• 72°

Sunday Focus: Residents answer question ‘When did COVID-19 become serious? ‘

NATCHEZ — Some two months into the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, most people realize the COVID-19 virus is serious.

Earlier in the year, however, as news first began to emerge about the new coronavirus in China, it took a while before most people realized the virus could be a serious problem for the United States.

We asked people in the Miss-Lou when they first realized the COVID-19 pandemic was a serious situation.

DarNesha Stancel, a certified nursing assistant at Glenburney Health Care and Rehabilitation in Natchez, said she began to realize the virus was serious when Kejuane Bates of Vidalia died on April 1 of COVID-19.

“When Bates passed away, it brought everyone out to see him and know that COVID-19 was real,” Stancel said. “Coronavirus is real.”

Macy Wiley said she has been looking for a job ever since the pandemic started and she first realized that COVID-19 was a serious issue when her children were given another week off from school after their spring break. Both of Wiley’s children attend Natchez-Adams School District schools.

“I realized it was going to be an issue the first weekend I heard about it,” Wiley said. “But I didn’t think it was going to be as big as a deal as it turned out to be.”

Shondricca Jordan, a retail worker at Belk in the Natchez Mall, remembers when realized the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I realized COVID-19 was going to be a real issue when they shut the NBA down,” Jordan said. “That was when it really became serious. Then, a lot of celebrities were sick and had contracted the virus.”

Kimberly Lyles, a pharmacist technician at Walmart in Natchez, said she realized the virus was serious when the stay-at-home orders and social distancing went into effect.

“Then, when we started seeing the statistics of everyone dying and seeing those who personally died as well, and when we started losing friends and family members is when we knew it was going to be serious,” Lyles said. “I had two cousins from Franklin County who passed.”

Carrie Myers, a dental hygienist at Miss-Lou Dentistry in Ferriday, said she realized COVID-19 was going to be a problem when she was at work on March 17.

“The doctors told us that the Mississippi State Board was going to shut everyone down,” Myers said. “They told us that we were going home for a little while.”

Robert Benson is a football coach and a teacher at Natchez High School.

“When the virus started, it did not really look like a real problem,” Benson said. “I think a lot of people got blessed from it. A lot of people got to spend more time with their families and do stuff in the yard. I think the virus is a blessing in disguise.”

Joshua Miller works for WT Drilling Company.

“When the virus started spreading across the U.S. and throughout New York so quickly, that’s when I realized it was going to be a problem,” Miller said.

Nickie Davis is a football coach and a teacher at Natchez High School.

“At first when the pandemic hit, I was downplaying it, and I didn’t know it was that serious as it was,” Davis said. “I was taking precautionary measures with staying outside and staying fit. I was doing the things they asked of us and not being selfish and thinking about others. To anyone that lost someone to COVID-19, we continue to keep you in prayers. We will continue to uplift each other and we will come back stronger than ever.”