HOUSTON - A year ago Thursday the first case of coronavirus COVID-19 was identified in Texas—the beginning of a pandemic that upended the lives of millions in the Lone Star State.
Texas’s first COVID-19 case on March 4, 2020 went out as a call to dispatchers of a man struggling to breathe, according to the Stafford Fire Chief. His firefighters and EMS brought the 70-year-old man to the hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19.
"It wasn’t his fault, right?" said a neighbor who lives near the man. "Me and my little car right there have been staying home mostly."
Millions have opted to stay home since that first case in which the man and his travel partners had just returned from a trip to Egypt. More people on that trip tested positive for COVID-19 later that week, including a couple in northwest Harris County who got their results the next day.
Houston Health Department’s Dr. David Persse is reflecting on the week his job was kicked into high gear.
"The Egyptian River cruise case first started with someone in Fort Bend County, but then here in Houston when we had the situation with the gentleman at the Houston Rodeo when we realized that we had community spread," said Persse. "We‘ve lost a lot of lives. We’ve had a lot of people be really really sick. We’ve had a lot of families be really scared. And this has become politicized, which a year ago I did not predict that it would become politicized the way that it has. I’m very disappointed that that’s happened. It’s greatly complicated things, and it’s not over, so we’re still fighting the fight here."
He says health officials have learned a lot through it all.
"We’ve learned that the public can be led by bad information," said Persse. "That can happen to a greater extent than I had predicted. We’ve learned this virus in particular will break all the rules that viruses usually follow."
He said the worst point in the whole pandemic was somewhat of a tie between July and December when cases peaked.
He believes we are not at all out of the woods with this virus.