GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On March 10, 2020, Michigan health leaders confirmed the state’s first two cases of COVID-19. Three years later, the chief medical executive is reflecting on the pandemic, what has been learned and where we stand today.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian was not in Michigan in March 2020, but rather in Singapore. While Michiganders were first dealing with the potential of contracting the virus, Bagdasarian had been working with patients for a month already.

Even having a head start would not prepare her or anyone for what was about to come.

“I don’t think that many people at the time realized that the pandemic would last as long as it did but also that COVID would be with us probably for the rest of our lives,” Bagdasarian said.

Since those first cases were reported, more than 40,000 Michiganders have been killed by the virus and more than 3 million have tested positive.

But after a series of variants and vaccines, Bagdasarian said she’s confident that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

“It is unlikely that COVID will ever feel like it did in the beginning of 2020 because we do have tools that are very effective, we do have therapeutics, we do know what works for transmission, we do have these tests,” she said.

While the past three years can’t be recovered, Bagdasarian is hopeful that some good can come out of what we learned from the pandemic.

“My hope is that we can come out from this stronger. My hope is that we can come out from this pandemic with a sense of: ‘We went through it, we learned from it and here are some things we can do better,'” she said. “I think that would really be the silver lining.”

Even though life seems to have returned largely to normal, Bagdasarian is still encouraging Michiganders to get vaccinated and boosted as well as to use precautions and guidelines from the pandemic if they feel sick, like staying home and wearing a mask if they leave their home.