One year later: WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic

If you think a lot has happened in the last 12 months, let’s go back one year to when life changed because of the novel coronavirus.

On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, we woke up to the news that the World Health Organization had declared the COVID-19 a "global pandemic".

Officials with the World Health Organization said, "We have run the alarm bell loud and clear."

But, to one of the first infectious disease doctors we spoke with back then - Dr. Sunan Radnakrishna - things weren’t clear at all. Dr. Radnakrishna works at Dignity Health California Hospital. Of the virus, she says now that "We knew it had the potential to explode. But, doing a mathematical model and actually living it were two different things and living it was worse"

Just days earlier we hit the streets and asked people what concerned them. Do they think about it? One woman told us, "I think about it every day." A man we talked to said, "I still think the flu is a bigger deal."

Another man said, "It’s being hyped up a lot and more than it actually is."

When we asked who is hyping it up he said, "the media."

That day also marked one of the first times celebrities contracted COVID-19. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson sent out a tweet they had tested positive.

Also on that day, the LAUSD Board of Education gave Superintendent Austin Beutner the emergency authority to close schools if it became necessary.

Also on the same day, Harvard Westlake became the first school to shut down and set up online classes. Local colleges and universities were also making plans for remote learning.

LA County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer announced the first death from COVID-19 in LA County.

Dr. Ferrer said that day, "This is the time to avoid going to events where there are large groups of people. And, to stop going to theaters or concerts or sporting events."

The NCAA announced March Madness will be held without fans as shoes kept dropping one after another. Thermometers and disinfectant suddenly became popular.

Viewer comments reflecting back.

Margaret Taylor writes, "I felt like those earthquake movies where you’re running and the ground is crumbling behind you."

Delia Riley says, "I remember how empty the freeways were! I was also afraid to go anywhere for fear I would catch something and pass it to my friend."

Other viewers remember how surreal it was to suddenly be told they had to leave work. Still, others recall the panic buying at the stores and the businesses running out of things like toilet paper.

Yanira Obando says "I honestly was not taking it so serious until I went to the groceries and there were no wipes or diapers for my babies (and) that’s when I realized this was a big problem."

From no masks to double masks. From hugs and handshakes to fist and elbow bumps.

On March 11, 2020, the world changed. Pandemic Life began. Over the 12 months that followed, the death toll reached 530,000 people who died in our country and another 29.3 million who contracted the disease.

Dr. Radnakrishna says, "So many things have changed and I’m not sure it’s ever going to go back."

Meanwhile, to viewer Melissa Keyes, "Even a year later it still feels like a bad dream. I am forever changed."