Everyone had a different moment when the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic snapped into place. It may have been the day they heard a report about a case in their area, the moment someone got sent home from work, or the day schools closed.
For many people, it was March 11th, 2020 — the day the news never stopped and the virus upended everything. The National Basketball Association suspended its season; Tom Hanks announced that he tested positive for coronavirus; and the World Health Organization (WHO) officially announced that the COVID-19 outbreak was a pandemic.
BuzzFeed News talked to scientists, producers, campaign advisers, Broadway performers, NBA players, and others to capture what it was like to live through the moments that showed how much everything was about to change.
Mark Tatum, deputy commissioner of the NBA, described watching Anthony Fauci talk about the league during a congressional hearing:
Dr. Fauci was asked whether the NBA was underreacting or the Ivy League was overreacting following the Ivy League’s decision to cancel its conference tournament. We were all watching when Dr. Fauci said, “We would recommend not having large crowds. If that means not having anyone in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it.” That was the morning of March 11. We all heard it.
WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris was in the room when Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced at a press conference that COVID-19 was a pandemic:
Because there was a buzz around the term “pandemic” and this sort of sense of moment around the term, we did realize people would take it as a more important moment than it was in terms of management of the response. But we also realized that it was important to be describing it that way because it was critical that countries got the message: This is very, super, super serious. This is not a game. This is not a test. This is not a dress rehearsal.
And Chet Hanks talked about going on Instagram to reassure people that his parents were “fine.”
Everyone I know was hitting me up, sending their wishes and whatnot, so I just figured I would just address it on Instagram because people were really worried, and I just wanted to reassure people that my parents were OK and everything was good.
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