ROCKFORD (WREX) — More than 28,000 people in Winnebago County have had COVID-19. But it was just one year ago, on March 15, 2020 that the county saw its first case of the virus.
"We knew it was coming and now it is here," said Mayor McNamara at a news conference on March 15, 2020.
The person with COVID was a man in his 60s, and he hadn't traveled outside of the area, which meant he contracted the virus locally. Area leaders called a news conference to alert the public and make a plea for safety.
"We really need everyone to stay put as much as possible," said Dr. Sandra Martell at the news conference.
Social distancing was already something doctors across our area were promoting, but a statewide stay at home order was weeks away and mask wearing was not yet common practice.
The same day as Winnebago County's first diagnosed case, Gov. JB Pritzker announced all bars and restaurants across the state would close indoor service from March 16-30. The order prompted an emergency meeting between some small business owners in Rockford.
"Most of us are trying to figure out some way to deal with the fact that we aren't going to be covered for that," Emily Hurd, owner of the Norwegian restaurant, said at the time.
While many didn't know what the future would hold for any of us, one thing was clear on March 15, 2020; the county's first case would not be its last.
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