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Winnebago County marks one year since first COVID-19 case

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Winnebago County - 1 Year of COVID-19 1

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.

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"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.

RELATED: WCHD: Despite slow rollout, everyone eligible in Phase 1B encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccine

"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.

Coronavirus Resources

  • Click here for the latest CDC novel coronavirus resources and links.
  • Track the COVID-19 globally using this map tracker here.
  • Click here for the latest information from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Need to get tested? Here's a list of mobile testing sites provided by the state.
  • Looking for more information on the COVID-19 vaccine? Click here.
  • You can get the latest coverage from 13 WREX here.

Kristin Crowley

Evening News Anchor
Kristin Crowley anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news. She is also a reporter for 13 Investigates. She brings more than a decade of experience to the newsroom. Her work at WREX has earned her multiple awards including a regional Edward R. Murrow for Investigative Journalism and three regional Emmys.

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