March 11, 2020: The Day the World Got Serious


Smithsonian Magazine

A common strand of the COVID-19 virus.

March 11, 2020:


Schools are closing. People are frantically worrying. And.. sporting events will now be played WITHOUT FANS AND SPECTATORS in the arenas?!?! Or in most cases, games are canceled for good, with professional athletic leagues temporarily suspending play in almost every sport.


A brand new illness has the entire world in crisis-mode, panicking with chaos, and in complete disarray. This illness is COVID-19.


The COVID-19 virus, more commonly known and referred to as the “Coronavirus”, has quite literally become a global phenomenon. And quite a catastrophic phenomenon, at that.


Starting approximately in very late December 2019, a mysterious new virus began to appear in parts of China, and quickly began to infect a few hundred people. 


A few hundred people soon became several thousands. Within a matter of just a few short weeks, the disease began to spread almost uncontrollably fast within China, and tens of thousands of citizens became affected, and many infected


For these first few weeks during the period when the virus began to spread rapidly, China did not release much information to the rest of the world or the media concerning the illness. Many people from other countries all across the globe desired to learn more information about the new virus, but there were not many details to be found.


When February arrived, about a month following the beginning of its spread, the Coronavirus quickly began to make its way from China out into several other countries. One of China’s next door neighbors was one of the first nations to get hit particularly hard with a rapid amount of sudden cases of the virus. 


This neighboring nation was South Korea.


South Korea got hit very suddenly and very heavily. Several hundreds of newfound cases began to appear across the country, and these few hundred soon turned to a few thousand. 


The number of cases continued to pile up in South Korea until the very first days of March, when things finally started to slow. This was only once the South Korean government finally began to get things under control and limit the spreading of the virus through the practice of quarantining its citizens.


However, South Korea did not end up ultimately being the nation hit the hardest once the Coronavirus made its diaspora outside of China. 


That “honor” actually goes to a different country which will be mentioned shortly.


However, the next nation to get attacked by the virus was Iran.


To end the month of February and start off March, Iran got hit by COVID-19 even harder than South Korea had. The country began to deal with incoming Coronavirus cases since the beginning of February, but in the few weeks that followed, the outbreak got even worse. Each day brought hundreds of new cases, and hospitals and emergency services struggled to contain the virus and keep up.


Finally, the next nation to experience the wrath of the wicked Coronavirus was Italy. This is the country who takes that “honor” of being the most sudden and hard hit by the virus.


The outbreak of the illness was definitely the most sudden and possibly the most scary on Italian soil. Italian citizens became sick at an incredibly alarming rate, and people began to go into panic-mode. 


The Northern part of the country got hit the hardest at first, as large cities such as Milan, Venice, and Florence all began to experience significant outbreaks of the disease. 


As the disease quickly spread across northern Italy, it also made its way down the coast and southward toward the illustrious capital city of Rome. As it spread, chaos ensued, cases skyrocketed, and many deaths even occurred. The Italian government was forced to do something to contain the spreading, and quickly.


On Tuesday, March 10, Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, called for a near-complete lockdown of the entire country. Banks, stores, shopping malls, theaters, restaurants… everything. Shut down and closed. 


People were instructed to stay home and essentially not leave unless it was an absolute emergency. This was a drastic measure to take, but at this point, it was the only option the nation had in order to effectively contain and attempt to slow the virus within Italy.


As of Wednesday, March 11, nearly 62.5% of all reported cases of the virus were in China. However, that percentage began steadily decreasing each day, as the spread of COVID-19 finally began to slow within China, but soar within other nations all over the world. 

Countries like Spain, France, Germany, and even the United States were beginning to feel the significant effects of the Coronavirus.


Something had to be done.


Later that day, (March 11), somewhat of a “call to action” was made by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, or WHO.


At approximately 12:26 PM Eastern Time in the U.S., the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 as a “pandemic” through a simple tweet on Twitter. Prior to this tweet, Coronavirus was considered a ‘global health emergency’, but not yet a full-blown pandemic.


At the exact moment of the tweet, there were over 118,000 people reportedly infected with the Coronavirus, and just under 4,300 deaths worldwide.


Essentially, all that this announcement did was spread even more awareness to people all over the world that this illness is very serious. If people do not take proper safety and health precautions, the virus will spread more rampantly.


Between just March 11 and March 16, 2020, the global Coronavirus count increased by about 60,000 cases. 


In this small time frame, the United States specifically has seen an astronomical rise in cases, with an average of around 600-700 new cases per day in a five-day span. 


On Friday, March 13, President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 as a “National Emergency” in the United States.


As of Monday, March 16, more than 73% of all global cases were in four countries: China, Italy, Iran, and Spain— in that order. 


Also on March 16, the total number of cases surpassed 4,000 in the United States, and the global count has also continued to skyrocket, topping 185,000. Additionally, March 16 also brought the global death toll well over 7,000.


As of now, this is where the world stands. With the uncertainty of how the virus will take its toll in the upcoming days and weeks, many people are unsure of how long this pandemic will last. It may take a few weeks to slow the virus down, or it could even take a few months.


Although the numbers are staggering and somewhat frightening, if every affected country can do their absolute best to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, the world as a whole will get through this pandemic together.