SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - It was one month ago when a veteran living in the New Orleans area became the first reported case of Coronavirus in Louisiana.
From day one, as the number of patients began to rise, so did the number of people rising to the occasion to help others, along with comeback stories, giving us hope that one day soon this pandemic will be over.
“That was pretty cool,” recalls Willis Knighton registered nurse Leigh White on how it felt to be wheeled out in front of dozens of cheering co-workers. “I cried all the way out."
Leigh spent 21 days in the hospital, many of those on a ventilator, after his diagnosis with COVID-19.
“It was scary being on the ventilator, a couple of times thinking I was going to die,” shares Leigh, whose husband has also been diagnosed with COVID-19, but was never hospitalized.
“It is a story of faith,” explains Shawn, her husband.
“I’ve never had to rely on God as much as I had to this time. If I didn’t have my church and community around me, we wouldn’t have been able to get through this,” he adds.
Fortunately for the Whites, none of their children have shown any symptoms.
This virus outbreak left a Benton youngster mildly disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to invite friends over for her 7th birthday party.
“Because of Coronavirus, it makes people sick,” explains Huntlee Stevens who was prepared to share birthday cupcakes with her dad, stepmother, and brother.
But she was suddenly hit with the surprise of her young life.
“I was playing outside, and I heard the sirens,” smiles Huntlee, recalling the moment two Benton police officers pulled up and began singing ‘Happy Birthday’ over the public address system.
“It made me very happy,” says Huntlee about her birthday surprised, which was topped off by a quick visit by the fire department.
“I think they delivered,” says stepmom Brandy.
“We are very thankful for them.”
Just a few miles from Huntlee’s home sits Benton Middle School, which is still under repair from January’s tornadic storm that ripped the roof off the 6th-grade wing of the campus.
“I greatly miss seeing all of them,” says teacher Tiffany Salley, whose classroom was one of six ruined by the rain and winds clocked at over 100 miles per hour.
That storm damage, and now the virus shutting down the school, is a one-two punch Tiffany says she could have never imagined.
“If you would have told me several years ago we’d be faced with the challenges this year has brought — I never would have thought that was possible.”
As for what she told her kids the last time she talked to them online during virtual lessons, “I’ve always told them, even through the flood, we can’t help what happens. But we can help how we react. And our reactions are what we can control."
Construction on the school continues. There’s no exact timetable when the work will be completed, nor when students could return to school due to the ongoing pandemic.