Press "Enter" to skip to content

COVID-19 Timeline Project

Prelude <> Nov/Dec 2019 <> January 2020 <> February <> March <> April <> May <> June <> July <> August <> September <> Source Data

January 2020

For January and beyond I’m creating a timeline block for each day. While some days may not actually have a Coronavirus-related event, this offers me the option of adding in new information at a later date.

In reviewing this month’s events, I observe the general trend is slowly dawning awareness around the world that we’re facing a serious medical issue. Some countries were quicker to take preventive measures than others. For the United States, there’s considerable evidence President Trump and select members of Congress were receiving periodic intelligence briefings on the Coronavirus situation.


During this month, and the following month of February, President Trump will receive periodic intelligence briefings which trace the spread of the virus, China’s actions in suppressing information, and “raise the prospect of dire political and economic consequences” if the virus spread to the United States. These briefings were presented by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence through the daily report.
A congressional report (published May 13, 2020) details the coronavirus timeline of events of December 2019 to January 2020, including China, the WHO, and US personnel.
Starting January 1 and continuing through March 11, 24 countries including South Korea and Germany ban exports of health care products in a bid to shore up their domestic supply, in anticipation of a potential pandemic.
Number of Countries with Reported Cases: 1

January 1

Wuhan, China, Public Security Bureau summoned eight doctors for posting and spreading “rumors” about Wuhan hospitals receiving SARS-like cases — detentions that were reported on “Xinwen Lianbo,” a newscast watched by tens of millions. Speculation about a SARS-like virus was rampant within medical circles, but the detentions dissuaded many medical professionals from speaking openly about it.
A Chinese official of the Hubei Provincial Health Commission orders a medical lab to stop testing samples from Wuhan related to the new disease and destroy all existing samples.
Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, in Wuhan, China, suspected of being the disease source, is closed.
Countries: 1

January 2

Chinese researchers map the new coronavirus’ complete genetic information. This information is not made public until January 9.
Countries: 1

January 3

China reports a total of 44 patients suspected patients with the mystery disease to WHO.
China’s National Health Commission, the nation’s top health authority, orders institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease, and orders labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions, or to destroy them.
Icon - reference linkInformation concerning the virus appears in the President’s daily intelligence briefing for the first time. Officials said it wasn’t clear how closely President Trump read the briefing. No immediate action was taken.
Countries: 1

January 4

A study led by researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine January 29, reveals long delays for patients to get admitted to hospitals, which led to difficulties in identifying and isolating cases earlier in their illness.
Countries: 1

January 5

Professor Zhang Yongzhen of Fudan University in Shanghai receives biological samples of the new disease packed in dry ice, in metal boxes and shipped by rail from Wuhan Central Hospital for testing. His team also identifies the new, SARS-like coronavirus through using high-throughput sequencing.
Countries: 1

January 6

Prof Zhang reported his findings to the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission as well as China’s National Health Commission, warning that the new virus was like Sars, and was being transmitted through the respiratory route. This sparked a secondary emergency response within the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Icon - reference linkThe US CDC issues a Level 1 travel notice for Wuhan, amid fears that the virus was spreading beyond its origin.
Countries: 1

January 7

Chinese researchers identify the mystery disease as a new (novel) coronavirus as cause of the outbreak.
The CDC under Dr. Robert Redfield creates an “incident management system” for the coronavirus and advises travelers to Wuhan to take precautions.
Countries: 1

January 7 – 10

More than 170,000 people attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, a four-day event that attracts technology professionals from around the world. Eleven vendors from Wuhan were present. The CDC refers to this as a “Super-spreader Event,” and after-the fact analysis indicates this event may have been responsible for an early spread of the 2019-nCoV virus throughout the world.

January 8

The CDC alerts clinicians to be on the look-out for patients with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to Wuhan, China.
Countries: 1

January 9

China reports their first death linked to the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV; A 61-year-old male admitted to hospital in Wuhan with several underlying medical conditions.
An expert team led by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention makes a preliminary conclusion that the new disease is caused by a new strain of coronavirus.
Countries: 1

January 10

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, ends.
Countries: 1

January 11

A team run by Professor Zhang Yongzhen of Fudan University in Shanghai became the first to publish the genome sequence of the new virus on public databases and GenBank, unveiling its structure to the world for the first time.
Countries: 1

January 11 – 17

An important Communist Party conclave meets in Wuhan. During this time, on each day the Wuhan Health Commission claims there were no new infections or deaths.

