MIDLAND, Texas — 365 days ago, Midland and Odessa hospitals were gathering information about a virus from Wuhan, China.
It had made its way to New York and there was worry it would make its way to West Texas.
At the time, preparing seemed like a precaution for the CEOs, not a necessity.
"It was one year ago today that Medical Center hosted our first COVID meeting with the entire community, the city, the county, the schools,” Russell Tippin, Medical Center Hospital CEO, said.
For Russell Meyers, the CEO of Midland Memorial hospital, a global pandemic was something he was trained on in the early years of his career.
“Thinking at the time this is all imaginary, this isn’t going to actually happen," Meyers said. "This is scientist thinking about the worst thing that could actually happen...and here we are and it actually has happened...it's hard to believe.”
A lot has happened this past year, mass testing sites, mobile morgues, and busloads of FEMA nurses.
"We went from zero patients, not having any idea what COVID was to 120," Tippin said. "We were all at the point where we had more COVID patients than regular patients.”
Then just before the holidays, a vile of hope arrives.
"It was a ray of hope and sunshine because it was pretty dark at the time," Tippin said. "How appropriate that something like that shows up at Christmas time.”
For Meyers, the vaccine was a gift. A gift that did not go without challenge.
“We had to make up as we went along how we were going to get the vaccine out and it's been a real triumph," Meyers said. "I’m really proud of the work our people did.”
Combine the vaccine, with social distancing and mask-wearing and now the community is seeing a record low amount of COVID cases and hospitalizations, nearly in the single digits.
But the news comes with great cautious optimism.
“We’re ready for it to be over, I think everybody is," Meyers said. "We really are in the home stretch."
Meyers believes we could be back to normal before 2022.
"But it’s not today," Meyers said. "The challenge now so we can reach that mark is to stay the course and normal life is hopefully around the corner.”
According to U.S. Center for Disease Control if vaccine distribution keeps up at this rate, about 75% U.S. population could be vaccinated by October.
The World Health Organization states herd immunity happens when 60-70% of the population’s immune.
So vaccinations would guarantee herd immunity in the U.S. by this fall.