After pandemic year, weary world looks back — and forward

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FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2020, file photo, Francisco Espana, 60, is surrounded by members of his medical team as he looks at the Mediterranean sea from a promenade next to the "Hospital del Mar" in Barcelona, Spain. Francisco spent 52 days in the Intensive Care unit at the hospital due to coronavirus, but today he was allowed by his doctors to spend almost ten minutes at the seaside as part of his recovery therapy. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)

No one has been untouched.

Not the Michigan woman who awakened one morning, her wife dead by her side. Not the domestic worker in Mozambique, her livelihood threatened by the virus. Not the North Carolina mother who struggled to keep her business and her family going amid rising anti-Asian ugliness. Not the sixth-grader, exiled from the classroom in the blink of an eye.

It happened a year ago. “I expected to go back after that week,” said Darelyn Maldonado, now 12. “I didn’t think that it would take years.”

On March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, few could foresee the long road ahead or the many ways in which they would suffer -- the deaths and agonies of millions, the ruined economies, the disrupted lives and near-universal loneliness and isolation.

A year later, some are dreaming of a return to normal, thanks to vaccines that seemed to materialize as if by magic. Others live in places where the magic seems to be reserved for wealthier worlds.

At the same time, people are looking back at where they were when they first understood how drastically life would change.

On March 11, 2020, confirmed cases of COVID-19 stood at 125,000, and reported deaths stood at fewer than 5,000. Today, 117 million people are confirmed to have been infected, and according to Johns Hopkins, more than 2.6 million people have died.

On that day, Italy closed shops and restaurants after locking down in the face of 10,000 reported infections. The NBA suspended its season, and Tom Hanks, filming a movie in Australia, announced he was infected.