NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Pandemic Anniversary

Collins Reflects on Past Year, Looks Ahead with Optimism

Dr. Collins, assistant fire chief Mike Gilroy and ORS director Colleen McGowan thank staff.
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (l) visits staff at the car-line testing site, which marked its first anniversary recently.

Photo:  Credit Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

On Mar. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Shortly after, all telework-eligible employees across the NIH began teleworking to the extent possible, schools transitioned to distance learning and large gatherings were discouraged. After the initial weeks of sheltering in place, the social isolation continued. Many have endured illness and loss. Today, more than 30 million people in the U.S. have contracted Covid-19, and the national Covid-19 death toll exceeds 540,000. 

“We can all agree that it has been a long and difficult year,” noted NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, in an all-staff email Mar. 12 observing the pandemic anniversary. “But there is encouraging news to report: Nationally, Covid-19 case numbers are gradually dropping, and with three highly effective Covid-19 vaccines in distribution, more people are being vaccinated every day.”

On Mar. 17, Collins marked the 1-year anniversary of NIH’s car-line Covid-19 testing operation by visiting the site and thanking employees on the frontlines there.

In his email message, Collins also acknowledged the many stressors and difficulties people continue to face and the importance of self-care. He ended with a note of gratitude and a nod to the air of resilience in the atmosphere.

“Most of all, NIH family, I want you to know how much your dedication matters,” Collins concluded. “You are one of the main reasons that I feel hopeful. We are going to get through this!”

This issue of the NIH Record focuses on the past year of working through a pandemic.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)