Reflection: One year ago today, COVID-19 was confirmed in NC –


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By Bryan Mims, WRAL reporterMarch 3, 2020: A significant day in North Carolina.

It’s the day we learned of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in our state, and the day life changed forever.

Since then, we’ve seen more than 865,000 positive tests, and more than 11,000 people in our state have died from the virus.

Strange words suddenly became part of our daily lexicon: Social distancing. Flatten the curve.

We donned masks for daily tasks. Many stopped hugging family members who didn’t live in the same household.

Soon, schools and church sanctuaries emptied out – as did our sidewalks, restaurants and streets. A certain solitude set in. And sadness.

Because before March 2020 was over, people in our state would be dying.

Among the first North Carolinians the virus claimed was a Raleigh city employee, a man in his mid-30s named Adrian Grubbs.

“All this happened so fast,” his wife told us then. “A loving husband, a devoted father.”

North Carolina’s first COVID case was in Wake County

The first case in North Carolina was a man who lives in Wake County

At home that night, pastor Wolfgang Herz-Lane of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cary watched the news.

Our state’s patient zero was among his flock.

“I get a phone call from my member saying, ‘well, the guy they’re talking about on the news — that’s me,'” said Herz-Lane.

“Of course we talked about it a little bit, and we prayed together,” he said.

He says some aspects of life will never return to normal again.

“I’m convinced that this pandemic has changed things for good,” he said.

And here we are a year later: Our faces still masked, a pastor’s pews still empty.

His services are still virtual.

“Since that first day, we had to pivot overnight and stopped in-person worship services,” he said.

Pastor Wolfgang, as he’s known, hopes to bring back in-person services in a few months, but the the streaming will stay.

He believes the pandemic has brought people together.

“In a spiritual sense and a community sense, we really did draw closer together, and we stayed in closer contact through Zoom meetings and through the live stream worship,” he said.

The man he prayed over on the phone one year ago fully recovered. He wishes to remain anonymous.

Now, as another spring begins, a pastor sees a season of good news.

He got his COVID vaccination a few weeks ago.

What will this year hold?

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