1 year into COVID: What we wish we’d known

4 takeaways we wish we’d known from day 1

If you could go back a year, before the effects of the coronavirus pandemic swept into Michigan in March 2020, what would you tell yourself?

The first confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan were announced March 10, 2020.

READ: First 2 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Michigan: What we know, don’t know

In the last 365 days, Michigan has seen nearly 600,000 confirmed cases and 16,000 COVID-related deaths.

READ: 1 year into COVID, what would you go back and tell yourself? Here’s what you said

Researchers will still be studying coronavirus and how we responded to it for decades to come, but even now, it’s clear we overestimated our ability to control it and made some assumptions that turned out to be wrong.

From the start, health experts believed the SARS-CoV-2 virus would act similar to the previous coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS.

Experts estimate that about half of all COVID cases are spread by people who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic.

At first, masks were only recommended for those who were sick, but numerous studies have now shown that well-fitting fabric masks can effectively prevent spread if we all wear them. That could have made a massive difference in the early days of the pandemic.

Most expects expected COVID to subside as the we entered warmer weather, but instead there were summer surges in many parts of the country.

“I never would have predicted that we would have had as much transmission and serious disease, going straight through the year, as we had,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee Acting Chair. “I was thinking more in terms of what we see with flu, where, at least when the weather warms up, we get a decrease in the number of cases.”

Monto is a world-renown expert in infectious disease prevention and vaccine effectiveness. In 2018, he showed Local 4 his “Flu Lab” at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

He said SARS-CoV-2 is a “weird virus” that doesn’t act the way it was predicted and that might be the most important fact of all.

“Everybody who’s trying to predict what’s going to happen tomorrow with this virus has been wrong,” Monto said. “And to really throw caution to the wind, to open everything up all of a sudden, is not the way to go because you want to do it gradually, and see what the effects are.”

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.