Story at a glance
- The first report of someone sick with the coronavirus was on Dec. 31, 2019.
- There are currently more than 9 million confirmed cases globally.
- In the U.S., there are more than 2.3 million cases and deaths have surpassed 120,000.
The coronavirus pandemic has reached all corners of the world in a short amount of time. While globally the struggles with protective equipment and lack of treatments is universal, each local outbreak is different because how it progresses depends on the conditions of where it is taking place. What we’ve also found with SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 is that it is unlike anything we’ve ever encountered in the past.
It’s been six months since the first reports of cases of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The science has moved faster than ever to help us learn more about the virus and what it does to our bodies. There’s still a lot we don’t know, but here is a timeline of what has been reported and following that is a timeline of the big news stories by week since the start of the pandemic. However, we may still be far from the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A timeline of what we’ve learned about SARS-CoV-2
The novel coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2 for its similarity to the SARS coronavirus from 2002 and 2003, was new to scientists when it was first identified. Virus researchers were quick to sequence it, but that information was just the start of a long journey to fully understand what the coronavirus does in human bodies and why it causes severe illness in some people but not others.
The genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 is made publicly available.
Coronavirus transmission seems to occur through spread of droplets, and airborne transmission has not been reported in China, according to the WHO.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS RIGHT NOW
A later study estimates that the R0, or average number of new infections from one case, in Wuhan to be between 2.2 and 2.7.
Researchers report that there may be higher mortality in people put on ventilators.
Some folks in their 30s and 40s with COVID-19 are having strokes.
Reported reinfections in Korea turned out to be genome fragments and not reinfection.
Researchers estimate that 86 percent of cases before Jan. 23 were undocumented.
Symptoms and illness may last between 30 and 50 days in some people, called long-haulers, and some people may experience a return of symptoms.
Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 may be a major transmission pathway, according to a study published in the journal PNAS .
Young adults are coming down with a Kawasaki-like illness linked to COVID-19. Some of the symptoms include inflammation of blood vessels and rashes.
A study suggests that blood type may affect coronavirus infection rates.
The big COVID-19 news stories
Besides the science about the virus and illness it causes, many stories in the news are related to the coronavirus, especially when it comes to the economy and society. With the widespread shut down of places of work and schools, nonessential workers and students were sent home. From closing borders to emptying city streets, these are the stories of the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
China reports first death from the coronavirus.
First case outside of China is reported in Thailand.
First travel-related case in the U.S. is reported in Washington.
The WHO declares the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
A cruise ship named Diamond Princess is quarantined at a port in Japan, trapping its passengers in an environment where the coronavirus could spread easily.
The disease caused by the novel coronavirus is named COVID-19.
A WHO-led team of experts head to Italy.
Joint team of @WHO_Europe and #ECDC is set and ready to help @MinisteroSalute on the ground with ✅ clinical management ✅ infection control ✅ surveillance ✅ risk communication. Top priority to understand and retain #Covid_19 transmission.— Hans Kluge (@hans_kluge) February 23, 2020
First reported coronavirus death in the U.S. is near Seattle.
There are 100,000 cases globally, according to the WHO.
Today for the first time 100 countries are reporting #COVID19 cases. This comes after the reached 100,000 cases yesterday. While very serious, this should not discourage us. There are many things everyone, everywhere can and should do now. #coronavirushttps://t.co/7olb7FXEZ7— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 8, 2020
WHO says the COVID-19 epidemic is a pandemic.
First vaccine trials in humans move forward with their first study participants in a Phase 1 clinical trial.
Many states in the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders. Nonessential businesses are forced to close, and people are encouraged to remain indoors unless they need to travel for work, exercise or to care for someone.
In the U.S., black and Latinx communities are disproportionately affected and dying at higher rates than people of other ethnicities.
President Trump announces that the U.S. will pause funding to the WHO.
Americans start receiving their $1,200 stimulus checks as part of the CARES Act.
The first CDC diagnostic test kits were contaminated with the coronavirus.
Prisons are hotspots for COVID-19.
Food supply chains and meat processing plants report increasing coronavirus cases and experts are concerned about a meat shortage. Some states’ stay-at-home orders begin lifting or expiring
New information suggests the first coronavirus-related death in the U.S. occurred on Feb. 6 in California, a few weeks before the Feb. 29 death in Washington that was thought to be the first.
More than a dozen countries in Europe, including Italy, start to ease lockdown restrictions. Containment measures are also lifted in India. In the U.S., there is an ongoing debate on whether people not on the frontlines should wear masks or not.
Countries coming out of lockdown have new clusters of cases (Germany, China, South Korea, Lebanon). China plans to test all residents in Wuhan, using a batch testing approach for a portion of the samples. Everyone is talking about Sweden’s coronavirus containment approach, which didn’t involve more severe lockdowns like other countries in Europe, and whether it was the right move. It’s likely we won’t know until much later.
Two White House aides test positive for the coronavirus, while the President and Vice President are not required to wear masks in the White House.
On Memorial Day weekend, there are reports and images of large gatherings of people not wearing face masks, like at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. On the same weekend, a white woman named Amy Cooper calls the police on Christian Cooper, a Black man who was out birding in Central Park in New York, and George Floyd is killed when a police officer kneels on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Later in the week, people in the U.S. start protestesting the death of Floyd.
More than 100,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19.
President Trump ends U.S. involvement with WHO.
Days of protests follow the killing of Floyd in cities across the U.S. Most protestors wear face masks and people hand them out to those who need them.
The number of U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed the 2 million mark.
Hollywood studios were allowed to resume filming. Yet the numbers of cases are rising in several U.S. states, including 14 states that have had the highest seven-day average of new daily coronavirus cases. Many of these states started reopening earlier than other states, such as Florida, which started Phase 1 on May 18.
New cases are reported in South Korea, even though the government has been praised for its coronavirus response. There are two new cases in New Zealand and 100 in Beijing. Arizona, Texas and Florida report their largest one-day increases in coronavirus cases.
New York City enters Phase 2 of reopening, allowing outdoor seating at restaurants, and a study suggests that cases in the city have not risen due to Black Lives Matter protests. Florida tops 100,000 cases one month after starting the reopening process. Two aides to President Trump’s campaign test positive for coronavirus after the rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20.
For up-to-date information about COVID-19, check the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. For updated global case counts, check this page maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
You can follow Chia-Yi Hou on Twitter.
BREAKING NEWS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC