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RCAHD looks back on two years of fighting COVID-19

Nick Gilmore
Radio IQ
Volunteers, healthcare workers and emergency personnel have a moment of silence for area residents that have been lost to COVID-19. The empty seats behind them represent the more than 900 district residents who have died from complications related to the virus.

The Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District marked the two year anniversary of the first COVID-19 case there Tuesday.

Hundreds of chairs in remembrance of the district residents who died from COVID-19 were set up behind hospital workers, emergency personnel and volunteers.

District director Cynthia Morrow thanked them for their tireless service over the last two years and for helping the community get to where it is today.

Mary Lou Legg is with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps – a volunteer group established after 9/11 to be ready for the next emergency. She covers the health department’s near southwest region – which includes Roanoke, Lynchburg and parts of southside and the New River Valley.

Legg recalled the early days of the pandemic.

“And by the second week in March, we were helping manage call centers and for our unit itself, which is five health districts, we were helping do call centers in Roanoke and New River," Legg said. 

From there, volunteers worked on contact tracing, testing efforts and eventually the vaccination campaign.

“When people want to help, they will do almost anything," Legg explained. "And we had medical professionals who said, ‘I will do whatever you want; I’ll do traffic control. I just want to be here to help the mission.’ So knowing that actually we have that capacity in our community; people just stood right up.” 

Legg says her region’s branch of the VMRC had just under 300 volunteers in February 2020. That number is over 2,500 now.