One of the Worst Months on Record
March 2020 has shaped up to be one of the worst months in recent memory
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article highlighting the initial local impact of COVID-19, and what we as members of this daunting society can do to limit its spread. Despite that article being written on March 7, the pandemonium and utter disorder that the month of March 2020 has morphed into, had not yet been realized at that point.
“When will the virus subside?” the article casually asks. As if the Coronavirus was any other seasonal virus, categorized with mere disdain.
The virus was already spreading at this point, but it had not yet begun to take its full toll on society. That was, until four days later.
March 11, 2020: the day that shall live in infamy for not one nation, but the entire world. This was the day that shaped the rest of the month, and potentially future months. On this day, we as a people changed dramatically: the way we think, the way we act, the way we live our lives.
The day started as any other March 2020 day: constant news reports and new data bombarding us, outlining the avid rise of the virus across the world. Specifically, Italy was already under quarantine, its hospitals overloaded with patients and streets filled with fear. Footage of a nation plagued with death ran amok on news outlets, sparking global panic. Hundreds of millions across the world watching this footage wondered if their nation was next.
It was announced that major events, such as Broadway shows and New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which had never been canceled in its 258-year history, would, in fact, be canceled. Schools across the United States began to transition to online learning, dubbed ‘remote learning’, for the remainder of their semesters and school years. Millions of students and teachers were forced to leave their comfort zones and begin preparing virtual lessons. School was no longer in session.
By nightfall, the situation only got worse, not only for Italy, but for society worldwide. The World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a worldwide pandemic. Tom Hanks and his wife tested positive for the virus. Then, Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the NBA suspending the remainder of its season indefinitely.
All of these events unfolded in mere minutes on the night of March 11, 2020. It was as if society was on the brink of collapse for weeks, and this little microscopic bug pushed it over the edge, the final wrecking ball through the heart of society, plunging it into utter chaos.
The next day wasn’t any better. Stock markets across the globe crashed, setting record lows. The NHL, MLB and MLS followed suit of the NBA, and suspended their seasons indefinitely. For baseball fans, Spring Training is a unique time, characterized by America’s pastime under the warm Florida sun, surrounded by palm trees and cracker-jacks. It indeed suffered a grim fate, with Major League Baseball officially stating on March 13:
Following a call with the 30 Clubs, and after consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association, Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. today announced that MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks, due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the next few days, society plunged further into the depths of despair. March Madness, the NCAA college basketball tournament beloved by millions across the States, announced it would be played with no fans. The idea of this was incomprehensible to many, and ultimately, the tournament was canceled altogether. State governments placed restrictions upon its citizens, banning gatherings of more than 50, 20, and then 10 people. This, consequently, resulted in the demise of large-scale events, such as WWE Raw and even WrestleMania 36, forcing those events to be pre-recorded with no audience.
However, those off the grand stage of television were also hurt, and continue to be hurt. In New York State, where cases have soared to over 70,000 as of March 31, an unprecedented number not matched by any other state, local businesses have been forced to shutter. All bars, gyms, movie theaters, restaurants, and traditional mom-and-pop shops have been forced to close their doors, leading to a vast uptick in unemployment. In the third week of March alone, over 3.2 million people filed for unemployment.
As nations across the world shut their doors, enforcing global travel bans, the airline industry has taken a massive hit. Nearly every airline company on Earth has been negatively impacted, with major cuts in revenue, employment, and forced fleet grounding and early retirement. With the desire for air travel being simply non-existent during this period of time, larger-capacity aircraft ultimately serve little purpose and have been grounded across the world.
Prominent airlines such as AirFrance, KLM, British Airways and Qantas have grounded their entire Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 fleets, which are the two largest passenger aircraft, carrying between 400 and 500 passengers each. On March 16, the AirFrance-KLM group officially announced its reductions, stating:
Faced with these growing restrictions on the possibility of traveling and a strong downward trend in demand which has resulted in a drop in traffic and sales over the last few weeks, the Air France-KLM Group is obliged to gradually reduce its flight activity very significantly over the next few days, with the number of available seat kilometers potentially decreasing between 70 and 90 percent.
On the same day, the DOW Jones fell by almost 3,000 points, the single largest point drop in history, surpassing the 1929 Black Monday crash. On March 20, the number of global cases exceeded 250,000, with deaths reaching 10,000. Six days later, those figures had doubled, with a half-million cases and 23,000 deaths worldwide. In an unprecedented turn of events, most likely due to the lack of proper testing and containment, the United States surpassed Italy and China in Coronavirus cases, reaching 81,000 cases and 1,000 deaths. By the end of the month, those numbers would more than double, with 163,000 cases and 2,860 deaths by March 31, according to the CDC, with almost half of those numbers coming from New York State alone.
In an apparently never-ending series of bad events, the sports world took yet another hit, as it was announced that the 2020 Summer Olympics would officially be postponed to 2021 (while oddly still being labeled as the 2020 Olympics). The Olympics, arguably acting as a positive unifying factor across the world, collapsed due to a negative world-unifying factor, COVID-19.
With the monumental economic, political and social turmoil the Coronavirus has caused, in one month, we can only wonder what is to come in April. All we can do at this point is cross our fingers and hope April will be better. The virus is expected to hit its peak in April, so things will only get worse before they get better. However, for billions across the world, March 2020 has been the definition of worse. Now, with March in our rearview mirrors, time is humanity’s only respirator, as society clings to a blacked-out light of hope.
Chris is a writer and publisher who travels America, and loves doing it. He also loves pizza, video games, and sports, and can tell you a thing or two about each. Follow him on Medium to be informed of new articles.