January 12

The Chinese National Health Commission shares Professor Yongzhen’s virus genomic information with the World Health Organisation.
Countries: 1

January 13

An article (published December 7, 2020) reveals that what became the most promising vaccine, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, which reported a 94.5 percent efficacy rate, is effectively designed. The Moderna vaccine design took all of one weekend in Moderna’s Massachusetts lab. From this date until an EUA was issued by the FDA Dec 18, 2020, the vaccine is in test phase.
Countries: 2


Over a dozen American officials at the WHO, who are working on 2019-nCoV, raise an alarm to President Trump’s administration of the potential danger of a new pandemic.

January 14

The WHO announces that based upon preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities, no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been identified.
Countries: 2

January 15

The first U.S. patient with confirmed 2019-nCoV infection returns to the United States from Wuhan.
The White House hosts a Chinese delegation for the signing ceremony of President Trump’s trade deal. More than 200 people are invited to the White House to witness the signing, including members of the Cabinet and American business leaders. None of the Chinese delegates who attend are tested for the virus, and none of the guests, crammed elbow-to-elbow, wear masks.
Countries: 3

January 16

Articles of Impeachment against President Trump are submitted to the Senate, initiating a senate trial to determine if President Trump should be removed from office.
Countries: 3

January 17

The CDC begins implementing public health entry screening at San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports. Later this week the CDC adds entry health screening at two more airports – Atlanta (ATL) and Chicago (ORD).
The Chinese Communist Party conclave in Wuhan ends.
The WHO publishes a protocol from German researchers with the instructions necessary for any country to manufacture coronavirus tests. A top US health official states the CDC has developed an early version of its own test and will not rely on any protocols published by the WHO. No discussions occurred between WHO and the CDC about providing tests to the United States.
Countries: 3

January 18

At 10 minutes after midnight the Wuhan Health Commission announces the existence of four new infections. Chinese officials continue to downplay the risk of human-to-human transmission of 2019-nCoV.
40,000 families in a Wuhan community gather to share their home-cooked food in a Lunar New Year banquet. The Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang explains that the annual event was given the greenlight despite the risks involved, as the decision was made “based on the judgment that human-to-human transmission was limited”.
Countries: 3

January 19

Countries: 3

January 20

The WHO confirms Human-to-Human transmission of 2019-nCoV.
Global Cases: 282 | Global Deaths: 6 | Countries: 4

January 21

China confirmed 291 cases of 2019-nCoV infection, including 270 in Hubei. Mayor Zhou also reveals that six Wuhan residents have died after catching the virus.
Aware of widespread skepticism, Beijing moves to assure the international community and the public that it will not tolerate any cover up or withholding of sensitive information about the outbreak. The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission – Beijing’s top political body responsible for law and order – publishes a social media commentary telling Communist Party officials not to forget the painful lessons of SARS, and to ensure timely reporting of the current 2019-nCoV situation.
The CDC confirms the first case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the United States in the state of Washington. The CDC acknowledges there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening.
Global Cases: 314 | Global Deaths: 6 | 4 Countries:

January 22

Michael Bowen, owner of medical supply company “Prestige Ameritech,” sends an email to top administrators in the Department of Health and Human Services offering to revive four machines and increase production of an additional 1.7 million N95 masks a week specifically for the federal government stockpile. His company was already seeing an increase in orders from all over the world. But communications over the next several days with senior agency officials – including Dr. Robert Kadlec – left Bowen with the clear impression that there was little immediate interest in his offer.
In an interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Trump states he trusts the information coming out of China on the coronavirus. “We have it totally under control,” he said of the virus spread in the U.S. “It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
Dr. Tom Frieden publishes an editorial asking three key questions about the novel coronavirus outbreak. He ends his editorial with “The new virus is likely to continue spreading and be recognized more, and in more countries, in the coming days and weeks.
No Data Reported

January 23

The Chinese city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is placed in lock down. Mayor Zhou takes responsibility for the delay in reporting the scale of the epidemic, but said he was hampered by the national law on infectious diseases. He explained that Chinese law allows provincial governments to declare an epidemic only after receiving central government approval.
With Chinese New Year celebrations approaching, approximately 5 million people leave the city before it is locked down, without being screened for the illness.
Later this day, the city of Ezhou is locked down. Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau cancels plans for Chinese New Year festivities and closes the Forbidden City.
The WHO Situational Report Three (SITREP 3) assesses the risk of 2019-nCoV to be very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the
global level.
Dr. Rick Bright meets with Mr. Alex Azar and Dr. Robert Kadlec to press “for urgent access to funding, personnel and clinical specimens, including viruses,” that would be necessary to develop treatments. But Mr. Azar and Dr. Kadlec “asserted that the United States would be able to contain the virus” through travel bans. Dr. Bright would be cut out of future department meetings related to Covid-19.
Global Cases: 581 | Global Deaths: 16| Countries: 7

January 24

Another Chinese city, Huanggang, goes into lock down.
The WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom announces his decision not to declare 2019-nCoV a public health emergency of international concern. He states “I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today. Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”
President Trump Tweets: “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, who sits on the Senate Health Committee, begins stock trades worth over $18.7 million the same day her committee held a private all-members session on Covid-19, shortly before the general public was alerted to the severity of the Covid-19 crisis. Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chair of the New York Stock Exchange and chair and CEO of its holding company, Intercontinental Exchange.
Global Cases: 846 | Global Deaths: 25| Countries: 7

January 24 – 30

China celebrates the Lunar New Year in a seven day holiday, welcoming the Year of the Rat.

