IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - A year ago this week, Iowans were realizing the full impact the novel coronavirus would have on their lives.
"We were feeling scared and nervous," Lindsey Reed said, a recreation therapist at Oaknoll Retirement Community in Iowa City.
At this time last year, Reed was searching for answers; how could she keep her residents safe? When would these seniors get to see their families again?
"The unknown of what's going to happen or how long it's going to last was really frightening to think about," Reed said.
Thousands of small business owners were also told to shut their doors overnight; as state officials knew about as much as the rest of us regarding the virus.
"We followed the lead of what other hair salons were doing," Lindsy Tadlock said, a co-owner at Nova Salon in Iowa City.
When Reed and Tadlock think back to how they felt a year ago this week and compare it to the way things look now, they say the progress is undeniable. And that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger.
"I think people are seeing the light of day with vaccines being administered," Tadlock said.
Iowa is doing above average in vaccinations for seniors; with 95% of people over 65 getting their first shot and 38% now fully vaccinated. Governor Reynolds also announced Wednesday that all Iowans will become eligible for the shots on April 5.
Along with the vaccines, public health officials here in Iowa say our knowledge base on the virus has grown substantially.
"A year ago when this first started, it was a novel virus. We had never seen it before," Heather Meador said, clinical branch manager for Linn County Public Health.
Experts now know how effective masks and social distancing are and doctors know how to position their COVID-19 patients to help with their breathing.
"We know what mitigation efforts work and what don't. So, we know what we need to do until we get that herd immunity from vaccinations," Meador said.
A decline in new case counts and test positivity rates in Johnson County led Reed and the Oaknoll staff to resume in-room visits in February. While they are still very aware of the virus' presence in the community, the say resuming visits has given them a much needed spark to persevere through the end of the pandemic.
"You can tell when a resident has a family member or a loved one there. You know, there's more smiling. They come out of their rooms a little bit more often to say hello and greet people. It just brings life back," Reed said.