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It’s Been a Whole Year

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 18: A man wears gloves and a bandanna across his face while riding a scooter past a shuttered movie theater, with the message 'Take Care of Each Other' displayed on the marquee, on March 18, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. The city of Beverly Hills mandated the closure of ‘non-essential’ stores, including the famous retailers on Rodeo Drive, starting today in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

One year ago today, so much changed. Most of us were already affected by the growing coronavirus emergency, although to what degree varied wildly based on your location. But on March 11, 2020, things took a sharp turn.

On that day, the World Health Organization said that the emergency could officially be characterized as a pandemic. At that point, COVID-19 had infected nearly 120,000 people worldwide and killed at least 4,000 people. Eight countries, including the U.S., were reporting more than 1,000 cases.

That declaration caused the stock market to plunge 1200 points.

That night, Donald Trump announced a ban on travel from Europe. It didn’t make much sense, since most European countries (with the exception of Italy) had relatively the same number of cases as we did at the time, and the ban also didn’t apply to trade or to the UK. But that’s what he decided to do.

Also that night, American treasures Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson shared that they had tested positive after arriving in Australia for a film shoot. As our Rachel Leishman wrote at the time, “Prior to this, Coronavirus was something that, in theory, many were aware of but were not taking seriously, and unfortunately, it took celebrities coming down with it to put things in perspective for many.”

“So, to see that coronavirus doesn’t care—that it will infect even our own National Treasure Tom Hanks? It really thrust the seriousness of the situation into the eyes of Americans who have been getting mixed messages on what to think—which isn’t a great thing to begin with, but at least their love of Tom Hanks is making them take coronavirus seriously now.”

On March 11, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress about the growing threat of COVID-19. “Bottom line, it’s going to get worse,” he said. If only Trump had been listening.

On March 11, the NBA shut down, suspending its season after the league saw its first positive COVID-19 test from a player.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier halted production in Prague to comply with local guidelines, including restrictions on public gatherings.

And I know it’s not directly or even indirectly related but it feels like some sort of sign of the magnitude of what we were going through—one year ago today, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Also on that day, Sarah Palin rapped “Baby Got Back” on The Masked Singer. If that wasn’t a sign of the times, I don’t know what was.

March 11 laid the groundwork for other major changes that would happen in the coming days. The next day, March 12, Broadway shut down. That was only supposed to be for a month.

Two days later, Trump would declare his new motto: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

That week, we’d have the first Democratic primary debate without a live audience, just the first of many audienceless events over the next year.

It’s been a full year since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. A year of being inside and trying so hard to be safe. There’s light at the end of this tunnel, though. Joe Biden just signed the massive $1.9 trillion relief bill ahead of his first prime-time television address as president. Vaccine efforts are ramping up across the country. And spring is just around the corner, giving us the ability to spend more time outdoors with friends once again.

(image: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.