January 25

Global Cases: 1,320 | Global Deaths: 41| Countries: 10

January 26

Global Cases: 2,014 | Global Deaths: 56| Countries: 11

January 27

Chinese officials extend the New Year holiday to keep people at home, in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The end of the holiday has been pushed back from January 30 to February 2 to “reduce mass gatherings” and “block the spread of the epidemic.” In Shanghai, a city of 25 million people, the government extended the holiday for an additional week. It also ordered sports events and religious gatherings to close.
Icon - reference linkFormer VP Joe Biden publishes an OpEd discussing the possibility of an imminent pandemic, and strongly criticizes President Trumps abilities to prepare for one.
Global Cases: 2,798 | Global Deaths: 80| Countries: 11

January 28

Icon - Audio Information Link President Trump receives a top secret intelligence briefing from national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who gave Trump a “jarring” warning about the virus, telling the President it would be the “biggest national security threat” of his presidency. O’Brien’s deputy, Matt Pottinger, concurred, telling Trump it could be as bad as the influenza pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans.
An elite group of U.S. infectious disease doctors and medical experts in the federal government and academic institutions around the nation, hosted by the chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Duane C. Caneva, initiated an email discussion thread nick-named “Red Dawn” (from the 1984 film of same name), discussing the Coronavirus. The first published email commented on the WHO and CDC seemingly behind the curve on pandemic preparations. One of the first emails includes this statement:

“Great Understatements in History:
Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow – “just a little stroll gone bad”
Pompeii – “a bit of a dust storm”
Hiroshima – “summer heat wave”
Wuhan- “bad flu season””

President Trump retweets a headline from OAN, an outlet with a history of spreading false conspiracy theories: “Johnson & Johnson to create coronavirus vaccine.” There was no Coronavirus vaccine being created by Johnson & Johnson.
Global Cases: 4,593 | Global Deaths: 106| Countries: 14

January 29

Peter Navarro warns Trump administration officials in a memo that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death. He wrote in part: “The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil. This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”
State of Emergency Declared: American Samoa, North Mariana Islands
Global Cases: 6,65 | Global Deaths: 132| Countries: 15

January 30

The WHO declares the Covid-19 outbreak meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
During a speech, President Trump states of the Coronavirus; it would have “a very good ending for us […] that I can assure you. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as some people think it could be. […] We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five — and those people are all recuperating successfully […] But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for us … that I can assure you.”
President Trump creates a new task force to lead the government’s response to the fast-spreading coronavirus. The twelve member group is led by Alex Azar and coordinated through the National Security Council. Key members of the group include National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Dr. Robert Redfield, and Dr. Anthony Fauci
Global Cases: 7,818 | Global Deaths: 170| Countries: 18

January 31

Alex Azar announces the Trump administration would bar entry by most foreign nationals who had recently visited China and put some American travelers under a quarantine. This ban does not apply to Americans or legal resident aliens. The travel ban takes effect February 2.
Alex Azar declares a public health emergency, which unlocks special funding and waivers selected medical rules.
The S&P 500 suffers its worst loss since October, falling 1.8 percent, as the spread of the virus — and the increasingly urgent efforts by companies and governments to contain it — fanned fears of an economic slowdown.

Global Cases: 9,826 | Global Deaths: 213| Countries: 19

Contact Us

Icon Symbols

Meaning of icons used in the main timeline narrative. All icons are linked to the source reference:
General Information
Continuation of previous information, with a different reference
State-of-Emergency or Stay-At-Home Declared or Rescinded
Video Icon Provides a video clip
Provides a pop-up information window
– Move your mouse over a boldened acronym, name, or term, used in this timeline for an explanation
Icon Document Download Link for a Download File

Trump Twitter Links Defunct

This timeline cites a number of Twitter Tweets including those of then-President Trump. On January 8, 2021, Twitter deactivated President Trump’s Twitter account. This caused the citation links to become inactive.

