It was this time a year ago when the world began changing in ways we could scarcely have imagined. School classes were canceled. So were sporting events and religious services, weddings, proms and trips. People who could work from home did.
On this anniversary of our changed world, The Washington Post reflects on some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past year and on the many ways it reshaped our lives. We speak with artists, nurses, scientists and educators. We tell tales of personal loss and survival. We explore the limitations of human intervention and accountability and ask why we underestimated a virus that shut down the planet. Through a series of broad-reaching stories from every sector of life, “A pandemic year” attempts to piece together an immeasurable year.
In Italy, the coronavirus devastated a generation
Published March 3, 2021
In Italy, a year of data and personal accounts show how the virus concentrated its blow on a single, already-vulnerable age group, causing a historic spike in elderly mortality. Those 80 and older — a group that makes up 7 percent of Italy’s population — have so far accounted for 60 percent of the nation’s covid-19 deaths.
How future generations will judge our performance against the virus
Published March 4, 2021
Scientists, health-care workers and some leaders shined in the pandemic — but future generations might remember most how humanity’s best instincts were overshadowed by its worst. Experts warn it is notoriously tricky to decide when and whether to shut borders, impose lockdowns and enforce social distancing. Still, the numbers will tell posterity who got it right — and who didn’t.
What it felt like to live through the shutdown
Published March 8, 2021
Style reporters set out to note some of the countless emotions and personal losses: The almost-9-year-old who never felt like she got to be 8. The 102-year-old who lives in mandated isolation. The massage therapist and her customers who simply crave touch. The couple who postponed their big wedding — and may have to postpone it again. The single person losing her last sense of social contact. The DJ who spins for an empty room. The college freshman who has never set foot on campus.
How the underestimated virus took over the world
Published March 9, 2021
The virus would slowly reveal its secrets — and proceed to shut down much of the planet, killing more than 2.5 million people in the most disruptive global health disaster since the influenza pandemic of 1918. The failings of the pandemic response at the highest levels of government have been extensively documented. But the white-coat experts also struggled, particularly early in the crisis, to understand this stealthy pathogen.
27 entertainers on what happened when covid-19 turned out the lights
Published March 10, 2021
The sobering anniversary arrives as many of our great halls and museum galleries struggle to reopen, our rock heroes are relegated to online gigs, and we continue to wait anxiously for the great unknown of whenever it’s okay to resume live entertainment. This is the story of those last shows — staged and stopped just as the crisis was unfolding — as told by the artists, producers and organizers caught up in the largest cultural shutdown in modern history.
Sorrow and stamina, defiance and despair. It’s been a year.
Published March 11, 2021
For most people, March 11 was when the covid-19 crisis first became real. It was the day of a high-profile diagnosis, major event cancellations and an official designation: pandemic. Schools closed, streets emptied and commuters stayed home. We didn’t know it then, but the virus already had infected thousands of Americans. Over the next 12 months, leaders bungled opportunities to quell virus spread, case levels rose, fell and rose again, hope endured, and more than 525,000 people lost their lives. This timeline tells the story of a singular period in history.
Tech billionaires made record profits during the pandemic
Published March 12, 2021
The net worth of nine of America’s top titans has increased by more than $360 billion in the last year. And they are all tech barons, underscoring the power of the tech industry in the American economy. Tesla’s Elon Musk more than quadrupled his fortune, and jockeyed with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos for the title of world’s wealthiest person. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg topped $100 billion. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin profited as well. But the staggering rise in their gains contrasts with the economic devastation of millions of Americans, amid soaring unemployment and evictions.
Post Reports: A year through the eyes of a nurse on the front lines in New York
Published March 12, 2021
As a nurse at an intensive care unit in New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital, Jessica Montanaro is accustomed to leaping into action when patients’ lives are at stake. And when the coronavirus hit the U.S. last March, Montanaro, like so many health-care workers, found herself at the center of the chaos. One year after the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic, she reflects on her experiences caring for an influx of covid-19 patients and battling exhaustion and grief in her ICU.
How the pandemic is reshaping education
Published March 15, 2021
The coronavirus pandemic upended almost every aspect of school all at once. It was not just the move from classrooms to computer screens. It tested basic ideas about instruction, attendance, testing, funding, the role of technology, the human connections that hold it all together. A year later, a rethinking is under way, with a growing sense that some changes may last.