A Modest Coronavirus Timeline

Coronavirus, appearing in interesting times
May These Be Interesting Times

Forced isolation in my house for 21 days and counting has given me a lot of time to think about things. Like; how in the hell was the entire world forced into quarantine literally in a matter of days? How we did get here? How in the hell did a microscopic blob of genome popularly called “coronavirus” manage to take over the entire world so quickly? I decided I needed to build a timeline and map it out.

I took a shot at a timeline a couple of weeks ago in an earlier post, for just five days worth of events. Since then I spent some time researching and working with new web building tools, and finally put it together. What I offer below the fold is over 200 coronavirus-related events, most of which have occurred since December.

Timeline Background

This is a complex timeline as it pulls together events from around the world through multiple sources. I’ve been careful to reference every entry, going back to source documents such as the actual press notes or Tweet whenever possible.

The red icon after each entry links to the reference.

This timeline is largely American-centric but I have included key data points from around the globe as needed. Many Chinese events are also includes given the probable origination of this pandemic.

I was careful to identify my source documents as this timeline doesn’t make our present administration look very good. No opinion, just facts, but trump-supporting right-wingers are going to jump on every instance of “MEDIA BIAS” possible to discredit information that happens to not conform to their world views.

This timeline is by no means complete and does not capture every worthy event. The pandemic is moving too fast to capture all news-worthy events. My timeline is simply meant to be a snapshot of events. I hope this timeline proves useful in understanding these interesting times we find ourselves in.

May 20, 2020 Editor Note: I’ve just posted a newer and more complete edition of a Coronavirus timeline COVID-19 Timeline Project. It provides more complete timeline information and extends past the ending point of this timeline. This newer timeline will be maintained current for at least the next several months.

Prelude

Year 2014

Building on the Ebola experience, the Obama administration set up a permanent epidemic monitoring and command group inside the White House National Security Council (NSC) and another in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—both of which followed the scientific and public health leads of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the diplomatic advice of the State Department.

Year 2016

National Security Council develops “NSC Playbook for Pandemic Response,” based upon lessons learned from the Ebola experience.

January 2017

Obama administration’s transition team conducted tabletop disaster response activities with Trump’s top aides. One of those tests was eerily prescient—a strain of novel and deadly influenza they called H9N2, origination in Asia and quickly spreading to Europe and then to the U.S. “Health officials warn that this could become the worst influenza pandemic since 1918,” the Obama team told Trump’s aides in the exercise.

February 2018

The global health section of the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) was cut by 80%. much of its staff was laid off and the number of countries it was working in was reduced from 49 to merely 10.

Spring 2018

In the spring of 2018, the White House pushed Congress to cut funding for Obama-era disease security programs, proposing to eliminate $252 million in previously committed resources for rebuilding health systems in Ebola-ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Under fire from both sides of the aisle, President Donald Trump dropped the proposal to eliminate Ebola funds a month later. But other White House efforts included reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. The government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund was eliminated.

April 2018

Homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, was fired Tuesday as the president’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, consolidates power in the White House.
Bossert had previously called for a comprehensive biodefense strategy against pandemics and biological attacks.

May 2018

White House officials tasked with directing a national response to a pandemic ousted. Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer abruptly departed from his post leading the global health security team on the National Security Council in May 2018 amid a reorganization of the council by then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, and Ziemer’s team was disbanded.
This team was created by the Obama administration in response to the Ebola pandemic, intended to monitor and prepare for future pandemics.

July 2019

Dr. Linda Quick, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was a resident adviser to Chinese health officials through July 2019, when she left the role upon learning it would be discontinued in September.
In the position — officially known as the resident adviser to the US Field Epidemiology Training Program in China — Quick trained field epidemiologists who helped track, investigate and contain diseases at the epicenter of outbreaks.

September 2019

US Council of Economic Advisers publish “Mitigating the Impact of Pandemic Influenza through Vaccine Innovation.” This report estimated U.S. impact of a pandemic as:
54,000 to over half million people die.
Hospitalizations range from 669,889 to 4,304,752.
Total costs between $413 billion in the low contagiousness/low-severity scenario to $3.79 trillion in the high-contagiousness/high severity scenario, with average total cost of $1.81 trillion.
Trump administration ends a $200-million pandemic early-warning program aimed at training scientists in China and other countries to detect and respond to pandemics. Called PREDICT and launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2009, the program identified 1,200 different viruses that had the potential to erupt into pandemics, including more than 160 novel coronaviruses.
Field work ceased when the funding ran out and
organizations that worked on the PREDICT program laid off dozens of scientists and analysts.

