ANNAPOLIS, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - It’s been one year since the first confirmed coronavirus case in the D.C. region. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared today as COVID-19 Day of Remembrance.
Looking back, much has changed in a year.
On this day last year, bars and restaurants were still operating at full capacity, businesses remained open and no one had any idea of what was to come.
A few weeks later, D.C., Maryland and Virginia put restrictions on and closed certain non-essential businesses, meant only to last for a few weeks. But weeks later, hospitals were overwhelmed treating patients.
Fast forward to today, no one leaves home without a mask, hospitals are still treating COVID patients and many businesses remain closed.
More than 500,000 people are dead in the U.S. from the novel virus, their futures taken away.
"She gave her life. She sacrificed her life. She was a hero," Zenobia Shepherd, the mother of one of the first COVID-19 victims in Maryland said.
Leilani Jordan, 27, was one of the first people to die from COVID in our region. She was a greeter at the Giant in Largo. Her mother says the family is still suffering from the unimaginable loss.
"Every time I think of another life lost, I know exactly how that person’s family is feeling. There’s a big hole in their heart," Shepherd said.
Jordan, who had cerebral palsy loved people. Shepherd said she insisted on still going into work even though PPE was hard to find at the time.
"There were no masks in the grocery store, there were no masks or gloves in the local CVS and Walgreens. We had nothing available," she remembers.
Jordan died at Walter Reed Hospital on April 1 with her mother by her side.
"She died in my arms, took her last breath her last heartbeat," Shepherd said.
Shepherd says her daughter’s death brought awareness to the risks grocery store employees and other workers were taking early on in the pandemic. Many protocols changed as a result of Jordan’s death.
As we get closer to a fully vaccinated population, Shepherd is warning, it’s not over yet.
"No mother should be walking behind a gurney with your child’s body going to the morgue. You don’t want them to be another number," she said.