(WTRF) — COVID-19 just hit what was once an unimaginable toll in the US. One-million people have died, and the magnitude of the family and friends affected by those deaths is far greater. 

“We have this very wonderful, very happy family, and we couldn’t get together for Thanksgiving like we used to,” local resident Barbie Namack says.

“All the theatres were shut down. Grocery stores at the time, we were only allowed one gallon of milk. It affected my area pretty well, pretty badly,” says local resident Paxtin Bobbidt.

As COVID-19 has gripped the world, it’s taken a lot from us. Our jobs, our celebrations, our trips, and even our loved ones. 

The US alone has lost one million from it. 

“So, hitting the 1 million-mark… it’s nothing to say, oh, we are there. It is devastating. Period.” says Howard Gamble.

What’s worse is if more people had been vaccinated, the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Administrator Howard Gamble says the death count would be much lower.

“So, if you’re properly vaccinated, you have a lower probability of going to the hospital. Therefore, ending up with serious health consequences that can lead to death.”

But why has the death count climbed to one million in two short years? 

Gamble says it’s not just because of a portion of the population refusing the vaccine. But there’s also a portion that can’t access the vaccine. 

Along with that, there’s also cardiovascular and obesity issues in the US have also gone up, which isn’t helping. 

But there’s a solution from stopping an already devasting pandemic from getting worse. 

Gamble says it comes down to you. 

“It’s not the medical community needs to do x, y, and z. I think, as individuals, as Americans, we have a moral to play: One, get vaccination. Two, if you’re sick, stay home.”

Gamble says the number of deaths have been declining recently. But if we aren’t careful, the numbers could still spike again. 

“So, that’s great news. they’re declining rapidly. But deaths are still occurring. To hit a million mark is nothing to celebrate. It was going to happen at some point. It’s just unfortunate it’s happening right now.”

Gamble reminds everyone vaccines are still being down by county health departments. He says if you are positive, ask your primary care doctor about treatment.