SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU)–  May 11, 2023 was the last day of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency after starting three years ago.

It was on March 20, 2020 that Woodbury County experienced its first case of COVID-19.

“It was interesting because I just returned from a week of vacation the first of March. And at that point time it had just hit within the state of Iowa,” said Kevin Grieme, with Siouxland District Health Department.

As businesses shut down folks were told to avoid large gatherings.

Sioux City Mayor Pro-Tem Dan Moore remembers what it was like to work during the beginning of the pandemic.

“I remember walking to city council meetings from my office, masking up going into city hall and no ones there, and even some our council members participated remotely. And it was just very eerie, it was very eerie not to have people,” said Dan Moore, with the Sioux City mayor pro-tem.

In late January 2020, COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency by the federal government.

“In the beginning, it was so much about the contact on surfaces and that, and the length they projected it lived, the basically transmissibility, what’s the right length direction of social distancing. Then as it moved forward within the science we learned it wasn’t always necessarily the number of feet you were from someone, but many times it was the length of the time you spent with someone,” Grieme said.

Now, with better knowledge and the experience of living through a pandemic, health and city leaders said they are better prepared for the future.

“I think we have the structure in place, the infrastructure if we have something similar that we’re facing. I think we have the infrastructure in place to do a really good job of setting up and moving forward,” Moore said.

“This is the first time we had gone into for example the online appointment scheduling. It wasn’t the smoothest in the beginning, but we were getting people in for appointments. Well, we now have the expertise and ability to be able to continue that with many of our services,” Grieme said.

According to Siouxland District Health Department, 67% of residents in Woodbury County have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.