Washington confirmed the country’s first COVID patient 2 years ago. What have we learned?

Infectious diseases were all Everett physician Dr. George Diaz had ever wanted to study.

The specialized area of medicine is demanding, he said, but after more than 15 years in the field, the Providence Regional Medical Center doctor can’t imagine doing anything else.

“I feel like this is what I was supposed to do in my life,” he said in an interview Thursday.

A renewed appreciation for his years of training became apparent almost exactly two years ago, when Diaz received a call that confirmed a Snohomish County man in his 30s had tested positive for the mysterious new virus that had emerged from Wuhan, China.

Before he knew it, Diaz had become the doctor in charge of treatment for the first COVID-19 patient in the United States.

Fortunately, hospital staffers said at the time, Providence teams had practiced receiving an Ebola patient weeks before, and isolation procedures were fresh in their minds. When Diaz received the call about the COVID patient, he had also just returned from an infectious diseases conference.

“It was like doing a fire drill, and then having a fire,” he said.

Friday, January 21, 2022 - 11:14am