November 18, 2019

The CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security publish “Ending the Cycle of Crisis and Complacency in U.S. Global Health Security“: “The United States remains woefully ill-prepared to respond to global health security threats.”
The CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security urges the U.S. government to replace the cycle of crisis and complacency that has long plagued health security preparedness with a doctrine of continuous prevention, protection, and resilience.”

December 2019

December 1

The first known case of the novel coronavirus may trace back to this date in Wuhan, Hubei, China.

December 10

Wuhan, China: Wei Guixian, one of the earliest known coronavirus patients, starts feeling ill.

December 16

Patient admitted to Wuhan Central Hospital with infection in both lungs but resistant to anti-flu drugs. Staff later learned he worked at a wildlife market connected to the outbreak.

December 26

A pneumonia cluster of unknown cause was observed on 26 December and treated by the doctor Zhang Jixian in Hubei Provincial Hospital, who informed the Wuhan Jianghan Center for Disease Control on 27 December.

December 27

Wuhan Jianghan Center for Disease Control officials are told that a new Coronavirus is causing the illness.

December 30

Ai Fen, a top director at Wuhan Central Hospital, posts information on WeChat about the new virus. She was reprimanded for doing so and told not to spread information about it.
Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang also shares information on WeChat about the new SARS-like virus. He is called in for questioning shortly afterward.
Wuhan health commission notifies hospitals of a “pneumonia of unclear cause” and orders them to report any related information.

December 31

Wuhan health officials confirm 27 cases of illness and close a market they think is related to the virus’ spread.
China tells the World Health Organization’s (WHO) China office about the cases of an unknown illness.

January 2020

January 1

Wuhan Public Security Bureau brings in for questioning eight doctors who had posted information about the illness on WeChat.
Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, suspected of being the diesease source, closes.
An official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission orders labs, which had already determined that the novel virus was similar to SARS, to stop testing samples and to destroy existing samples.

January 2

Chinese researchers map the new coronavirus’ complete genetic information. This information is not immediately made public.

January 3

China reports a total of 44 suspected patients with the mystery disease.

January 7

Xi Jinping becomes involved in the response.
Chinese authorities formally identify a new type of coronavirus, calling it “novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV.”
The US CDC under Dr. Redfield creates an “incident management system” for the coronavirus and advised travelers to Wuhan to take precautions.

January 9

China announces it has mapped the coronavirus genome, publicizing work completed on January 2.
China reports first death linked to the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, a 61-year-old male admitted to hospital in Wuhan with several underlying medical conditions. Apart from respiratory failure and severe pneumonia, the patient also suffered from abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease.

January 11

Chinese scientists posted the genome of the mysterious new virus, and within a week virologists in Berlin had produced the first diagnostic test for the disease.

January 11 – 17

The Chinese government holds an Important prescheduled CCP meeting in Wuhan. During this time, the Wuhan Health Commission insists there are no new novel coronavirus cases.

January 13

Thailand reports their first imported case of 2019-nCoV. The patient, a 61-year-old woman from Wuhan, did not report visiting the Huanan seafood market.

January 14

WHO announces Chinese authorities have seen “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”

January 15

The patient who becomes the first confirmed U.S. case leaves Wuhan and arrives in the U.S., carrying the coronavirus.

January 18

The Wuhan Health Commission announces four new coronavirus cases.

January 19

Beijing sends epidemiologists to Wuhan to assist in researching the coronavirus.

January 20

South Korea confirms its first case of 2019-nCoV. The patient did not report visiting markets in Wuhan.
Dr. Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese doctor who is helping to coordinate the coronavirus response, announces the virus can be passed between people.
First U.S. case is reported: a 35-year-old man in Snohomish County, Washington.

January 21

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the first coronavirus case in the United States.
The Chinese Government’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily mentions the coronavirus epidemic and Xi’s actions to fight it for the first time.
China’s top political commission in charge of law and order warns that “anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of coronavirus cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity.”

