4 Years Ago Today, the World Changed

WHO declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2024 9:55 AM CDT
The World Changed 4 Years Ago Today
This March 2020 photo shows a sign on the door of the closed Tivoli Theater in Lisbon, Portugal, that reads, "Stay home. Stay safe. Help us stop the COVID-19 pandemic."   (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

"It's pretty rare to be able to point to a single day that transformed the whole world," writes Sam Baker at Axios. But it's safe to say that March 11, 2020, qualifies. That's because, exactly four years ago on Monday, "society began to shut down," writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times. The two outlets are among many marking what's considered the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The day: On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. It also happens to be the day that Tom Hanks informed the world he'd tested positive, and when the NBA canceled the rest of its season.

  • Deaths: The pandemic has killed more than 7 million people worldwide, including nearly 1.2 million in the US, according to CDC stats. The Economist, meanwhile, tracks "excess deaths," referring to the number of deaths above what would be considered normal. The figure is about 30 million worldwide since the pandemic started.
  • Politics: Leonhardt's analysis finds that "liberals exaggerated the value of pandemic restrictions," while many in "red" America undervalued vaccines. The latter point is illustrated in a chart showing notably higher death rates in red counties once vaccines became available. Baker's piece says the pandemic "exposed and exacerbated deep inequalities in health care, the labor force, and the broader economy," adding that those inequalities still mostly persist today.
  • Long COVID: At the pandemic's peak, the US was logging more than 150,000 weekly hospitalizations because of COVID, and the figure is about 15,000 in the present day, reports ABC News. The nation is seeing about 570 weekly deaths now, down from the peak of about 26,000 in early 2021. The outlet adds that roughly 17.5 million Americans are currently battling long COVID.
(More COVID-19 stories.)

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