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Coronavirus impact: Satellite images show world cities before and after outbreak

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Key Points
  • Before-and-after satellite images starkly show just how much things have changed across the world as the coronavirus outbreak spread.
  • Images provided by commercial satellite company Planet Labs reveal empty parking lots, beaches, bridges, waterways, and popular tourist and religious destinations in recent days.
  • After China, where the coronavirus outbreak began, Italy became the major hot spot of the pandemic. The disease stopped the gondolas of Venice, stilling the waters in that city's famed canals.

This is what it looks like when the world pauses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before-and-after satellite images starkly show just how much things have changed across the planet as the coronavirus outbreak spread.

Images provided by commercial satellite company Planet Labs reveal empty parking lots, beaches, bridges, waterways, and popular tourist and religious destinations in recent days.

Last week, thousands of people crowded the beaches of Miami on a sunny day, relaxing on the sands.

Videos showing college spring breakers partying on Florida beaches drew widespread criticism as concern grew over the coronavirus, and as cities around the nation urged residents to engage in social distancing to avoid spreading the disease.

Miami, before:

Satellite image of Miami Beach
Source: Planet Lab

Miami Beach was one of multiple cities and towns last week to close its beaches after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refused to do so statewide.

Miami, after:

Satellite image of Miami Beach on March 20th, 2020.
Source: Planet Lab

After China, where the coronavirus outbreak began, Italy became the major hot spot of the pandemic, with that country essentially locking down as thousands of people died from COVID-19.

Venice, before:

Satellite image of Venice, Italy on Feb. 28th, 2020.
Source: Planet Labs

The pandemic stopped the gondolas of Venice, stilling the waters in that city's canals so much that people could see the bottoms of those famed waterways for the first time in memory.

Venice, after:

Satellite image of Venice, Italy
Source: Planet Labs

Mecca, Saudi Arabia, one of the holiest cities in Islam, draws millions of people from around the world each year as they seek to complete the hajj, or pilgrimage, which is a mandatory duty for Muslims if they are capable of doing so.

The photo below shows a crowd, seen in black, walking in a circle around the Kaaba, the "House of Allah," the square building in the center of the Great Mosque of Mecca.

Mecca, before:

Satellite image of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Jan 25th, 2020.
Source: Planet Labs

With the pandemic, Saudia Arabia has suspended prayers in the mosques of Mecca, as well as in another holy city, Medina. The Kaaba now has no one circling it.

Mecca, after

Satellite image of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Marche 10th, 2020.
Source: Planet Labs

Millions of people each year make a secular pilgrimage to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, one of the most popular tourist destinations on Earth.

Walt Disney World Resort, before

A satellite image of Disney World in Orland, Fla on Jan 6th, 2020.
Source: Planet Labs
A satellite image of Disney World in Orlando, Fla on March 18th, 2020.
Source: Planet Labs