Several news outlets are highlighting today, March 11, as the one-year anniversary of Americans finally beginning to take the covid-19 seriously. It was the day the World Health Organization declared covid-19 a pandemic, the National Basketball Association abruptly halted its season, and—perhaps most importantly—actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, announced that they had contracted covid-19.
A travel ban and statewide stay-at-home orders across the nation soon followed, marking this nebulous mid-March stretch as our collective hunkering down period. But it really was news that a beloved American actor was sick with covid-19 while filming a movie in Australia that gave people a much-needed reality check (though Cardi B’s “CORONAVIRUS!” video, posted to her Instagram account one day prior, did what it could).
Now, Buzzfeed has published an oral history (featuring Chet Hanks!), NBC has its own dramatic retelling of “the day that changed America,” and NPR has dubbed March 11, 2020 “the beginning of the new normal.” It appears March 11 will forever be regarded as the official covid-19 anniversary here in the United States, and perhaps that’s fair. I don’t have an interview with any of the Hanks sons to prove that this day one year ago marked a monumental shift, but I do have a moment that I will never forget, one that has been immortalized in Twitter form.
One year and 529,00 dead Americans later, I have yet to see this neighbor wear a mask. Get vaccinated when you can, folks.