It’s been two years since the coronavirus pandemic upended people’s lives all over the world.
Although the nationwide quarantine was intended to last only 14 days in order to slow the spread of the virus, two weeks turned into a two-year ordeal that lasted far longer than health experts had predicted.
“Two years ago, I, like many others, believed that restrictions would be lifted in two months. If someone had told me we’d still be wearing masks after two years – and that we’d have effective vaccines – I might have done things a little differently.” according to David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Part of what has made this so exhausting is that we’ve thought, time and again, that the end of the pandemic was just a month or two away. But we’ve finally come to realize that a ‘pandemic end date’ just isn’t coming anytime soon,” Dowdy added.
Although studies now show that the virus began rapidly spreading across the country in late 2019, many Americans were still completely unaware of what the “novel coronavirus” was and the looming health crisis – one that would highlight the country’s and the world’s lack of preparedness to deal with such a pandemic.
It wasn’t until positive cases arrived in the United States that most Americans became aware of the escalating crisis.
Former President Donald Trump rushed to assuage public fears, telling them repeatedly that the situation was under control.
“It’s going to vanish. It will vanish one day, almost miraculously “Trump predicted that it would happen in late February 2020. “The coronavirus is well under control in the United States.” However, the spread of the virus would soon soar to unprecedented levels, in a rapid escalation that led states and cities to shut down, and families to retreat to their homes.
Despite the development of vaccines and treatments, nearly 965,000 American lives have been confirmed lost to the virus.
The Trump Administration predicted that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die in late March 2020, though the president told reporters at a White House briefing that he believed the death toll would be “substantially below” 100,000.
Many experts believe that the current COVID-19 death totals are undercounted due to inconsistent reporting by states and localities, as well as the exclusion of records of excess deaths – a measure of how many lives have been lost in excess of what would have been expected if the pandemic had not occurred. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been over 1 million excess deaths since February 1, 2020.
In the early days of the pandemic, New York was particularly hard hit. Former Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 1, 2020. In a matter of weeks, New York City would become the nation’s viral epicenter, with COVID-19-positive patients quickly overwhelming hospitals and city morgues, bringing the Big Apple to a halt, shuttering businesses and causing a mass exodus from the city’s boroughs to surrounding suburbs.
As more Americans began to exhibit symptoms, there was a growing demand for COVID-19 tests across the country in the days that followed. However, despite a March 6, 2020, proclamation by Trump that “anybody that wants a test can get a test,” the demand for COVID-19 testing would soon outpace the supply.
It would take seven months before the U.S. would ramp up testing enough to test 1 million Americans a day.
There were no antiviral treatments or vaccines available at the time to help health care workers deal with an influx of patients in need.
On the same night, the NBA announced that it would suspend its season due to a COVID-19 outbreak, following a mid-game suspension of play between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder, while actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced from isolation that they had been diagnosed with coronavirus.
Beginning March 12, 2020, Broadway theaters will be closed for more than a year after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that no gatherings of more than 500 people would be permitted, with the exception of schools, hospitals, mass transit, and nursing homes.