BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker fought back tears on Wednesday as Massachusetts marked the one-year anniversary of its COVID-19 emergency declaration, which upended daily life in ways no one could have imagined.

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When Baker took the extraordinary step and declared a state of emergency on March 10, 2020, there were just 92 reported COVID-19 cases in the Bay State. Twelve months later, that number has ballooned to nearly 561,000 reported cases.

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, but very few could envision the death and suffering of millions across the globe that ensued, in addition to the financial hardships, economic downturn, and months spent in isolation brought on by the highly contagious disease.

Schools, restaurants, and businesses closed, professional sports leagues came to a screeching halt, travel restrictions were implemented, stay-at-home orders were put into place, masks became a part of daily life, people were told not to gather, and millions started working from home in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

During a news conference, Baker became choked up as he spoke about the momentous milestone and the struggle the state endured as it scrambled to secure personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic.

“I have to say…First of all, I wasn’t expecting this,” an emotional Baker said following a tour of a N-95 manufacturing facility in West Bridgewater. “When I think about what we went through in those first few months to try to find PPE in world where every supply chain had virtually been frozen due to the pandemic, and the difficulties associated with getting very basic protective equipment to our healthcare workers, our first responders, long-term healthcare workers, and so many others here in Massachusetts who were looking for it…This is really in some respects a really specially moment and a happy anniversary.”


Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Tuesday also recalled the early days of the pandemic.

“This time last year, we were in the beginning of coronavirus,” Walsh said. “A lot of friends I talked to, I told them what I thought was going to happen…I think they thought there was something wrong with me. Two weeks later, literally, everything shut down.”

More than 16,000 people in Massachusetts have died from complications from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

As the pandemic worsened, millions of Americans lost their jobs and unemployment surged. About 10 million Americans remain jobless.

Restaurants, bars, and many businesses have been forced to rethink their operating strategy.

Some of Boston’s most iconic spots, including The Fours, Pour House, and Cheers at Faneuil Hall, were forced to close their doors.

Now, with three vaccines available here in Massachusetts and full-time, in-person education for some students just weeks away, the return to “normal” is in sight.

Gov. Charlie Baker also recently said that fans can again attend sporting events at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and TD Garden when the state is slated to move into Phase 4, Step 1 of its reopening plan on March 22.

Baker has said that progress in the economic reopening reflects improving virus infection rates, with major declines in new cases and hospitalizations since a post-holiday peak in January.

The state’s positive test rate fell below 2 percent in late February for the first time since October, data showed.

As of Tuesday, there were 758,250 people in Massachusetts who the state health officials consider to be “fully vaccinated” against the virus.

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