On this day one year ago, March 11, 2020, the director-general of the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. In the three months leading up to that day, the coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19, had spread to over 110 countries. The WHO described the outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern.” At the time, almost 8,000 cases had been confirmed across 18 countries with nearly 200 deaths. The number was rising rapidly in Italy, South Korea, and Iran. Even so, the WHO, in an attempt to prevent global panic, announced that all countries could take steps to change the course of the pandemic.
The first case of COVID-19 was detected in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has since spread to every continent except Antarctica. In the United States alone, the number of cases has reached almost 30,000,000 with more than 500,000 deaths. It is, to date, the largest death toll of any country. President Joe Biden marked this grave milestone by addressing the nation and calling for a moment of silence. He shared a message of unity and hope that all Americans find purpose in their sorrow and grief. Today, more than 95,000,000 Americans have been vaccinated, an indication that we as a nation are progressing in the battle to beat COVID-19.
Tonight President Biden will speak to the nation again, delivering his first prime time address. He will express his sorrow for the loss that communities and families across the country have suffered and recognize the great sacrifices of those impacted by the pandemic. He will emphasize the role that all Americans can play in defeating the virus and returning to a more routine and familiar way of life.