The Pandemic — One Year Later


By Sydney Lake, Virginia Business

In March 2020, Sentara launched drive-thru COVID-19 screening and testing stations like this one at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach. Photo by Mark Rhodes

One year ago this week, Virginians started bumping elbows instead of shaking hands. We raced about trying to find toilet paper and hand sanitizer and began washing our hands obsessively as a virus we’d only heard about in the news suddenly appeared in Virginia and would quickly transform daily life as we knew it.

Virginia’s first COVID case was identified on March 7, 2020, and the first death followed exactly a week later, on March 14, 2020. In between those two events, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

By March 18-19, 2020, Virginia’s state universities and public schools had moved classes online. Metro reduced its service hours. State agencies and major companies like Capital One directed employees to stay at home and shift to telework, while restaurants, hotels and theaters closed their doors — some for a few weeks, others for good. Starting in mid-March 2020, the number of Virginians filing unemployment claims grew exponentially, as did the number of COVID-19 cases.


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