January 22

“We have it totally under control,” Trump told “Squawk Box” co-host Joe Kernen in an interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

January 23

Wuhan and three other cities are put on lockdown, just as approximately 5 million people leave the city for the start of Chinese New Year without being screened for the illness.
The Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau cancels all large-scale Lunar New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the growing spread of Wuhan coronavirus. Chinese authorities enforce a partial lockdown of transport in and out of Wuhan. Authorities in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou Huanggang announce a series of similar measures.
WHO Situational Report (SITREP 3) assesses the risk of this event to be very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level.
The first case in Singapore was confirmed, involving a 66-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan who flew from Guangzhou via China Southern Airlines with nine companions to visit a resort.
Vietnam confirms their first two cases of 2019-nCoV.

January 24

China extends the lockdown to cover 36 million people and starts to rapidly build a new hospital in Wuhan. From this point, very strict measures continue to be implemented around the country for the rest of the epidemic.
President Trump Tweet: “China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) , who sits on the Senate Health Committee, makes stock trades worth over $18.7 million the same day that committee held a private all-members session on 2019-nCoV. Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chair of the New York Stock Exchange and chair and CEO of its holding company, Intercontinental Exchange.
Coronavirus confirmed in France, in Bordeaux with a 48-year-old French citizen who arrived in France from China. Two more cases were confirmed by the end of the day among individuals who had recently returned from China.
Japan and U.S. each confirm second 2019-nCoV cases. Nepal confirms their first case of 2019-nCoV.

January 25

Start of Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rat.
Australia confirms the first case of 2019-nCoV in the continent, with health authorities announcing three more cases later in the day.
Malaysia reports their first four cases.
Canada reports their first case.

January 27

The virus was confirmed to have been transmitted to Germany when the first 2019-nCoV case was confirmed in Bavaria.
Cambodia and Sri Lanka confirm their first 2019-nCoV cases.

January 28

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) accused Democrats of misleading the American public about Trump administration’s coronavirus response for political gain. Her Tweet: “Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on #Coronavirus readiness. Here’s the truth: @realDonaldTrump & his administration are doing a great job working to keep Americans healthy & safe.”

January 29

Trump Press Brief: announces the formation of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force. The Task Force is charged with leading the United States Government response to the coronavirus and keeping him apprised of developments.
The virus reaches the Middle East for the first time, with the United Arab Emirates reporting imported cases in a family of four.
Finland reports its first confirmed case.

January 30

WHO declares a global public-health emergency.

January 31

President Trump bans foreign nationals from entering the US if they were in China within the prior two weeks.
Two members of a family of Chinese nationals staying in a hotel in York, England, became the first confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
The outbreak was confirmed to have spread to Italy when two Chinese tourists tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in Rome.
The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Spain when a German tourist tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in La Gomera, Canary Islands.

February 2020

February 2

First coronavirus death outside China is recorded in the Philippines.

February 4

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) , head of the Senate Finance Committee which oversees the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reports on a HHS National Security office brief. “The coronavirus doesn’t appear to pose any imminent threat to Americans who have not recently traveled to the Hubei province of China. I’m encouraged by steps the federal government is taking to protect Americans abroad and at home. The quarantining process for at-risk Americans returning to the United States from China is necessary for both their health and safety and the health and safety of the rest of the country.”
Singapore reports the first few 2019-nCoV cases originating from local transmission.
Belgium reports its first case of 2019-nCoV. The patient was one of the nine people recently repatriated from Wuhan.

February 5

The Trump impeachment saga ends when 51 of 52 U.S. Republican senators votes to not remove him from office.
The U.S. CDC begins shipping coronavirus test kits to laboratories around the country. the agency said it was releasing 200 kits — each capable of testing around 700 to 800 specimens — giving labs just one kit each.

February 7


Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, the first doctor to identify the new virus strain, dies in Wuhan, China.
Trump Tweet: ”… as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.”
A study was published in the medical journal JAMA, which found that found that 41% of the first 138 patients diagnosed at one hospital in Wuhan, China, were presumed to be infected in that hospital. The study’s results indicated that the virus was very infectious.
Sen Richard Burr (R-NC) – head of the intelligence committee – and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) – Chairman of the Senate Health Committee – co-authored an Oped that assured “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus. […] No matter the outbreak or threat, Congress and the federal government have been vigilant in identifying gaps in its readiness efforts and improving its response capabilities.

February 8

A US citizen dies in Wuhan, China, the first death of an American citizen due to the 2019-nCoV.

February 9

The death toll of victims of the 2019-nCoV is now over 800, surpassing the death toll of the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003, which killed 773 people.

February 10

Trump Press Brief: “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now. So — but a very good question.

