COLUMBIA – On March 1, daily life in Columbia looked a lot different than it does today.
People were preparing for the True/False Film Fest, which is one of the biggest weekends of the year for the city. Organizers were taking precautions around the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that meant extra hand sanitizer stations. They were expecting crowds of 16,000-18,000 visitors. Just a few weeks later, gatherings of that size are unimaginable.
Thirty days ago, on March 1, there had only been two deaths related to COVID-19 in the entire country. The latest numbers from the CDC now say more than 2,400 people have died in connection to the disease.
At the beginning of March, Missouri still hadn’t seen any COVID-19 cases. Gov. Mike Parson announced the first presumptive positive test in person in Clayton, Mo., on March 7. At first, as more tests came back positive, Parson traveled across the state to announce them.
However, the number of positive cases continued to grow. There are now more than 1,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in Missouri, and Parson holds daily press briefings in Jefferson City. When the briefings started, they were done in person, but they now happen over Facebook Live.
That shift to digital communication is not limited to the governor.
As coronavirus cases increased across the state, colleges and universities, including the University of Missouri, Stephens College and Columbia College, decided to close their campuses and move classes online for the rest of the semester.
Public schools across the state have also moved to remote learning models. Columbia Public Schools canceled in-person classes on March 18, just one day after officials announced the first two positive cases of COVID-19 in mid-Missouri.
Over the past month, major sports events have been postponed or canceled. The 2020 Olympics now won’t start until July 2021.
At the beginning of March, Missouri was preparing for the presidential primary election on March 10, and big-name candidates like Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg were still in the race. Now, several states have postponed their primary elections until June, when officials hope it’s safer for people to leave their houses.
Now, cities, counties and even some entire states are under stay at home or shelter in place orders. Restaurants are closed except for carry-out or delivery orders. Under Columbia and Boone County’s order, public or private gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.
A lot has changed about daily life over the past month, and a lot is going to continue to change. Right now, Columbia and Boone County’s stay at home order runs through April 24, and President Trump extended national social distancing guidelines through April 30. However, both those dates could change as the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop.