The month coronavirus shook the world
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
It’s already hard to envision the world we lived in one month ago.
Flashback: A WHO report from March 1 shows a total of 7,169 coronavirus cases outside of China, with just seven countries having recorded even a single fatality and the total death toll under 3,000, including China.
- The only Europeans under quarantine were residents of 10 towns in northern Italy.
- Spectators packed into sports stadiums, friends gathered at bars, nearly everyone went to work.
- Stock markets were reeling as forecasts of the coming storm grew darker, but life in Europe and North America went on more or less as normal.
- The March 2 edition of this newsletter focused on the Afghan peace deal, Israel’s election and Syria’s refugee crisis. The coronavirus didn’t feature, beyond our regularly updated graphic.
Flash forward: The global case-count has now topped 1 million.
- Spain, which hadn’t recorded a single death as of March 1, saw 4,249 over the past five days alone. Italy averages roughly as many deaths each hour as all of Europe had recorded a month ago.
- The U.S. has three times as many cases as the entire world did on March 1, and more than 30 times the caseload outside of China at that time. Unemployment claims last week were 33 times the rate seen one month ago.
- Countries that haven’t implemented some form of lockdown are the exception. India’s 1.4 billion people have been ordered inside. Reports or images of even small gatherings incite anger in European cities.
- 9 in 10 children worldwide are out of school, according to UNESCO.
April is going to be far worse.
- While daily death tolls appear to be leveling off in cities like Milan and Madrid, others like New York and London are still climbing rapidly toward terrifying peaks.
- There are surely countries and regions that have yet to see significant outbreaks but will by May 1.
What to watch: Citizens of hard-hit countries have been offered little clarity as to when they'll be able to return to something approximating the lives they led one month ago.
- Denmark offers a hopeful case. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says mitigation efforts there have been effective, and the country can now consider reopening in stages after Easter (April 12).
- The borders will remain closed to avoid importing cases, and senior citizens will be asked to continue to self-isolate, but schools and workplaces could reopen under staggered hours, to limit crowds on public transport.
- But even places like Taiwan and Hong Kong that contained initial outbreaks remain on alert, using high-tech monitoring to enforce quarantines. Almost nowhere have schools that were closed been reopened.
- The first wave has yet to crest in the U.S. and Europe, meanwhile, but experts are already warning of the waves to come.
The bottom line: Our way of life changed in fundamental ways in less than a month. The return to "normal" will likely take far longer.