As cases drop, Central Texans reflect on 2-year anniversary of WHO declaring pandemic

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Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 6:01 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - March 11, 2022 marked the somber second anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, raising it to a level of global concern.

Since the Omicron surge around the holidays, cases globally are declining, and mask mandates in the US are being lifted.

Many Central Texas communities are seeing the downward turn of COVID-19. The CDC’s COVID-19 community threat level map Friday showed McLennan County has a low threat level. However, other communities like Bell County continue to be designated as a high-threat level for COVID-19.

Many people in Central Texas have had firsthand experiences battling the virus.

Brittney Littrel, who battled COVID-19 on a ventilator, is one of them. “When they intubated me, they weren’t sure I was going to make it,” she said.

“For public health across the state, those first few weeks of the covid-19 pandemic were just uncertain. There wasn’t much precedence for how we should respond so we just kind of had to wait for guidance from state,” said LaShonda Malrey-Horne, the director of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District that managed the pandemic response in McLennan County.

In two years, the world has seen multiple variants of COVID-19 but it has also seen multiple vaccines, boosters even COVID-19 treatment drugs and now restrictions on masking are easing up.

But still the grim reality exists of just how much this pandemic has taken from us. About 3,019 people have died from COVID-19 in Central Texas, according to the Texas Health and Human Services COVID-19 dashboard.

“Most of these people were strangers to us but every time we got a death report we felt the impact of it. We always remember those that lost their lives during this time. Their memories will not be forgotten for sure,” Malrey-Horne said.

As COVID-19 numbers drop and restrictions ease, many are looking to welcoming a new era of the COVID-19 story called an endemic. That’s a point where the virus is still present but like the flu it is stable and controlled and no longer a disruption to everyday life.

We are cautiously optimistic that we are on the downside of the pandemic, but we are not really at a point where we can say that we have reached like this magic number of heard immunity or enough people have been infected or not,” Malrey-Horne said.

Nationwide, more than 950,000 have died as the country and the rest of the world experience surge after surge, from variants like alpha, delta, and omicron.

A new analysis published in the Lancet suggests the global death toll may be more than three times higher than official records show. There were 5.9 million deaths from January 2020 to December 2021, but U.S. researchers estimate 18.2 million during that period.

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