February 11

WHO announces that the new coronavirus disease will be called “COVID-19.

Mid-February

A flaw in the U.S. CDC-distrbuted coronavirus tests is discovered, which causes inconclusive results. CDC orders state labs to discontinue using the tests. As a result, the US will only performabout 100 tests per day. The test criteria for weeks to come: those who traveled to an outbreak area, who had close contact with people diagnosed with COVID-19, or those with severe symptoms.

February 12

The U.S. CDC told reporters that some labs had been experiencing issues when doing verification tests to make sure the tests worked.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that the US “should be prepared for this new virus to gain a foothold […] at some point we are likely to see community spread in the US or other countries.”
As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sen Richard Burr (R-NC) is briefed by government health experts on overall national preparedness and how an epidemic might impact the U.S.
Coronavirus cases start to spike in South Korea.

February 13

Sen Richard Burr (R-NC) sells off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $628,000 and $1.72 million in 33 separate transactions. As head of the intelligence committee he has been receiving daily coronavirus briefings. His biggest sales included companies that will be among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus-driven economic slowdown.

February 14

Trump Speech: “And we’re — we have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape. And I spoke with President Xi of China, and he’s working very hard on this. It’s a tremendous problem. But they’re very capable and they’ll — they’ll get to it. There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm — historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don’t know yet; we’re not sure yet. But that’s around the corner, so that’ll be a great thing in China and other places.”
The U.S. CDC announced a plan to perform coronavirus screening in five high-risk cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. An agency official said it could provide “an early warning signal to trigger a change in our response strategy.”
Egypt reports its first case of COVID-19. This is the first case confirmed on the African continent and the first new country to see a case since Feb. 4.

February 16

An American woman who had been on a cruise ship that docked in Cambodia, tests positive for COVID-19 after flying to Malaysia. The ship set sail from Hong Kong on Feb.1, with 1,455 passengers and 802 members of its crew.

February 18

Acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Tomas Philipson, told reporters; “I don’t think corona is as big a threat as people make it out to be,” Public health threats did not typically hurt the economy, Mr. Philipson said. He suggested the virus would not be nearly as bad as a normal flu season.
More than a dozen American cruise ship passengers who had contracted the virus were evacuated home.

February 19

Trump remark: “I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine.”
The Chinese CDC, in a study of more than 72,000 confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19, found that the virus was more contagious than the related viruses that cause SARS and MERS.
Iran reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections in Qom, where, according to the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, two people died later that day.

February 21

An cluster of COVID-19 cases was detected, un-associated with the earlier Rome cluster, starting with 16 confirmed cases in Lombardy, Italy. First Italian dies of the disease.
Lebanon confirms its first case of COVID-19: A woman who arrived from Iran and is now quarantined at a hospital in Beirut.
Israel confirms its first case of COVID-19: A person who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan’s coast.

February 23

The WHO announced that the virus was in 30 countries, with 78,811 confirmed cases, a more than five-fold increase over the previous three week.
Trump Press Conference: “Q – Have you been updated on the coronavirus, sir? Ans – Yeah, we’re very much involved. We’re very — very cognizant of everything going on. We have it very much under control in this country.
Q – Are you concerned for that virus expansion in Japan? Ans – Well, it’s a big — it’s a big situation going on throughout the world. […] We have it very much under control. We accepted a few people — a small number of people. They’re very well confined and they should be getting better fairly soon. Very interestingly, we’ve had no deaths […] We had 12, at one point. And now they’ve gotten very much better. Many of them are fully recovered.”

February 24

Trump Tweet: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
WHO director Tedros Adhanom warned that the virus could become a global pandemic because of the increasing number of cases outside China.
Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Oman report their first cases of COVID-19.

February 25

Trump Press Brief: “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are … getting better. They’re all getting better. … As far as what we’re doing with the new virus, I think that we’re doing a great job.”
White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said, “We have contained this, I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight.”
Trump Tweet: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is complaining, for publicity purposes only, that I should be asking for more money than $2.5 Billion to prepare for Coronavirus. If I asked for more he would say it is too much. He didn’t like my early travel closings. I was right. He is incompetent!”
Trump Press Brief; Trump contrasted fatality rate for coronavirus with fatality rate for the 2014 – 2016 Ebola outbreak saying “in the other case (Ebola), it was a virtual 100%” and that “with Ebola — we were talking about it before — you disintegrated. If you got Ebola, that was it.” […] At that time, nobody had ever even heard of Ebola.”
In an effort to contain the largest outbreak in Europe, Italy’s Lombardy region press office issues a list of towns and villages that are in complete lockdown. Around 100,000 people are affected by the travel restrictions.
Algeria reports its first case of COVID-19 — an Italian adult, who arrived in the country on Feb. 17. This is the second confirmed case on the African continent.
Switzerland, Croatia, and Austria report their first cases.

