Living with COVID Year 3: Hope and Caution

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Friday, March 4, 2022
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It has been exactly two years since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New York, diagnosed in a health care worker who had traveled to Iran.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It has been exactly two years since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New York, diagnosed in a health care worker who had traveled to Iran.

While her case was contained, the virus would soon spread through the city, the state and the nation with a speed and ferocity few had expected.

For many, it is also unexpected that two full years later, the novel coronavirus would still be playing such a huge role in virtually every aspect of our lives.

COVID is not going to just go away, but there are signs that the virus is slowing and that the U.S. and world are embarking on a new phase in the fight.

So what will the next year look like? What will the next five years look like? And what does the future hold when it comes to everything from school and work to vaccinations and mandates?

Our Eyewitness News special -- Living with COVID Year 3: Hope and Caution -- examines those questions, talking to doctors, city and state leaders, and people whose lives have been changed by COVID.

Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson looks at where things stand as we transition from pandemic to endemic.

There's no question this pandemic has taken a toll on just about everyone. We have lived not just with a deadly virus that has claimed the lives of nearly 1 million Americans, but also the shutdown of what we once called "normal life."

Most people are more cautious, and a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the majority of Americans support some restrictions to help control the virus.

RELATED | Our America: Health Equity & COVID | Watch full panel discussion

According to the poll, 60% said they favor restrictions on daily life in order to keep COVID at bay, but at the same time, 56% said they have either "fully" or "mostly" returned to pre-pandemic life.

So how do you balance mandates designed to keep people safe with a pandemic-weary populace? New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy talked about pandemic fatigue.

The first case in New York was diagnosed by Dr. Angela Chen, an emergency room physician at Mount Sinai Hospital, and the numbers kept growing exponentially.

Hospitals were overwhelmed as New York became the epicenter of the virus, no more so than at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens.

Hospital beds were scarce, PPE was nonexistent, and one medical resident described conditions as "apocalyptic."

Eyewitness News reporter Jim Dolan revisited Elmhurst two years later to see how things have changed.

As we enter year three of living with COVID, it is almost unfathomable to think of the number of people who have contracted the virus.

Nearly 80 million Americans have tested positive, with more than 100,000 a day still getting it. More grim, about 2,000 Americans continue to die from COVID daily.

There have been nearly 5 million cases in New York, 2.1 million in New Jersey, and more than 700,000 in Connecticut.

Some people have caught the virus more than once, and others are considered so-called long-haulers, whose symptoms last months or even years.

Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Sager has some of their stories.

Many questions continue to arise about the nature of the virus and the path forward.

ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton tackles a few of them.

COVID has also had a dramatic impact on how people work and live, with many jobs going remote and others disappearing entirely.

With many businesses shut down, employees transitioned to new careers or moved to new places as remote work opened up opportunities.

RELATED | Doctors answer your COVID questions

In New York City alone, it's been estimated that more than 400,000 people left -- taking their income, the city's tax base, and all the money they spent with them.

Stamford was an area that saw an economic boost as a result, and as mandates are being lifted and people return to offices, what happens to all the people who fled?

Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis looked at shifts in both employment and population.

Watch Living with COVID Year 3: Hope and Caution in the player above and for an even better experience, watch on the big screen by downloading one of our connected TV apps.

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