First responders gather for COVID-19 remembrance event two years after the Roanoke Valley’s first case

More than 900 people in the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts lost their lives due to COVID-19

ROANOKE, Va. – “COVID-19 has hurt our hearts and our minds in unimaginable loss,” said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the Director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.

Two years after the first case of COVID-19 was identified in our area, the RCAHD hosted a remembrance event at the Berglund Center in Roanoke to honor those who have died and to thank others for their bravery during the ongoing pandemic.

“It’s been a very long two years. It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced in my career as a healthcare worker,” said Russell Beggarly, a Carilion Clinic ICU Unit Director.

Local first responders collectively acknowledged the challenges of the past two years.

“Definitely with this last surge, it wore staff out. Just the amount of patients that came in, and staff, of course, were getting sick as well, so managing through that was very difficult,” added Hope Getyina, the Director of Critical Care at LewisGale Medical Center.

There were hundreds of empty chairs that represented the more than 900 people in the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts who lost their lives due to COVID-19.

“The sadness and the grief of going through something like this, for our families, for our community, for my team, it’s been very difficult,” said Beggarly.

While COVID cases are dropping, those on the front lines want the community to know we’re not out of the woods yet.

“COVID-19 is not over. We’re still treating people in the hospital,” he added.

“We of course encourage the vaccine. We have seen statistically speaking, it is very impactful,” expressed Getyina.

After such an isolating time, a moment for those who tackled the pandemic head-on to stand united.

About the Author

Alyssa Rae grew up in Roanoke and graduated from Virginia Tech. An avid sports fan, she spent her first 8 years in TV as a sports anchor and reporter.

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