February 26

Trump Press Brief: We have, through some very good early decisions — decisions that were actually ridiculed at the beginning — we closed up our borders to flights coming in from certain areas, areas that were hit by the coronavirus and hit pretty hard. […] Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low. […] As they get better, we take them off the list, so that we’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time.”
Trump Press Brief: “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, announced: “We expect we will see community spread in this country […] It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”
President Trump told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta he’s not worried about spread of coronavirus in the U.S.
Trump Tweet: “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”
Brazil confirms its first case of COVID-19, the first case in South America.
Greece, Georgia, North Macedonia, Norway, Romania and Pakistan report their first cases of COVID-19.
Coronavirus has been confirmed on every continent except Antarctica.

February 27

Trump Press Brief: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will. With what we’re talking about now with the virus, we can’t do that. We have to do it differently. […] If we were doing a bad job, we should also be criticized. But we have done an incredible job.”
Sen Richard Burr (R-NC) gave dozens of VIP guests representing companies and organizations from North Carolina a dire preview of the coronavirus economic impact: “It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history … It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” He warned companies might have to curtail their employees’ travel, schools could close and the military might be mobilized to compensate overwhelmed hospitals.
CDC reported the first case of community transmission in the US, meaning there was no known link to any travel.
WHO increased its assessment of the global risk of the outbreak to “very high.”
Denmark, Estonia, San Marino, and the Netherlands report their first cases of COVID-19.

February 28

Trump campaign rally in South Carolina.: The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” […] They tried the impeachment hoax that was on a perfect conversation,” “This is their new hoax,” “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” […] You wonder if the press is in hysteria mode.
The earliest documented person-to-person transmission within the UK appears.
Amidst claims of a cover-up of the extent of the outbreak in Iran, more than ten countries trace their cases back to Iran indicating that the extent of the outbreak may be more severe than the 388 cases reported.

February 29

U.S. reports first death on American soil.
Trump Press Brief: “At this moment, we have 22 patients in the United States currently that have coronavirus. Unfortunately, one person passed away overnight. […] 15 are either recovered fully or they’re well on their way to recovery. […] “As an important part of our efforts, on Monday, I’ll be meeting with the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world […] Tremendous amounts of supplies are already on hand. We have 43 million masks […] a lot more are coming.”
Ecuador, Qatar, Monaco, and Luxembourg report their first cases of COVID-19.

March 2020

March 1

Czech Republic, Iceland, and Armenia report their first cases of COVID-19.
The Dominican Republic also reports the first confirmed case of COVID-19 — a 62-year-old Italian man who arrived in the country on Feb. 22. First confirmed case in the Caribbean.

March 2

Trump Press Brief: “You know, three, four weeks ago, I said, “Well, how many people die a year from the flu?” And, in this country, I think last year was 36- or 37,000 people. And I’m saying, “Wow, nobody knew that information.”
Indonesia, Senegal, Portugal, Andora, Latvia, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia report their first cases of COVID-19.
Over the past 24 hours, there were nearly nine times more new cases reported outside China than within China.

March 3

U.S. CDC issues new guidance that allows anyone to be tested for the virus without restriction.
The U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates by half a percentage point to give the US economy a jolt in the face of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. It was the first unscheduled, emergency rate cut since 2008.
Stocks went on a wild ride after the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates. The Dow (INDU) swung nearly 1,400 points from its low to its high point finishing down 786 points.
Coronavirus cases begin to sharply increase in Spain, marking the start of its outbreak.
Ukraine, Argentina, and Chile report their first cases of COVID-19.

March 4

Trump interview with Fox News Hannity: “Now, this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this and it is very mild… So if, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work […] when you do have a death […] all of a sudden it seems like 3 or 4 percent, which is a very high number, as opposed to a fraction of 1 percent.”
Trump Airline CEO Brief: “I just want to add, if I might — and to go a little bit further — the Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing. And we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion.”
Poland reports its first case of COVID-19.

