NEW YORK (PIX11) — Just over two years after the state’s first COVID case, New York reached a grim milestone of 5 million virus cases, according to data from John Hopkins University.

The first case, a 39-year-old Manhattan woman, was reported on March 1, 2020. A second case was confirmed in Westchester County two days later and more than a dozen were confirmed by March 5, 2020. From there, cases exploded. Only Florida, Texas and California, all of which have larger populations than New York, have reported more coronavirus cases than the Empire State. 

New York has also reported more than 55,000 deaths from COVID, according to the state. The number could be higher though; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports their numbers differently, said more than 70,000 have died of the virus in New York. John Hopkins reports more than 67,000 deaths.

In the years since New York’s first case, residents have gone through a lockdown, masking mandates and vaccination pushes. Hospitals were overwhelmed. Schools closed. Businesses, unable to manage with people at home, shut down. 

A measure of hope returned as the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were approved. In late 2020, a New York City nurse was the first person in the country to get a dose.

Variant surges and reluctance to get vaccinated have stymied some efforts to fully stop the virus, but health experts remain confident if cautious. In New York and across the country, rules have been relaxed. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced the upcoming end of the school and day care mask mandate for children between the ages of 2 and 4. Children in that age range are not eligible for the COVID vaccine. 

His announcement came as New York has dealt with BA.2, a new omicron subvariant. As of mid-March, it accounted for about 40 percent of cases in the state, but Health Commissioner Mary Bassett has said she doesn’t expect to see a “steep surge” in cases connected with the variant.