(WDVM) — As the world entered 2020, the new year brought with it the promise of so much more.

It was a new decade; what many hoped would be the second “Roaring 20s.” However, on the other side of the world in Wuhan, China, dozens of people were being treated for pneumonia with an unknown cause. The cause of the pneumonia is what we now know as COVID-19.

The year that began with excitement turned to anticipation of the inevitable: the virus making its way to our communities. It also became a year of making unthinkable decisions as the virus did continue to spread. Governor Larry Hogan said, “It was the worst year many of us have been through, including those of us in state government, myself included.”

On January 28, 2020, America started moving through uncharted territory. That day, Alex Azar, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, said during a press conference, “The CDC has reported five cases of the novel coronavirus here in the United States.”

From that point on, leaders in the D.M.V. started discussing the virus and making plans. Governor Hogan explained, “We were really watching this for more than a month before we got our first case, really preparing plans for what might happen and what we might have to be faced with.”

“Early February, we had all the nation’s governors in Washington for a conference where we brought in Dr. Robert Redfield, Dr. Fauci, and Francis Collins, the head of N.I.S., to address the governors about what was this novel coronavirus,” Governor Hogan said. While some leaders were keeping a close eye on the spread and the news media began reporting on it, most Americans went through the first two months of the year like things were normal.

As local and state leaders were briefed, federal officials kept hope alive for America. In a February 19, 2020, interview with NewsNation’s Joe Khalil, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “Far more people recover or are a-symptomatic than actually get into trouble.” The sentiments were echoed by President Donald Trump, who said during a March 13, 2020, press conference, “This will pass. This will pass through and we’re going to be even stronger for it.”

Even leaders who took swift action to prevent the spread of the virus over the course of the year admit that they too were optimistic that it would be a blip on the radar. District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, in a March 2021 press conference, said, “I thought it was going to be over by the summer. I didn’t think that we would go into fall and winter, but we did. This virus has been hard. Dealing with something and fighting something for a year is also hard.”

The virus seeped its way into multiple states, and by the first week of March, there were confirmed cases in each state in the D.M.V.

In the District of Columbia, the first case was confirmed on March 7. Maryland’s first three confirmed cases came on March 5, and all in Montgomery County. Virginia’s first case was confirmed on March 7. By March 10, cases were confirmed in Fairfax, Arlington, Spotsylvania and Loudoun County. Dr. Norman Oliver, Virginia State Health Commissioner, said, “Pretty soon into that March period, we were giving daily reports to the governor about what was going on with the spread of the disease.”

As numbers began to rise and the spread continued, Governors and Mayors had important, hard decisions to make. Governor Hogan explained, “This was a decision about how to keep people safe, how to keep people alive. This meant we had to close things and keep people home for a period of time. Keep people out of school. It was very difficult. These were the decisions governors across America were faced with.”

In Virginia, schools began closing and transitioning online in the second week of March. The Governor also issued a state of emergency and canceled out-of-state travel. In the last week of the month, gatherings were banned and a stay at home order was issued.

A state of emergency was issued in Maryland during the first week of March, with crowd restrictions and out-of-state travel cancellations coming in the second week. During the third week of the month, schools and many public places were closed, and the state saw its first death related to the virus.

In the last week, non-essential businesses were ordered to close and a stay-at-home order was issued. Governor Hogan said, “The whole series of decisions about adding 6,000 additional hospital beds, opening up field hospitals, masking and distancing and limiting capacities and we made hundreds of decisions in a really short period of time based on the best advice we can get.”

The District of Columbia had a similar timeline to Maryland. With the first case coming in the first week of March, Mayor Bowser declared a public health emergency and began limiting crowds in the second week. The third week of the month, indoor dining was closed and the District saw its first death related to the virus.

To end March, non-essential businesses were closed and a stay-at-home order was issued. Mayor Bowser said, “(The priority was) how do we blunt this curve so our hospitals can be prepared for people who get sick and how can we stop so many people from getting sick.”

While those decisions in each state ultimately kept the transmission and death rates down, officials say a lack of federal direction hindered the initial progress. Dr. Oliver explained, “I think one of the real big challenges was a lack of real leadership and direction coming out of the White House. In that really hampered our ability to mount the kind of response to COVID-19 that we needed.”

“People did things differently. We weren’t all in sync. There were differences between people in different parties, different parts of the state and different regions. But the governors, when they had to, really did unite and speak with one voice,” Governor Hogan said.

Through stay at home orders, mask mandates, distancing requirements and more, America pushed through: eager for a day when living with COVID-19 is in the past.