March 5

US Congress passes an $8.3 Billion spending package to fight and treat the Coronavirus. The bulk of funding is designated to agencies responsible for prevention and care.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, South Africa, and Palestine report their first cases of COVID-19.

March 6

Trump Press Brief, CDC: “Anybody that wants a test can get a test, anybody right now and yesterday — anybody that needs a test gets a test. We — they’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.”
The vice president’s office explained that tests were available through state labs, but that doctors needed to contact the state lab to get one. If someone wants a test, and a physician does not agree, a person cannot be tested.
Larry Kudlow, Director of the United States National Economic Council, said the coronavirus “is contained.
The US. Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, stated the virus “is being contained.”
Slovakia, Bhutan, Peru, Costa Rica, Columbia, Cameroon, and Togo report their first cases of COVID-19.

March 7

Trump Press Brief, CDC: “You know, my uncle was a great person. He was at MIT. He taught at MIT for, I think, like a record number of years. He was a great super genius. Dr. John Trump. I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, “How do you know so much about this?” Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for President.”
Malta, Moldova, Paraguay, and the Maldives report their first cases of COVID-19.

March 8

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signs a decree placing travel restrictions on the entire Lombardy region and 14 other provinces, restricting the movements of more than 10 million people in the northern part of the country.
Bulgaria and Bangladesh report their first cases of COVID-19.
Over 100 countries have reported COVID-19 infections.

March 9

Trump Tweet: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
The U.S. has 565 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Global markets are plunging after the implosion of an alliance between OPEC and Russia caused the worst one-day crash in crude prices in nearly 30 years, fueling panic triggered by the escalation of the coronavirus epidemic.
Italian Prime Minister Conte announces that the whole country of Italy is on lockdown.
Albania, Cyprus, Burkina Faso, and Panama report their first cases of COVID-19.

March 10

Trump Press Brief: “I think the U.S. has done a very good job on testing. We had to change things that were done, that were nobody’s fault. Perhaps they wanted to do something a different way, but it was a much slower process from a previous administration. […] It’s gone really well. […] I see it — it’s over 100 different countries […] Just stay calm. It will go away. We want to protect our shipping industry, our cruise industry, cruise ships. We want to protect our airline industry — very important […] And a lot of good things are going to happen. The consumer is ready, and the consumer is so powerful in our country with what we’ve done with tax cuts and regulation cuts and all of those things.”
Brunei Darussalam, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Jamaica, and Mongolia report their first cases of COVID-19.

March 11

Trump evening White House speech: Announces European entry restrictions beginning Friday March 13 at midnight, “will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo but various other things” and will cover “anything coming from Europe to the United States.” Trump announces health insurance companies will extend coverage to coronavirus treatment and waive all coronavirus-related copayments. Travel between the US and UK exempted from travel ban. The ban applies to foreign nationals of 26 countries in the Schengen Area, not American citizens or permanent residents who’ll be screened before entering the U.S.
Insurance company spokesperson for the major insurance lobby AHIP disputes treatment coverage “For testing. Not for treatment.”
Stock market futures tumbled during Trump’s speech.
Turkey, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Guyana, Honduras, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines confirm their first cases of COVID-19.

March 12

Bedlam at European airports as Americans abroad attempt to fly home.
US stock markets suffer worse one-day crash since 1987. Second time in one week a 15-minute pause in trading was triggered to stop a panic.
The US has 1,323 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 38 deaths.
Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, and Gabon confirm their first cases of COVID-19.

March 13

Trump said Friday he was declaring a national emergency — “two very big words” — freeing up $50 billion to combat coronavirus even as he refused to take personal responsibility for administration failures early in the outbreak.
Travel restrictions between the US and Europe start at midnight.
U.S. Government publishes “PanCAP Adapted U . S. Government COVID – 19 Response Plan,” warning policymakers that the coronavirus pandemic “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves,” resulting in widespread shortages that would strain consumers and the nation’s health care system. This report is not released to the public.
Kazakhstan, Sudan, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Uruguay, Guatemala, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Mauritania confirm their first cases of COVID-19.

March 14

Namibia, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Seychelles, and Eswatini confirm first cases of COVID-19.

March 16

UK Imperial College Study Publishes “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand.” Predicts as many as 2.2 million deaths in the U.S.

March 17

Trump Press Brief: states he has believed the coronavirus outbreak was “a pandemic, long before it was called a pandemic.”
The U.S. media leaks “PanCAP Adapted U . S. Government COVID – 19 Response Plan” to the public.
West Virginia reports its first COVID-19 case, meaning the disease is now present in all 50 states.

