One Year Ago: Looking Back at the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Text from this post is taken from a media statement by CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. This statement was made in observance of marking one-year since the official declaration of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

One year ago today, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The toll of this disease and the continued loss of life around the world and in our nation is heartbreaking. To so many of you who have felt the pain and loss of a loved one during this pandemic – you have suffered the ultimate loss, and we grieve with you.

After a year of this fight, we are tired, we are lonely, we are impatient. There have been too many missed family gatherings, too many lost milestones and opportunities, too many sacrifices. And still, through it all, there is determination; there are stories of giving and hope, of stamina and perseverance.  We are better together, and together, we will endure.

The vaccination of millions every day gives me hope. Hope that we can beat this pandemic. And hope that we can get back to being with our family, friends, and community. And soon.

Earlier this week, CDC released our first evidence-based guidance for fully vaccinated people. These new recommendations are a first step in our process of returning to everyday activities – safely spending time with family and friends, hugging our grandparents and grandchildren, and celebrating birthdays and holidays.

While we accumulate more evidence to support the safe return to everyday activities, please continue taking precautions in public and when around people who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease. Whether you are already vaccinated or not yet vaccinated, wear a well-fitted mask, practice physical distancing, wash your hands often, avoid medium and large gatherings, and avoid travel. We know these measures work to prevent the spread of this virus and help protect each other. 

This pandemic will end. And, our public health work will continue. Through the near-blinding spotlight of this crisis, we now clearly see what we should have addressed before– the long-standing inequities that prevent us from achieving optimal health for all. We see the impact of years of neglect of our public health infrastructure. We see the critical need for data that move faster than disease, to prevent rather than react. To move past this pandemic, we must resolutely face these challenges head on and fully embrace the innovations, the new partnerships, and the resilience of our communities that have emerged from this crisis. It is the only way we can turn tragedy and sorrow into lasting progress and improved health for all.

In one year, we have lost over 520,000 Americans to COVID-19. These are grandparents, parents, and children. They are siblings, friends, and neighbors. They are our loved ones and our community. We join together to grieve these losses and intensify our efforts so they were not in vain. I thank you for your perseverance and for your unity of mission. Together, our strength and hope will guide us to the end of this pandemic.

Utah COVID-19 Response

In Utah, the COVID-19 response began early. By mid-March, Governor Herbert had already created the COVID-19 Community Task Force to monitor the situation. That task force was led by then Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and included members from the Utah Department of Health, Utah Department of Public Safety, Utah Division of Emergency Management and others. Governor Herbert declared a state of emergency on March 6, 2020.

As part of that initial response, the state launched Since March 2020, there have been over 49,000,000 hits to our website, amounting to approximately 9,000,000 unique visitors. The most visited page on the site is our case counts dashboard. The case counts dashboard represents the UDOH’s commitment to be transparent about the COVID-19 situation in Utah. The dashboard has grown over the past year to include demographic information, outbreak information and vaccine information.

Utah COVID-19 Response Storymap

A storymap outlining Utah’s COVID-19 response has been created. You can explore it here.