It has been exactly one year since the province reported its first presumptive case of the "novel coronavirus."

On March 5, 2020, the first travel-related case was identified in Alberta; a woman in her 50s who had returned from a cruise ship off the coast of California.

Since that first presumptive case, the domino effects of the global health crisis continued. The province declared a public state of emergency and schools, playgrounds and businesses were forced to close.

I think it's safe to say that when we entered this unfamiliar territory one year ago, the majority of us didn't expect it to linger for a year. Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung says that the unknowns surrounding the pandemic have been one of the hardest parts.

"That's been part of the hardest thing about coronavirus has been just not knowing," says Genung. "The fear of the unknown of course and then the reaction to that fear. Everything over the past year has been -  change and adapt and react and close ... and well, I don't have to go through the list, we all lived it."

One year later, we are all continuing to live through it, and while this provincial anniversary may not be cause for celebration, Mayor Genung believes that we have gained a better understanding in 12 months and are therefore better equipped.

"We kind of understand what we're dealing with a little more," says Genung. "There's still a lot of unknowns with the virus but people generally know how to wear a mask, we know to wash our hands and keep our distance to try and breakdown the spread of the virus. Those things are commonplace now, whether you like it or not, so we're not having to adapt to that."

Mayor Genung says that it's not just our habits that have changed over the past 12 months, but says that there's also a noticeable shift in people's mindsets, and there’s a sense of optimism.

"Yesterday I was outside the RancheHouse chatting with a few of the 75 [year old] plus residents in our community and they're so overjoyed and relieved to be getting the vaccinations," says Genung. "That is providing hope for our community. So if this is an anniversary and we have to call it something - I would say it's an anniversary of hope."

Over the last week, the number of active cases of COVID-19 has once again increased in Cochrane. Mayor Genung says that is concerning and it's a reminder that the pandemic isn't in our rearview. 

The mayor has confidence that Cochranites will do their part to bend the curve. He says that now, 12 months into the pandemic, it's time to start reopening our economy more, getting people back to work and for the province to put the responsibility back on individuals to do the right thing.