March 18

Trump Tweet: “I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the “borders” from China – against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!”
US Senate passes $100 billion “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” the second coronavirus relief package, and immediately start working on a third package.

March 19

China reports no new locally spread infections for the first time since the pandemic began.

March 20

New York state reports that more than 15,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and account for roughly half of the infections in the U.S. The vast majority are in the New York City region, which New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio calls the “the epicenter of this crisis,” warning that the outbreak will get worse as supplies dwindle.

March 21

3.3 million US workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 21 according to the Department of Labor — a new historic high.

March 23

New York City confirms 21,000 cases, making it the biggest epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.
Bao-Ping Zhu, a Chinese-American who was the resident adviser to the US Field Epidemiology Training Program in China from 2007 to 2011, publicly commented on the closure of the resident adviser program in July 2019: “It was heartbreaking to watch. If someone had been there, public health officials and governments across the world could have moved much faster.”

March 24

Japan postpones the 2020 Summer Olympics, which were originally slated to be held in Tokyo starting July 24, until summer 2021.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces a total 21 day ban on the country’s 1.3 billion citizens leaving their homes, to stop spread of COVID-19.

March 27

President Trump Signs the $2 Trillion CARES Act, the third Coronavirus Rescue Package Into Law. This is the third aid package from Congress this month to address the growing pandemic.
Chinese scientists reported that as many as 10% of Wuhan patients who recovered from COVID-19 and initially tested negative, tested positive again.
UNESCO reports nearly 90 percent of the world’s student population is out of class due to coronavirus-related school closures.

March 28

The number of people in the U.S. testing positive for the coronavirus rises above 200,000, and government measures to contain the epidemic includes shutting down increasing swaths of the U.S. economy. Residents in 37 states are now ordered to stay at home.
6.6 million US workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28, according to the Department of Labor — a new historic high since one week earlier.
Health officials in Illinois, U.S., announce the death of a baby from COVID-19. This is the first death of an infant in the country.
Spain and Italy hit new records for the number of dead in one day. Spain records 832 dead and Italy records 889.

March 29

The U.S. has overtaken China and Italy to have the highest number of confirmed cases in the world. at least 81,321 people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus, including more than 1,000 deaths — more cases than China, Italy or any other country.
More than 1,002,000 cases have been reported worldwide; more than 51,400 people have died and more than 208,000 have recovered.

March 30

Botswana reports their first cases of COVID-19.

March 31

Trump Press Brief: Trump warns of ‘painful’ two weeks ahead as the White House projects more than 100,000 American coronavirus deaths. Trump announces another 30 days of social distancing is necessary to avert disaster.
Trump Press Brief: Trump accused New York of getting off to a “very late start” in fighting the virus — implicitly contrasting New York’s leaders with himself.
The U.S. government places a moratorium on USAID’s global shipments of personal protective gear, asking it be sent to the U.S. American health care workers are complaining of severe shortages of masks, goggles and gloves amid a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases, and Democrats are ripping the administration for shipping aid to other countries while vastly underestimating America’s own needs.
Roughly 80% of all Americans are under lockdown as 35 states issue stay-at-home orders.
More than one-third of humanity is under some form of lockdown.
Burundi and Sierra Leone report their first cases of COVID-19.

April 2020

April 1

Globally, authorities report almost 922,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 656,000 being active and ongoing cases, roughly 193,000 recoveries, and 46,000 deaths.

April 2

After 20 asylum-seekers test positive for COVID-19, Greece quarantines a migrant camp.
A handful of cases have been reported in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is still recovering from the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Working Notes

For my loyal readers who made it all the way through this timeline, I have a special bonus feature. I’ve included my working notes of events and reference links freely available under a creative commons license. It’s my hope that other people might find my work useful as a start for adding or otherwise expanding this timeline with additional references. Please feel free to download and use as desired, and post your timeline in your blog or other media.

Ron Charest

April 5, 2020: Formatting changed from a central timeline to a right-side timeline layout, to improve readability. I’m still learning how to use many of these advanced website-building tools.

May 20, 2020 Editor Note: I’ve just posted a newer and more complete edition of a Coronavirus timeline COVID-19 Timeline Project. It provides more complete timeline information and extends past the ending point of this timeline. This newer timeline will be maintained current for at least the next several months.

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