the Jackson Madison County Regional Health Department called a press conference late in the evening.
Director of the health department, Kim Tedford and chief compliance and communications officer for West Tennessee Healthcare, Amy Garner were both there.
“We knew it was imminent that we would have our first case, we just didn’t know when. It wasn’t surprising, we just needed to get the information out to the public before it gets out ahead of us," says Tedford as she looks back to that day.
“Well I remember being very nervous, we had already had our first hospitalization at Jackson Madison County General Hospital, a patient that came from Chester county. So, we already had our first case here in the hospital and we knew things were ramping up pretty quickly," adds Garner.
The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Madison county that night.
Task forces were activated and county leaders went into action as case numbers continuously rose from that day forward.
Tedford talks about the days and months after, “It was hard, we started out slow and when we look back at a lot of the press releases, we creeped up, that number kind of creeped up everyday".
There were days were the number of new cases reached an all time high in the county and COVID hospitalizations were well over 100 patients.
After the first confirmed case in Madison county the demand for those on the frontline never slowed, but the community kept them hopeful.
“Let me show you, this is just one stack of letters of cards that I’ve received in the mail. I’ve got more in the rock. That is just mail I’ve received from people in the community," explains Tedford.
“Well this year has been incredibly challenging on our staff, but we saw so much support from our community. We had prayer vigils, we had people writing messages in chalk on our sidewalk," adds Garner.
Health officials counted down to the day a vaccine would finally be available to help slow the spread of the virus.
“It was just like I don’t know if we can do one more thing, if we get any more cases. We had our contact tracers working until 9 at night, every night as many as we could just to stay above water," Tedford explains.
Now a year later…
Between West Tennessee Healthcare and the health department over 45,000 Madison county residents are vaccinated.
Tedford and Garner both say they see hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.