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El Paso leaders, survivors reflect on third anniversary of COVID pandemic

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Three years after the first confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, El Pasoans are reflecting on the solemn anniversary.

On March 13, 2020, the first confirmed case of the coronavirus was reported. In the days after, the number of positive cases continued to climb and hospitalizations soared.

El Paso leaders were forced to shut down the city to help control the spread of the virus.

Hospitals became overwhelmed and businesses were forced to close their doors. Borderland students had to take their classes remotely.

Lucy Lopez, a COVID-19 survivor, became emotional when asked about the anniversary.

She and her late husband were among the first positive cases confirmed in the city.

Lopez said she experienced many different symptoms including shortness of breath, coughing and chest pains.

She was admitted to the hospital three different times, but was released and would recover at home.

At the same time, her husband was also fighting the virus in the hospital.

She said it was difficult not having any answers.

"Nobody knew, not even the doctors themselves. Our family doctor told me straight up, 'We don't know anything. We are learning and we will guide you as best'" she said.

She said her road to recovery was difficult, but her husband succumbed to the virus.

"He said, "Lucy, always remember that you did your best, you took care of me. Don't forget that. You tried your best.'"

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego also weighed in on the anniversary of the pandemic.

He said at some point, it all felt like it would last forever.

"There was a time when we really thought that we were never going to get out of it. And that the situation was going to be forever and as time passed there was more anxiety," the judge said.

Judge Samaniego told ABC-7, he was trying to balance many different things at once.

 "My mandates were balanced between a business closing down or a healthcare system completely collapsing," he said.

Dr. Ogechika Alozie said during the pandemic it was all about managing people and helping manage their fears.

He said most El Pasoans were worried about contracting the virus, but he said it was essential for him to keep his patients calm even despite him not having all the answers.

Dr. Alozie told ABC-7, he now treats COVID like any other virus.

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Rosemary Montañez

ABC-7 reporter and weekend anchor


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