Hall Co. residents voice opinion on pandemic one year later

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist
Posted 3:00PM on Tuesday 16th March 2021 ( 1 year ago )

Today marks one year since the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hall County.

The two cases were confirmed in patients at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, sending the hospital system, and the community with it, into lockdown mode in an attempt to contain the virus.

In the year since the beginning of the pandemic, Hall County residents appear to have adapted to the ongoing crisis. Still, that does not mean that their lives have not been altered in some form.

Denise Jauch, who works at a local hospital, described homeschooling her kids when many local school systems switched to virtual learning in place of face-to-face instruction.

"It was just very hard having kids home every day trying to do schoolwork and asking me questions," she said. "Like [I'm supposed to] be the teacher."

Sydney Hencil, a student at Brenau University, said that she has also been forced to adapt her education to a virtual format.

"I'm spending a lot more time in front of my computer and my phone, which I am not a fan of because I wear glasses sometimes and it can put a strain on me," Hencil said. "But you know, we gotta do what we gotta do."

Many Hall County residents also seem to be more lax in their approach to wearing a mask. Flowery Branch resident Gary Walderich said that wearing a mask should be a person's choice, not a mandate.

"I don't wear a mask unless I'm asked to," said Walderich. "If you don't want to wear a mask, I think that's fine. I think if you feel that you're more vulnerable to the coronavirus and you feel like you need to wear a mask, then wear a mask."

Three versions of a coronavirus vaccine have been released to the public: versions from the Pfizer and Moderna companies require two shots for full effectiveness, while a third version from Johnson and Johnson requires only one.

In Georgia, allocated vaccines from the federal government have been released to the public in stages. The first couple of stages limited availability to the elderly and medically fragile. As of yesterday, adults 55-years-old and older are eligible for a vaccine, as well as individuals with disabilities through an injury and certain medical conditions.

The District 2 Department of Public Health, whose jurisdiction includes Hall County, announced this week that healthcare workers have vaccinated 100,000 community members. Dave Palmer, spokesman for District 2 Public Health, said that workers were excited to reach the milestone.

"It was a proud moment for us, to think that we have given that many vaccines in a short period of time," said Palmer. 

Reaction to the vaccine has been mixed. While some in Hall County are relieved for its arrival, others are catiously optimistic. 

Hall County resident Will Kimbell said that he has already gotten the vaccine and encourages others to consider it.

"I kind of represent my household because my wife is pregnant and she can't get the vaccine yet...I think it's a really good thing to get it if you can and when you can," said Kimbell.

Along with the arrival of the vaccine, data from the Northeast Georgia Health System shows perhaps a glimmer of hope that the pandemic is easing up. As of today, a total of 39 COVID-positive patients are hospitalized within the system's four hospital systems and long-term care facilities. This amount is the lowest number of COVID-positive patients within the health system since it first began publically releasing data in April 2020.

To hear more thoughts from Hall County residents on the COVID-19 pandemic, click on the video above.




In this March 12 photo, community members gather for the first Food Truck Friday at Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville. This event was one of the first to show a potential return to normal following lockdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic.

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