As the coronavirus spread across the world, one year ago on March 8, 2020, the state announced the first Connecticut resident had tested positive for COVID-19 and was being treated in Danbury.
“It's been a long, hard period of time,” said Dr. Jeffrey Nicastro, the Chief Medical Officer for Nuvance Health which includes Danbury Hospital.
He has led their clinical response to the pandemic.
“I don't think that anybody could really have been mentally, emotionally, or even physically prepared for this. It's an unprecedented event,” said Dr. Nicastro.
The first patient we later learned was a Wilton man named Chris Tillett.
Recently, the 45-year-old spoke exclusively to NBC Connecticut’s Heidi Voight about how he found the strength to fight with some help from a nurse.
“She printed photos of my boys and put them on the ICU wall. So I, when I woke up, I saw my boys. And that was really cool,” said Tillett.
Days before his diagnosis was confirmed, Governor Ned Lamont revealed a woman who worked at two Connecticut hospitals was in quarantine at her home in New York after coming down with the virus.
"This is not unexpected. We've been prepared for this," Lamont said at the time.
Since those early days of the crisis, 7,725 people across the state so far have passed away.
There’s been more than a quarter million cases and thousands of hospitalizations.
“Many people died as a result of this disease, but many, many more had it and recovered and that's a great triumph,” said Dr. Nicastro.
Dr. Nicastro said while medical staff have gotten better at treating COVID-19, he credits mask wearing, social distancing and washing hands with helping to get the pandemic under control.
Though it’s not over yet, even with the arrival of vaccines.
“We are cautiously optimistic that we've gotten through the worst of it. And maybe in the not too distant future, we can look back on this as something that is now part of the history of medicine in our country,” said Dr. Nicastro.
The doctor said as tragic as this has been, it’s also been rewarding seeing how resilient communities are and points out medical staff have learned a lot including how to manage a major pandemic.