March 11, 2020: 'The day everything changed'

ByBrock Koller KTRK logo
Thursday, March 11, 2021
March 11, 2020:  'The day everything changed'
6abc revisits the events of March 11, 2020 in Philadelphia and beyond as they unfolded.

The growing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the world was seen throughout the day on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

The virus's effects could be felt in all aspects of life, business, politics, sports, entertainment -- and around the globe.

Mask mandates and colored phases of closings were yet to be the norm, but the novel coronavirus was on top of people's minds and newscasts.

On March 11, 2020, there were more than 118,000 cases of COVID-19 in 114 countries and 4,291 people lost their lives.

A year later, there have been more than 118,000,000 cases worldwide and over 2.6-million deaths, according to John Hopkins University.

During an afternoon press briefing on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially classified COVID-19 as a pandemic.

"In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries even higher," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "WHO has been accessing this outbreak around the clock and we're deeply concerned, both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction."

"We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."

The World Health Organization declared that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic but also said it's not too late for countries to act.

President Donald Trump addressed the nation that Wednesday night. He announced he was cutting off travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days. The restrictions did not apply to the United Kingdom.

"For all Americans, it is essential that everyone takes extra precautions and practice good hygiene," Trump said. "Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus."

Watch President Trump's full remarks from March 11 about the federal government response to COVID-19.

Shortly thereafter, actor Tom Hanks announced on social media that he and his wife actress Rita Wilson had contracted the coronavirus.

Hanks said the two were in Australia and felt a bit tired, had colds and some body aches. He said Wilson also suffered chills and slight fevers.

"To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive," Hanks said.

The couple would recover from the virus and Hanks would go on to host "Saturday Night Live" remotely from his home in April.

The sports world's months-long pause would start to take shape on this date. Our sister station ESPN produced a "30 for 30" podcast episode called "March 11 2020," in which they describe that Wednesday as the "day everything changed."

Around that time of Tom Hank's social media post, the NBA announced it was suspending its season after a player on the Utah Jazz, later identified as Rudy Gobert, tested positive for COVID-19.

"The NBA is suspending gameplay following the conclusion of [Wednesday's] schedule of games until further notice,'' the league said in a statement issued shortly after 9:30 p.m. "The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.''

The shortened NBA season eventually continued in the summer.

Earlier in the day, the NCAA announced it would have no fans at its upcoming March Madness tournaments.

"While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.

A day later, the NCAA would cancel the tournaments.