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The faces—and stories—from six months of COVID-19 in East Tennessee

From COVID-19's first victims to stories of recovery and hope, here's a glimpse of the virus in our community.

TENNESSEE, USA — "When it hits, it's a totally different ballgame." 

That's how one East Tennessean described his experience suffering with the coronavirus. In many ways, those words describe all our lives these past six months. 

We knew it was coming. But when the virus arrived in East Tennessee in mid-March this year, our lives became a whole different ballgame. 

Six months in, as our community continues its fight against COVID-19, we want to pause to remember the stories of the past half-year. 

In many cases, they're stories of sorrow: the virus, after all, is a cruel enemy without care for love or loss. 

But there are many, many stories of hope. Survivors share words of encouragement and recovery and doctors share details of new research and glimpses of cures, vaccines and life beyond quarantine. 

We know the past six months have not been easy. We know the next six months aren't likely to be easy either. But we promise to continue sharing stories of survival, recovery and hope—all Straight from the Heart. 

Recovered coronavirus patients are now offering words of hope

Recovering from the coronavirus is a feat, and being on the other side of the virus is giving patients a new perspective. They share it here.

'I am making a difference' | UT nursing grad heads to front lines amid pandemic

Seeing the community's support for her profession has meant the world and will use it as a reminder to push through even the hardest days. Her story.

Blount County man recovers from coronavirus, plans to donate plasma to help other patients

A Blount County man who recovered from COVID-19 is now planning to donate his plasma to help coronavirus patients in the future. His story.

'We didn't take it seriously enough' | Monroe Co. mother shares son's COVID-19 recovery, urges others to stay home

It all started March 13 when she said he had a bad fever. After that, there were good days and bad days -- but he has recovered and is back to normal.

'We love you' | East Tennessee rallies around health care workers fighting COVID-19

People from all over East Tennessee filled Park West Medical Center's parking lot with one message. "We see you, we love you and we support you."

'It's been too long' | Sevier County church holds first in-person service in nearly six months

Members of Kodak United Methodist Church gathered in the parking lot with lawn chairs and masks to worship in-person for the first time in nearly half a year. Here's how it went.

Sevier County father must choose between returning to work or stay by daughter's side at hospital

"Once you're in it's for the duration. You can't leave and come back, you can't go off the premises. You can't leave to get something from the market next door." The story.

"Discomfort is nothing compared to a loved one's life" | Family of COVID-19 victim asks others to do their part

Clarence Jackson Ballew died from COVID-19 in April. Three months later, he finally received his full military honors.

Knoxville native cares for the sickest coronavirus patients to save lives in New York City

Courtney hasn’t been home to hug her family or her fiancé in months. She said COVID-19 has been all consuming, confining and eye opening. Read her story.

Morristown Police chaplain dies after being diagnosed with coronavirus

Chaplain Don Crider, whose call sign was Chaplain 5, had been hospitalized and fighting for his life before he died in April. His family and friends share their memories here.

"I'm already missing them" | Anderson County mother decides to distance herself from family, protecting them from COVID-19

She is on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 working as a respirator therapist at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

Life on the Inside: Nursing home residents share snapshots of life in lockdown

With disposable cameras, two women living in a local nursing home capture what life is like in isolation during COVID-19. Their story and more photos here.

'It is miserable' | Oak Ridge family infected by COVID-19 urges mask usage

An Oak Ridge woman is urging people to wear masks in public after COVID-19 infected her son, her husband, her father, and herself despite taking full precautions. Read their story here.

Greeneville doctor recovers from 6-week battle with COVID-19

Dr. Daniel Lewis is chief medical officer at Greeneville Community Hospital. He was also one of the first COVID-19 cases in Greene County.

'It's a rough time' | Kentucky couple still battling COVID-19 symptoms weeks after diagnosis

For three days and three nights, Scott fought for his life inside UT Medical Center. Now, he's working to regain his strength.

"It was pretty scary" | 27-year-old hospitalized with COVID-19 in Hamblen County

Robert Livingston, his pregnant wife and his 8-month-old daughter all tested positive for COVID-19 in July. Read their story here.

'I have hope' | East Tennessee mom uneasy as family's cruise waits to dock

Ginger Pettit said her daughter and her parents left on a cruise a month ago. Once COVID-19 became a pandemic they attempted to dock but couldn't.