MAINE, USA — Three years ago this weekend, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. At that time, Maine was the only New England state that hadn't had a positive test yet.
"There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease in Maine," Dr. Nirav Shah, former director of the Maine CDC told reporters on March 12, 2020.
The very next day, Maine recorded its first case of the virus.
"The individual who tested positive, presumptive positive, is a woman in her 50s who lives in Androscoggin County," Gov. Janet Mills, D-Maine, said in a press conference.
It's been three years since many of us were sent home from work or school for what we thought would be just two weeks, to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19. At first, it was a suggestion, but then cases began to spike.
"It is a quarantine order. It is unless you are to go out to do something absolutely essential to live, i.e. go to the grocery store, you are to stay inside," Shah said in one of his daily press briefings in March 2020.
Many of us stayed home and masked up for the better part of two years, with the hope of keeping our neighbors safe and healthy. During that time, we saw something special.
Mainers helped Mainers and stepped up to make masks for healthcare workers, and donated food and money for those in need.
After about nine months of the pandemic, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
"The big item of discussion today is not testing, it's not the number of new cases, it is the arrival of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine here in Maine," Shah said in December 2020.
Vaccines then became available for Mainers.
And just about three years later, the face of the pandemic, Dr. Shah, moved on to a new position with the U.S. CDC.
But not before looking back on the pandemic with NEWS CENTER Maine's Don Carrigan.
"How prepared were you personally for dealing with a pandemic?" Carrigan asked Shah.
"On a scale from one to 10, probably a zero. There's nothing that prepares you for a pandemic," Shah responded.
It's fair to say, none of us were prepared for the pandemic, either. But we're thankful to be on the other side of the mountain now.
On Friday, the House voted unanimously to investigate the origin of COVID-19, including Maine Congressman Jared Golden and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.
President Joe Biden told reporters he "hasn't made his decision" on whether or not he would sign the bill.
For the latest breaking news, weather, and traffic alerts, download the NEWS CENTER Maine mobile app.
More NEWS CENTER Maine stories