LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This weekend marks one year since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in both Kentucky and Indiana.
"Yes, we have been through a lot together and we're going to get out of this together and we're pointed in that direction," Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said during his weekly briefing Wednesday.
As Saturday approaches, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman will hold a virtual COVID-19 memorial to mark the one year since the first positive case in Kentucky, and honor the Kentuckians who have lost their lives.
“While this has been a difficult year, I know we will defeat COVID in 2021 and we have more hope every day with these effective vaccines, our case numbers dropping for almost two straight months and Kentuckians continuing to follow the guidance from public health officials to slow the spread," Beshear said in a news release Thursday.
Over the past year, Kentuckiana has seen changes in COVID-19 safety guidance, people have learned the term "social distancing," schools have moved to virtual instruction and are now transitioning back to the classroom, and masks have become part of everyday life.
"There will be aspects of our society that we haven't even considered that are going to be changed by what we've all gone through," said Dr. Jason Smith, chief medical officer at UofL Health.
Smith said some things that have changed over the last 12 months are likely to continue.
"Teleconferencing has gone to a completely new level in the past year. I don't think that's ever going to go away," he said.
Since Kentuckiana saw its first cases last March, testing has expanded and become more widely available.
Smith said when the pandemic first became reality, he thought it would take about two years to get a vaccine on the market. But already, Kentuckians and Hoosiers who are eligible are receiving vaccines.
"It's a miracle," he said. "It's nothing short of a modern medical miracle that we have this.
"If you think about it, this is going to go down as one of these moments in history around the world. People are going to talk about this 50, 100, 150 years from now, talking about this pandemic and what was good and bad about it and how it changed our lives, our cultures, our communities.
"This is going to be one of those turning point events across the world and you're going to mark time before and after this COVID pandemic and what has happened and how we've kind of done this."
Smith said it's still unclear how long immunity will last from these vaccines, but he does encourage those who are eligible to get one.
"I will tell you this is probably going to become something of a seasonal illness," he said. "The virus is much too wide spread to ever go away. This is not going to be like smallpox or polio where it's completely kind of eradicated."
Kentucky has lost more than 4,700 people to the virus, and Indiana has lost more than 12,200.
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