Coronavirus Timeline

2019
2020

January 9 — WHO Announces Mysterious Coronavirus in Wuhan, China

January: A scientist in China confirms that a mysterious new pneumonia-like illness identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, can be transmitted from human to human. Two days later, China puts Wuhan under strict lockdown. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, the U.S. sees its first case of the disease, later named COVID-19. The patient is a resident of Washington state who had traveled to Wuhan. The Trump Administration declares a public health emergency.

Cases of COVID-19 begin to multiply around the world

February: Cases of COVID-19 begin to multiply around the world. Countries are restricting travel to contain the virus.

March: The WHO characterizes COVID-19 as a pandemic.

March: The WHO characterizes COVID-19 as a pandemic. In the U.S., the Grand Princess cruise ship is held at sea off the coast of California after 21 of the 3,500 people aboard test positive for the virus. California also becomes the first state to order all residents to stay home with the exceptions of going to an essential job or shopping for essential needs. As cases grow, hospitals become overwhelmed, and there is a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). In Italy, there is a moment of solidarity when people in quarantine sing from their balconies, starting a trend that sweeps across Europe.

April: As cases continue to surge, countries keep their borders sealed.

April: As cases continue to surge, countries keep their borders sealed. Businesses shut down (leading to massive job losses), schools close, sporting events cancel, and college students go home. People start wearing masks and practicing “social distancing.”

May: Experts focus on “flattening the curve``

May: Experts focus on “flattening the curve,” meaning that if you use a graph to map the number of COVID-19 cases over time, you would ideally start to see a flattened line representing a reduction of cases. After months in lockdown, states slowly begin a “phased reopening,” based on criteria outlined by the Trump Administration, in coordination with state, county, and local officials. Meanwhile, scientists across the globe are in a race to understand the disease, find treatments and solutions, and develop vaccines.

June: Efforts to reopen the economy leads to new cases

June: Efforts to reopen the economy leads to new cases, and the curve is not flattening. Experts point to the dangers of large gatherings and use terms like “clusters” and “super-spreader events.”

July: The pandemic is causing an uptick in mental health issues

July: The pandemic is causing an uptick in mental health issues as job losses continue to soar, parents juggle working at home with caring for or homeschooling children, and young adults grow frustrated by isolation from friends and limited job prospects. Officials debate the best scenarios for allowing children to safely return to school in the fall.

August: The first documented case of reinfection is reported in Hong Kong

August: The first documented case of reinfection is reported in Hong Kong. On a broader scale, COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. (after heart disease and cancer).

September: The school year opens with a mix of plans

September: The school year opens with a mix of plans to keep children and teachers safe, ranging from in-person classes to remote schooling to hybrid models. Meanwhile, the WHO recommends steroids to treat severely and critically ill patients, but not to those with mild disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people who had recently tested positive were about twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative test results.

October: President Trump tests positive for COVID-19

October: President Trump tests positive for COVID-19 after a gathering in the White House Rose Garden where multiple people were also thought to have been infected. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants full approval to a drug called remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19.

November: Cases rise again as cold weather drives more people indoors

November: Cases rise again as cold weather drives more people indoors—the U.S. begins to break records for daily cases/deaths. Many officials around the country bring plans for reopening to a halt. As the holidays approach, the CDC urges Americans to stay home, limit the size of their gatherings, and avoid mixing with people who don’t live in their household.

December: The FDA grants Pfizer-BioNTech the first Emergency Use Authorization

December: The FDA grants Pfizer-BioNTech the first Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for an mRNA vaccine, a new type of vaccine that has proven to be highly effective against COVID-19. A week later, it grants another EUA to Moderna, also for an mRNA vaccine. But, as vaccinations begin, major variants of the virus are beginning to circulate. The UK reports that a new variant of the virus, called B.1.1.7, could be more contagious. By the end of the month, B.1.1.7 is detected in the U.S.

2021

January: In the U.S., the number of cases and deaths begins to fall.

January: In the U.S., the number of cases and deaths begins to fall. But more variants are spreading, including one first identified in South Africa called B.1.351, which is reported in the U.S. by the end of the month. Around the world, the race is on to vaccinate as many people as possible in time to slow the spread of the variants. Researchers work to understand how deadly or contagious variants are compared to the original virus.

February: There is not enough vaccine supply to meet the demand

February: There is not enough vaccine supply to meet the demand. But the Biden Administration expects the addition of a third option (by Johnson & Johnson) to make vaccines more available to everyone. Meanwhile, companies are working to tweak their products to make distribution easier and to control new variants. So, while there may be hope that the end is in sight for the pandemic, it’s highly probable that we will still be wearing masks and taking other precautions for some time to come.

March 29 — Globally, COVID-19 case numbers increase for the sixth week in a row

March 29 — Globally, COVID-19 case numbers increase for the sixth week in a row, with a 14% increase over the past week and a 5% increase in deaths, tweeted Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead at WHO’s emergencies program. There was an increase in reported cases in all regions.

April 12 — The first two months of 2021 included six consecutive weeks of declining COVID-19 cases

April 12 — The first two months of 2021 included six consecutive weeks of declining COVID-19 cases globally, but cases have been increasing again in the past seven weeks, says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press briefing. In the past four weeks, deaths have also been increasing, he adds. Last week had the fourth-highest number of cases seen in a single week. Several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large upticks in cases.

May 28 — The global death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 3.5 million.

May 28 — The global death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 3.5 million.

June 10 — The Biden administration plans to buy 500 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

June 10 — U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration plans to buy 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and donate them to more than 90 lower-income countries and the African Union. This is the largest vaccine donation by a single country and will include 200 million doses this year and 300 million doses next year.

July 22: The United States has delivered about one million Johnson & Johnson doses

The United States has delivered about one million Johnson & Johnson doses to Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gambia, and Senegal in recent days, with another 1.2 million doses set for delivery this week to Cameroon, Lesotho, Niger, Zambia, and Central African Republic, says Jessye Lapenn, U.S. ambassador to the African Union, during a press briefing. These are the first tranche of shipments of approximately 25 million vaccine doses the U.S. committed to donating to African nations.

Aug 18 - The U.S. will begin offering booster shots

Aug. 18 — The U.S. administration announces it will begin offering booster shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to members of the American public eight months after a second dose.

Sept. 22 — President Joe Biden announces an additional 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine

Sept. 22 — During the U.S.-led Global COVID-19 Summit, U.S. President Joe Biden announces an additional 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for donation to low- and middle-income countries in 2022, bringing the total U.S. pledged COVID-19 vaccine to over 1 billion doses. The U.S., through USAID and the U.S. CDC, will also provide an additional $370 million to build countries’ capacity to roll out vaccination, while the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation will provide over $383 million in political risk insurance to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to facilitate vaccine shipment to nine countries in three continents, but details on which countries were not announced.

Dec. 22 — 3.5 million people died from COVID-19 in 2021

Dec. 22 — 3.5 million people died from COVID-19 in 2021, which is a higher death toll compared to HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined deaths in 2020. Around 50,000 people died from COVID-19 every week.

Nov. 1 — Globally confirmed deaths from COVID-19 surpass 5 million.

Nov. 1 — Globally confirmed deaths from COVID-19 surpass 5 million.