News director Ed Reams of 27 News leads the afternoon staff meeting March 12, 2020, one of the last times the full staff met together in person.
News director Ed Reams of 27 News leads the afternoon staff meeting March 12, 2020, one of the last times the full staff met together in person. Dan Plutchak photo

The pandemic that stalked us for weeks finally dropped like a bomb a year ago today.

Just a day earlier, the World Health Organization had declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.

By the end of this day a year ago, the WIAA would call off the remainder of the state girls basketball championships, the most visible symbol that the health crisis was serious and wasn’t about to go away soon.

It would also be one of the last days the staff met together in person.

Just before the afternoon news meeting on Friday, March 13, 2020. This would be the last full staff meeting before we split up, with many of us working from home or remotely. Dan Plutchak/photo.

(MORE: A coronavirus timeline)

The following Monday, the newsroom at WKOW-TV, where I worked until retiring earlier this year, would be much quieter while many of the staff began working remotely.

By then, the big whiteboard in the newsroom with the latest stats from March 16 showed 47 people had been diagnosed in Wisconsin with what was now named COVID-19.

March 16, 2020. Dan Plutchak/photo

That week, Gov. Tony Evers would order bars and restaurants to close and gatherings of 10 or more people were banned.

All Catholic masses in the Madison diocese were suspended.

An early Zoom meeting. Dan Plutchak/photo

The first two deaths in the state would be reported by Gov. Tony Evers on March 19.

Now, a year later, 6,524 people have died because of COVID-19, and more than 3.2 million people have tested positive.

Schools closed, and many students began a year of virtual learning. Dan Plutchak/photo.
Schools closed, and many students began a year of virtual learning. Dan Plutchak/photo.

The toilet paper isle in the local grocery store, March 14, 2020. Dan Plutchak/photo.
The toilet paper aisle in the local grocery store, March 14, 2020. Dan Plutchak/photo.

But after a year of severe hardships, some hopeful signs are appearing this spring.

A year ago, a vaccine wasn’t even a topic of discussion yet.

But as of this week, nearly 20 percent of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

A nearly deserted Monroe Street in Madison during the morning commute on March 19, just after the Safer at Home order was announced. Dan Plutchak/photo.
A nearly deserted Monroe Street in Madison during the morning commute on March 19. Dan Plutchak/photo.

That pace is expected to accelerate, and in a prime-time address Thursday, President Joe Biden said he would call on governors to make all eligible to be vaccinated by May 1, 2021.

Hopefully, by summer, the worst of the past year will be a memory.

Dan Plutchak on March 16, 2020, his first day working remotely works remotely from home.

Dan Plutchak is the former social media and digital content manager for 27 News in Madison.

Comments

comments

By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, a Wisconsin native, is founder of the Plutchaknews Network.