RICHMOND, Va. -- It's been over two years since the first COVID-19 case was identified in Virginia.
Since then, the Commonwealth has seen multiple surges and waves as different variants have arrived. Over 1.6 million Virginians have been infected and over 19,000 have died.
"It's been a rough two years. Lots of people working very hard and feeling overworked and probably burned out and stressed out, but just happy to come out on this end of it," Cece, a woman from Rockville, said.
As of Tuesday, metrics such as percent positivity and hospitalizations are continuing to decline from record highs seen in January that were driven by the omicron variant.
Cece said that she and her family will mask up when businesses ask them to and are taking COVID changes one day at a time.
As for where the virus goes from here, there are researchers across the world trying to see what may be next. One of those is Bryan Lewis, who is a member of UVA's Biocomplexity Institute.
"I have spent a considerable number of hours and days fretting over this problem and chasing it," Lewis said.
He said that while he believes the worst is behind us, there could be some increases from time to time.
"But I expect that those growths will be short-lived and sort of come back down and won't be back at the rates even that we're at today," Lewis said.
Lewis said Virginia will be well-served by its vaccination rates and natural immunity. However, unknowns include just how widespread omicron was, natural immunity wearing off and a new variant.
"This virus has always sort of thrown, throwing something out, it's out of left field that we've not been able to fully anticipate," Lewis said.
Lewis said the CDC and VDH guidelines continue to be good ones to follow. One of his big takeaways from the past two years has been that science has really helped over the course of the virus.
"The process of learning, informing, communicating, revising and continuing to fight the virus, I think, you know, paid off. It's been a long two years," Lewis said.