Grim anniversary: It has been 1 year since COVID-19 first appeared in the United States

ATLANTA — Thursday marked the one-year anniversary that COVID-19 first appeared in the United States. Since then, more than 25 million cases of the virus have been confirmed across the country.

In Georgia, the Department of Public Health reported on Thursday there were more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the state since it first appeared in Georgia in March.

Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge talked to one of those people Thursday who contracted the virus last month as well as a metro doctor about why she believes it’s important to learn from the lessons over the past years.

Peggy Kent of Dawson County said some of her coronavirus symptoms included high fever, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches.

“It was the worse sickness I’ve had in my life,” Kent said.

The health care worker said it was a rough three weeks to get over the virus.

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“I do see how you can die from this. I felt at one point that I just might. Feeling that. Just feeling so sick,” Kent said.

It was Jan. 21, 2020, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first U.S.  coronavirus case of a man in Washington state.

Georgia had its highest daily death toll from the virus this month.

Sbarge asked the immediate past president of the American Medical Association, Dr. Patrice Harris, what she’s learned a year into the pandemic.

“Here are my big takeaways: Go big and go bold at the beginning of a pandemic. The second takeaway — we have to follow the science and the evidence, and we really have to make sure that politics doesn’t interfere,” Harris said.

She told Sbarge that the science shows masks work.

“I know everyone is fatigued, but we just need folks to wear masks and do what we know works just a little while longer,” Harris said.

“It’s a horrible, horrible virus,” Kent said.

Kent said it’s important to isolate yourself as soon as you suspect or know you have the virus. She said she did that, and it protected other family members.

During a news conference on Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp said we’re starting to see the seven-day average level off across the state, but he still urged Georgians to take precautions to help fight against the virus.