After Two Weeks the World Collapsed 

It’s been a long year, so what exactly happened?

Long. Tough. Unpredictable. It was only supposed to be two weeks. Those two weeks last March grew into what felt closer to two years: schools went down, masks went on and the World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic. Disaster after disaster turned 2020 into a cosmic joke with humanity as the punchline. One full year later, what’s changed, and what exactly happened?

“I am surprised at how many people do not take it seriously, thus prolonging it.  I am surprised at how quickly people have adapted to the idea that a September 11th number of fatalities a day has been normalized,” Simon Rohde, history teacher, said. 

Starting before COVID-19, on Jan.1 rioters for an Iranian-backed militia were fired on with rubber bullets and tear gas. Only two days later Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed, and 56 people were killed at his funeral in late January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the Coronavirus as a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’.

“At the very beginning, last February, I honestly didn’t really know what to expect. My doctor had shared some shocking information about the virus and told us schools would close soon. I remember thinking it was very intimidating,” sophomore Rachel Wahlgren said.

On Feb. 23, unarmed black man Ahmaud Arbery was on a jog where he was shot and killed in Georgia, sparking unrest. Six days later, the first COVID-19 death in the U.S. was reported. March 9 Italy goes on a complete lockdown and on the eleventh WHO declared it a pandemic. On March 13th unarmed black woman Breonna Taylor is shot and killed in her home by police in Louisville. Places and events worldwide start shutting down in earnest, including schools. On the 27th, stimuli checks were passed, and by the 31st the U.S. passed China in the number of cases.

“[Zoom] was strange and annoying because it was hard to adjust to but then it got better as teachers and students got used to the new situation,” sophomore Jessica Morrow said. “I think [zoom is harder] because it’s harder to connect to the teacher and people in the class and harder to connect to the lesson itself because it is on a screen and we could easily be distracted with things around us.”

April 14 brings Trump no longer funding the WHO and just 10 days later, the U.S. passes 50,000 total Coronavirus deaths. By May 8 the U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7%. May 25 brings the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, officially sparking protests for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality that led to riots. 

“My thoughts in April were that we would someday look back at this and remember it.  I really expected us to swing into a full shutdown to stop this thing cold.  I did not anticipate people’s tolerance of mounting fatalities,” Rohde said.

June 1st, 2020 protesters are dispatched with rubber bullets and pepper spray. On the 10, the U.S. became the first country to hit 2 million coronavirus cases. On the 12th., Rayshard Brooks is shot and killed in a Wendy’s parking lot by police, the shooter is charged with murder and his partner with aggrieved assault. The 15th. brings the illegalization of discrimination in the workplace based on sexual and gender identity.

“Personally I found this incredibly inhumane. Honestly what I found most horrific was that they did this at peaceful protests, and not strictly only at ones where it got out of hand for whatever reason,” Wahlgren said.

By early July, restrictions were being eased and the murder hornets arrive. On Aug. 4, an accidental detonation of ammonium nitrate caused Beirut to explode, killing 190 people, and injuring thousands more. On the 28, Chadwick Boseman, 43-year-old Black Panther actor, died of colon cancer after keeping his condition under wraps, even while filming. Since mid-Aug. deadly wildfires were sweeping across the west coast, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

“By August I was ready to go and excited to get back into the routine of seeing people and keeping busy with school, even if the activities would be limited. Most people dread the start of school, but I wanted to go back,” Morrow said.

On Sept. 18, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsberg, gender-equality activist and the second woman to be appointed in high court died at the age of 87. 

“Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a woman who I admired a lot personally. Whether people agreed with her or not, she was incredibly well respected and I looked up to her in a lot of ways. Her death was incredibly tragic and I think it was heartbreaking to a lot of people. She was really someone who made history in a lot of ways, and her death had an impact that showed that, ” Wahlgren said.

Oct. 2nd brought Trump testing positive for COVID-19 and being discharged from the hospital three days later.

Joe Biden became the president-elect on Nov. 7, beating out Trump after a long-awaited count from Pennsylvania and a switch of partisan leadership from Georgia. Only a day later, Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! host for 36 years, passed away from stage 4 pancreatic cancer. By Dec. 14, vaccines were approved and the first Americans were being vaccinated.

“The 1918 pandemic was kept quiet when it happened and largely forgotten when it was over.  Around the year 2000, when SARS, MERS, and H1N1 started going around, historians really started looking at it again.  Someone needs to chronicle this for the record,” Rohde said.

Even after calendars lose meaning, the days continue to roll by. All 365 of them brought something new to the table, for worse or for better. In order to understand the new issues in 2021, one needs to know the past issues of 2020. In that way, it’s imperative to know what happened in the two weeks the world collapsed.