This is my attempt at building a comprehensive timeline of events that describe the COVID-19 pandemic.
My goal for this project is to tell a story. As I start this project, I don’t know where the story is going, what subplots will develop, what characters will appear, develop, and maybe disappear. I certainly don’t know how this story is going to end. But I think it’s going to be a wild ride.
This is an America-centric timeline, but I’ve included key pandemic events from around to world to keep perspective that this truly is a global catastrophe, not just American.
A Living Document
Since the pandemic is a work in progress, this story is a work in progress. As new information becomes available I plan on incorporating it where it belongs on the timeline. So please come back often and see how this story grows. With luck, it may have a happy ending.
All source data in the form of an Excel spreadsheet is available at the end of this timeline under a creative commons license. Readers may freely download this and add to it. If you know of a key event that should be in this, please contact me and let me know. All references, cited in this timeline and linked to icons, can be found in the spreadsheet. My readers are invited to use the links and follow threads where ever they lead.
All events are placed in the timeline when they occur, not when they were “discovered” or otherwise made public. In some cases specific events were not publicized until months after the event occurred. I think that putting these event in proper context helps understand the overall history of how we got here.
This timeline will start several years prior to the first known appearance of the novel coronavirus. I believe this is necessary to create proper context for events during the actual pandemic.
President Obama requested funding from Congress to set up a public health infrastructure needed to deal with future pandemic outbreaks. But most funding requests to purchase protective equipment and train medical staff to prepare for future outbreaks were denied by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives that was filled with Tea Party-affiliated politicians.
January 1, 2017
January 6, 2017
January 13, 2017
Take-aways from this exercise included the critical nature of response times, and the need for medical countermeasure strategies.
February 1, 2018
May 7, 2018
March 12, 2019
The Council of Economic Advisers publish “Mitigating the Impact of Pandemic Influenza through Vaccine Innovation.” This report provides estimates of the potentially large health and economic losses in the United States associated with influenza pandemics.
A study by the Italian National Cancer Institute (INT) released November 16, 2020, indicates that the Coronavirus was circulating in Italy as early as September 2019. The data shows that 11.6% of 959 healthy volunteers developed coronavirus antibodies as revealed in a lung cancer screening trial conducted between September 2019 and March 2020. A further SARS-CoV-2 antibodies test was carried out by the University of Siena for the same research titled “Unexpected detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the pre-pandemic period in Italy”. It showed that four cases dating back to the first week of October were positive for antibodies, meaning they had got infected in September.
A team composed of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU) and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) releases the Global Health Security (GHS) Index report, the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries that make up the States Parties to the International Health Regulations (IHR ). Overall findings show no country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics. Collectively, international preparedness is weak. Many countries do not show evidence of the health security capacities and capabilities that are needed to prevent, detect, and respond to significant infectious disease outbreaks.
October 18 – 27
What We’re Fighting
In addition to downloadable files and sidebar text, I’ve also scattered popup windows throughout this timeline. These popup windows provide amplifying information on key events.
Popup Window Example
Meaning of icons used in the main timeline narrative:
Continuation of previous information, with a different reference
State-of-Emergency or Stay-At-Home Declared or Rescinded
Provides a video clip
Provides a pop-up information window
– Move your mouse over an acronym, name, or term, used in this timeline for an explanation
Link for a Download File
My Preamble and full disclosure of bias
No One Could Have Anticipated…
2006 – 2008
2009 / 2015
2012 / 2015 / 2020
The following downloads are original documents referenced in this section of timeline.
Global Health Security Index Building Collective Action and Accountability October 2019
Study hosted by the MedRxiv archives, published as a pre-print pending peer review by the Universiata de Barcelona, June 13, 2020, reports finding traces of novel coronavirus in Barcelona, Spain, wastewater sample of March 12, 2019. To date this is the earliest known presence of the novel coronavirus.
Study hosted by the Tumori Journal, conducted by the Italian National Cancer Institute (INT) and released November 16, 2020, which indicates that the Coronavirus was circulating in Italy as early as September 2019.
The following article offers exceptional insight into the years previous to the Coronavirus pandemic, showing the amount of preparation various government and non-government agencies put into response planning for future pandemics.
Meatpacking Companies Dismissed Years of Warnings but Now Say Nobody Could Have Prepared for COVID-19