It’s time for Throwback Thursday! When did you first hear about COVID? How did you hear? Share your story below. We want to hear it!
One year later, it’s kind of tough to remember a time in our lives before COVID. We’re going to be coming up on a lot of 1-year-ago-today memories as this year unfolds.
As we pass so many one-year milestones in the pandemic, we’ll be taking some time to look back at the turning points last year when our “normal” lives suddenly became anything but.
Let’s revisit some key moments leading up to this time last year:
🟡 December 31, 2019: First reports of mystery illness in China to WHO
A mysterious pneumonia-like illness emerges in Wuhan, China. No one can confirm how it is spread. WHO begins investigations.
🟡 January 9, 2020: WHO suspects a novel coronavirus in China
The World Health Organization identifies nearly 60 cases of the new illness in Wuhan. WHO suggests it might be caused by a new coronavirus, but can’t confirm the route of transmission. Two days later, China announces its first death from the virus.
🟡 January 12: Chinese scientists complete viral genomic sequencing and make results public
A team of Chinese viral geneticists complete genomic sequencing of the virus isolated from a patient admitted to the hospital on December 26th. The team identifies the virus definitively as a close cousin of SARS. They make complete results and the viral genome public, allowing the rest of the world to begin producing PCR tests for the virus. Their results are later published in the journal Nature.
🟡 January 20, 2020: The United States starts screening airline passengers
Alarmed by increasing cases and deaths in China, plus 3 new cases elsewhere in Asia, the US initiates screening of international passengers arriving at JFK International, San Francisco International, and Los Angeles International airports.
🟡 January 21, 2020: First case of coronavirus confirmed in the United States
CDC confirms the first U.S. case of coronavirus in Washington State. The patient is a man in his thirties who has recently returned from a trip to Wuhan. CDC dispatches a team to investigate the case and initiate contact tracing. That same day, Dr. Zhong Nanshan in China confirms that the new virus can be transmitted from person to person.
🟡 January 23, 2020: Wuhan goes on lockdown
Wuhan, a city with over 11 million residents, becomes the first city in the world to require residents to stay at home. Over two dozen deaths have been confirmed and an additional 300 people are confirmed infected. Lunar New Year travel and celebrations are canceled for millions.
🟡 January 30, 2020: WHO declares a global health emergency
As cases in China grow exponentially, WHO declares a global health emergency for the sixth time in its history. Person-to-person transmission has now been confirmed in the United States, Germany, Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan. The U.S. State Department restricts travel from China, excluding immediate family members of American citizens or permanent residents. At this point, 213 people have died worldwide and 9800 have been confirmed infected.
🟡 February 2, 2020: First death outside of China
The first coronavirus death outside mainland China is reported, a 44-year-old man in the Philippines. Restrictions are placed on global air travel by Australia, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand.
🟡 February 7, 2020: Chinese whistleblower physician dies
Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, who treated many of the earliest patients in Wuhan, identified the virus as a relative of SARS and tried to raise the alarm about a dangerous threat to global health, but he had been forced by the Chinese government to sign a statement denouncing his warnings. On February 7th, he died of COVID-19.
🟡 February 11, 2020: The disease caused by the virus is named COVID-19
WHO announces that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus would be named COVID-19.
🟡 February 14, 2020: First coronavirus death in Europe
France announced that an 80-year-old Chinese tourist has become the first COVID-19 fatality in Europe as Italy, in particular, sees cases rise exponentially. Concern grows about undetected community spread of the disease grows in the United States.
🟡 On this day, February 18, 2020: Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers are returned home after weeks of quarantine
The Diamond Princess cruise ship saw some of the highest case density anywhere in the world, with all 3711 passengers and crew presumed exposed. There were 712 confirmed cases, nearly half of whom were asymptomatic when they tested positive. Among the symptomatic cases, 10% required intensive hospital care, and 9 died.
Just about *all* of our decent early information about COVID-19 epidemiology came from what happened on this and similar ships–from how it is transmitted to how dangerous it really is to age gradients in the risk. We honor those onboard, those who responded, and those who died as unsung heroes of the pandemic.
Dear Pandemic readers, were you aware of COVID-19 at this time last year? When and how did you first hear about it? Did you and your family begin taking any precautions? Please share your recollections–we want to hear about them and reflect together.