After year of pandemic, people in the Triad share stories of struggle, hope

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Throughout the pandemic, people across the state and in the Triad have had to adapt to a new way of learning, working and lending a hand.

FOX8 spoke with people who were first touched by COVID-19 at the start.

Their stories are of struggles, a long recovery from the virus, job loss, and separation from loved ones.

While the stories of the pandemic aren’t over yet, these people told FOX8 they’re looking ahead to the next chapter.

“It’s horrible,” Robin Barber said.

On April 13, 2020, Barber went into the ICU at UNC Rockingham.

She was uncertain of her own future.

“That night when they rolled me in, and I’m going to tear up now telling it, I asked the doctor… I said is this where I’m going to die? They said not on our watch,” Barber said. “I was in the ICU for 19 days.”

She was the very first COVID-19 patient in the hospital.

Eleven months later, she’s only just beginning to breathe without extra oxygen.

“We don’t know how long [these effects] are going to last or if it’ll last a lifetime,” Barber said.

The lasting effects are something that Chris Terrell, and his daughter Anna Reese, are constantly concerned about.

“Ive had to use an inhaler sometimes, because I got a bad cough a couple of months after,” Anna Reese said.

The Greensboro native, and East Carolina University student, had the virus twice.

Once in January 2020 and then again, a few months later.

The Terrell family is now struggling with different pandemic-related problems.

For the college sophomore, the lack of face-to-face interaction in school is troublesome.

“With it being virtual, you really are teaching it to yourself,” she said. “It’s hard to adjust to that and I’m still struggling with it.”

But there’s also the obstacles in seeing each other.

“We’re just a little concerned that you don’t know if your children can be bringing [the virus] home,” Chris Terrell said.

That’s one reason why Tiffany Holcomb has decided to make this year a fresh start.

“You can’t see smiles, you can’t hug,” she said. “Not seeing family and friends and not being able to hug them has taken a toll on myself and my husband.”

Holcomb lost her job at Novant Health in May.

She still can’t find employment.

“I’ve had to rework my resume to a COVID world. I’ve applied for numerous jobs, but I kind of felt inside I need to venture out,” Holcomb said.

She’s hoping to start a new business: helping people cope with anxiety and depression through a holistic approach.

Holcomb said it starts with a simple lesson.

“Gratitude,” Holcomb said. “We’ve all kind of had this eye opener.”

It’s one that FOX8 crews heard numerous times on Wednesday from people who learned it the hard way.

“I’m really hoping to see my grandparents more because I haven’t been able to see them,” Terrell said.

“They always say don’t take life for granted, and I think more and more people now have finally realized, you just can’t do that,” Barber said.

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