400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus

By Emiene Wright

January 21, 2021

It’s been one year since the first case of COVID was documented in the US. To understand how we got here, COURIER has compiled a list of vital dates over the past 12 months.

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the first coronavirus patient in the United States, a man in Washington state. Since then, the virus has infected more than 24 million people and killed 406,000. 

To understand how we got here, COURIER has compiled a list of vital dates over the past 12 months.

Jan. 21, 2020

The United States announces its first confirmed coronavirus case, a man in Washington state. A week later, another man in his 50s from the state becomes the first US casualty.

Jan. 30, 2020

The World Health Organization declares the outbreak a global public health emergency. More than 9,000 cases are reported worldwide.

Jan. 31, 2020

WHO issues a Global Health Emergency. The US declares a public health emergency three days later.

Feb. 2 , 2020

The US and other governments place restrictions on international air travel, requiring travelers to undergo health screenings and denying entrance to some foreign nationals coming from certain parts of China. 

Feb. 24, 2020

The US stock market goes in freefall over coronavirus fears, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average experiences its worst day in two years.

March 6, 2020

President Trump signs an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat the coronavirus outbreak, as the number of global cases hit 100,000.

400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus
Donald Trump during a coronavirus briefing. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

March 8, 2020

Confirmed cases in the US top 500.

March 11, 2020

The World Health Organization officially declares the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, voices worries about “the alarming levels of inaction” from world governments at a briefing in Geneva.

March 11, 2020

The NBA suspends all basketball games after a player for the Utah Jazz preliminarily tests positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The next day, the MLB cancels spring training and the NHL announces it will suspend the start of its season.

March 11, 2020

President Donald Trump rolls out a new restriction on foreign travelers from 26 countries in Europe, with exceptions for Ireland and the United Kingdom.

March 12, 2020

The Dow Jones plunged 2,352 points, or 10%—the steepest drop since Oct. 19, 1987.

March 13, 2020

Trump declares a national state of emergency in order to free up $50 billion to fight the pandemic.

March 13, 2020

States across the US, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, announce plans to close schools to curb the spread of coronavirus. Within the week, 29 more states also announce closures.

March 15, 2020

The number of confirmed cases in the US surpasses 3,000, with epicenters in New York, California, and Washington state. The national death toll jumps to 61.

March 15, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases guidelines recommending in-person events of 50 people or more be canceled or postponed.

400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus
A sign by the National Park Service warns people to stay 6 feet away from each other and follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Image by Shutterstock)

March 16, 2020

San Francisco is the first city in the US to introduce strict restrictions, such as curfews and prohibiting residents from leaving their homes except for essential needs. 

March 16, 2020

The White House’s coronavirus task force advises Americans to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, to avoid going to bars and restaurants and to halt unessential travel. 

March 16, 2020

US researchers administer the first shot in a test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine. Due to necessary trial phases, a vaccine will not be widely available for eight more months.

400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus
A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller, left, the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

March 18, 2020

President Trump signs Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The aid bill provides free coronavirus testing and ensures paid emergency leave for those infected or caring for a family member with the illness, while also supplementing existing Medicaid funding, food assistance, and unemployment benefits.

March 19, 2020

California issues a statewide stay-at-home order for the state’s 40 million residents. The next day coronavirus cases in the state exceed 1,000, having doubled in only three days. Other states follow with their own stay-home orders, including New Jersey, Ohio, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington, West Virginia, Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, Idaho, and Minnesota. 

March 20, 2020

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sinks by 916 points and the S&P 500 closes the day down 4.3%, its worst weekly performance since the 2008 financial crisis.

March 21, 2020

New York is officially the hardest-hit state in the US, with more than 10,000 coronavirus cases.

400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus
Times Square, New York. March 24, 2020. (Image via Shutterstock)

March 22, 2020

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky becomes the first senator to test positive for coronavirus.

March 26, 2020

The House and Senate pass the CARES Act, which President Trump signed into law the following day. The $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill provides aid to hospitals, small businesses, and state and local governments.

March 27, 2020

Coronavirus cases in the US surpass 100,000, the most in the world. More than 1,500 deaths are reported nationwide.

April 2, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor releases a report showing a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits the previous week.

April 3, 2020

The White House and the CDC recommend Americans wear cloth face coverings in public to prevent the spread of the virus. The president does not comply publicly for months.

400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus
President Donald Trump listens as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

April 7, 2020 

Approximately 95% of all Americans are living under lockdown, as 42 states issue stay-at-home orders.

April 10, 2020 

The global death toll passes 100,000.

May 27, 2020 

US COVID-19 deaths pass the 100,000 mark.

July 7, 2020 

The same day that the US reports 3 million COVID-19 infections, the nation begins withdrawing from WHO, as the White House cites the organization’s response to the global pandemic. 

July 15, 2020

Hospitals are told to bypass the CDC and submit COVID-related information to a central database run by the Department of Health and Human Services, heightening concerns that the president and White House administration are politicizing the science in attempts to minimize bad press. 

Aug. 4, 2020 

Rural and low-income hotspots struggle with dearth of intensive care unit beds. Almost five months after the pandemic was declared a national emergency, 49% of low-income areas have no free ICU beds. 

400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus
A nurse makes a note on the window of a coronavirus (COVID-19) patient’s room in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at El Centro Regional Medical Center in hard-hit Imperial County on July 28, 2020 in El Centro, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Aug. 17, 2020

COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease and cancer.

Sept. 1, 2020

US refuses to participate in an international WHO initiative to develop, make, and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Sept. 16, 2020

The Trump administration releases a distribution plan for January 2021 that should provide free vaccinations to all Americans. 

Sept. 22, 2020

US deaths from COVID-19 pass 200,000.

400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus
Mark Urquiza was 65 years old when he died on June 30, 2020, from COVID-19. (Image via Kristin Urquiza)

Sept. 23, 2020 

A new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 is discovered in a large portion of recent patient samples during a study at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Sept. 28, 2020
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 1 million.

Oct. 2, 2020

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump test positive for COVID-19. Trump is hospitalized but discharged from Walter Reed Memorial within days after receiving an elite drug cocktail unavailable to most Americans.

Oct. 8, 2020

A White House Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is the epicenter of a COVID-19 outbreak that affects at least 34 people, including several staff members.

400,000 Deaths and Rising: A Timeline of America’s Fight Against Coronavirus
In this Oct. 27, 2020, Artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg walks among thousands of white flags planted in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19 near Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Nov. 4, 2020

US reports a dismal high of 100,000 new cases in one day.

Nov. 20, 2020 

CDC warns Americans against traveling or attending traditional gatherings for the Thanksgiving holidays, warning another surge in infections during flu season could be deadlier than the previous wave. Millions travel anyway. 

Dec. 11, 2020

FDA greenlights an emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and, a week later, Moderna.

Dec. 14, 2020

The COVID death toll reaches 300,000.

Dec. 31, 2020

US falls short of Trump’s goal to deliver 20 million vaccinations by the end of the year. According to the CDC, only about 2.8 million people received an initial vaccination by this date. 

Black patient waiting in hallway of hospital during COVID-19 pandemic
A patient awaits treatment in the emergency room at Roseland Community Hospital on December 15, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Jan. 19, 2021

US COVID death toll crosses a once unthinkable milestone: 400,000.

READ MORE: A List of All the Ways the Trump Administration Failed Its COVID-19 Response


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