Timeline Source Data Files

I built this timeline from a set of working notes in spreadsheet format. At present, my working notes have 1247 news entries, in addition to other references that form my “Additional Reading” sidebar entries, and other source references. Not all these news items are published in this timeline, for various reasons. My notes are freely available under a Creative Commons license (BY SA) to any writer or researcher who finds this work useful.
Icon Document Download
Download File

January Timeline Events

Global Coronavirus Spread

First reported confirmed cases per country

January 13

Thailand – a 61-year-old Chinese woman and resident of Wuhan. She had not visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, but was noted to have been to other markets.

January 16

Japan – Japanese medical surveillance confirmed its first case of the virus in a resident of Kanagawa Prefecture who had returned from Wuhan.

January 20

South Korea – a 35-year-old Chinese woman.

January 21

United States – a man who returned on January 15 from visiting family in Wuhan, China, to his home in Snohomish County, Washington.

January 22

North Korea – closed the border to foreign tourists. Officially, there are no Coronavirus cases, though foreign analysts believe that the virus has spread to the country.

January 23

Singapore – a tourist from Wuhan.
Vietnam – first two cases; a Chinese man (#1) travelling from Wuhan to Hanoi to visit his son who lived in Vietnam, and his son (#2), who was believed to have contracted the disease from his father.

January 24

France – the first COVID-19 case in Europe was confirmed in Bordeaux; a 48-year-old French citizen from China, who arrived in France on 22 January.
Nepal – a 32-year-old man who had recently returned from China, in Kathmandu District.

January 25

Malaysia – detected on travelers from China arriving via Singapore.
Australia – in Victoria, when a man who had returned from Wuhan, China, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

January 27

Canada – the disease was confirmed when a man who had returned to Toronto from Wuhan, Hubei, China, tested positive.
Cambodia – confirmed in Sihanoukville on a 60-year-old Chinese man who arrived from Wuhan, Hubei with his family. Three other members of his family were placed under quarantine but they did not appear to have symptoms.
Germany – the first case was confirmed and contained near Munich, Bavaria, with a man from an automobile-parts manufacturer.
Sri Lanka – the first confirmed case of the virus was a 44-year-old Chinese woman from Hubei Province in China. She had arrived as a tourist with a group of travelers and screened at the Bandaranaike International Airport after reporting a high fever.

January 29

United Arab Emirates – a 73-year-old Chinese woman who came to the country on holiday with her family of four from Wuhan. The family arrived in the Emirates on 16 January and took one member to a doctor with flu-like symptoms on 23 January, where it was discovered that the family was infected.
Finland – a female Chinese tourist visiting Ivalo from Wuhan tested positive for the virus.

January 30

Philippines – a 38-year-old Chinese woman who was confined in the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
Italy – confirmed in a Chinese couple, originally from Wuhan, who had arrived in Italy on 23 January via Milan Malpensa Airport, traveled from the airport to Verona, then to Parma, arriving in Rome on 28 January.
India – its first case of COVID-19 was in Kerala, which rose to three cases by 3 February; all were students who had returned from Wuhan, China.

January 31

Spain – a German tourist tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in La Gomera, Canary Islands.
Russia – two Chinese tourists in Tyumen, Siberia and Chita, Russian Far East tested positive for the virus, with both cases being contained.
United Kingdom – two members of a family of Chinese nationals staying in a hotel in York, one of whom studied at the University of York.
Sweden – a woman returning from Wuhan tested positive.

globe with coronavirus spread
Commentary on Global Spread

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article

Published January 24 titled “Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China.” Linked to the Lancet article as this is under copyright protections.
Icon Document Download

Red Dawn Emails

The New York Times has published the entire “Red Dawn” email chain. The chain starts January 28 and continues through mid-March. Although some emails are heavily redacted, much of the material is readable and shows an incredible awareness among senior policy makers of the impending impact of the Coronavirus and increasing frustration with our government’s inaction.
I’ve made the email chain available as part of this timeline.

Congressional Report

Details Coronavirus timeline events of December 2019 – January 2020
Icon Document Download
COVID-19 and China: A Chronology of Events (December 2019-January 2020)

Presidential Memo

Icon Document Download
Memo from Peter Navarro to President Trump of January 29, 2020, outlining his concerns the novel coronavirus could erupt into a major pandemic.

Additional Reading

This article lays out in great detail a chronology of what Trump said—and what he knew—in January and February. This timeline focuses on his relations with China during the two crucial months that seeded the epidemic in the United States.

Trump’s Lies About China and the Coronavirus

Prelude <> Nov/Dec 2019 <> January 2020 <> February <> March <> April <> May <> June <> July <> August <> September <> Source Data

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Pages ( 3 of 12 ): « Previous12 3 45 ... 12Next »
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *