Timeline of federal actions to end COVID-19

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Located in Washington D.C., the United States Capitol is home to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

As COVID-19 continues to prolong the reopening of the economic sector and stress the medical system in the United States, it is important to see the timeline that led to the rapid spread of the disease. The following timeline reflects the major decisions and activities that have occurred in the United States as of May 15.

January 17 – After observing warnings from whistleblowers and medical examiners in China, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) implemented screenings at five major U.S. airports: San Francisco International, John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Chicago O’Hare International. The screenings were not comprehensive, rather they only screened some of the incoming passengers that showed severe physical symptoms. (USA Today)

January 21 – The CDC confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States in Washington. The WHO considered the first case very “concerning” for the civilian population and sought federal funding for further laboratory research on the virus. (CDC, WHO)

January 24 – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made his first major appearance to comment about the risk of the COVID-19 virus. From examining the fatality of the virus alone, he stated that the risk to the United States and its infrastructure was low. (NBC News, COVID-19 Response Team)

January 30 – The WHO declared the COVID-19 virus a global health emergency and praised China for their rapid response of locking down three major cities near the origin of the outbreak in Wuhan. The U.S. also confirmed its first person-to-person transmission of the disease. (WHO, USA Today)

January 31 – Attending press conferences more frequently, President Trump and his advisory declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency. Cases in major Chinese cities surged to 12,000, with around 250 deaths. (USA Today, COVID-19 Response Team)

February 6 – The United States reported its first COVID-19 death, prompting the CDC and other organizations to advocate for widespread testing procedures. At the time, testing was only available to passengers returning from China and civilians with severe symptoms. (USA Today)

February 21 – Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told the press that the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States would probably become a pandemic. She warned that major federal laws have to pass in order to contain the virus. (CDC, USA Today)

February 26 – President Trump appointed Vice President Pence to lead the administration’s COVID-19 response team in cooperation with the WHO and their officials. Pence stated the risk to the American population was still relatively low. The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States rose to 15 after spreading in California and Washington. (NBC News)

March 6 – After the CDC released flawed and inaccurate testing kits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they would open emergency testing facilities across the country. Trump stated anyone could now receive a test if they were experiencing moderate or severe symptoms. (CDC, NY Times)

March 11 – President Trump announced a strict travel ban for all of Europe, excluding the United Kingdom and Ireland (which he added shortly after). The WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a world pandemic and the United States confirmed over 1,000 cases. (COVID-19 Response Team)

March 13 – President Trump declared a national emergency and allowed $50 billion to go towards relief programs and waved the green flag for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to rapidly set up testing facilities in urban areas. (COVID-19 Response Team, NY Times)

March 16 – The Trump Administration issued national guidelines to stay at home for 15 days to slow the spread of the virus. This prompted millions of businesses and organizations to keep their employees at home or suspend their wages. (COVID-19 Response Team, NY Times)

March 19 – The U.S. surpassed 10,000 cases. (USA Today)

March 26 – Passing China and Italy, the U.S., with a total of 83,550 cases, now had the highest number of confirmed cases. (USA Today)

March 27 – President Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress for families and affected individuals. The stimulus package ensured a check of at least $1,200 for individuals who earn $75,000 or less annually. Eligible families would also receive $500 monthly for each child. As economists saw the stock market spiral downward, many people were let go from their jobs, which led to accelerated unemployment rates. (COVID-19 Response Team, NY Times)

March 27 – The U.S. surpassed 100,000 cases. (USA Today)

March 28 – The CDC issued a travel advisory warning to all New York residents. Now the epicenter of the United States’ COVID-19 cases, New York City suffered a surge of new patients in their hospital systems. After seeing the accelerated rates of cases in the state, many speculators worried the healthcare system would become severely overwhelmed. (CDC)

April 1 – The U.S. surpassed 200,000 cases. (USA Today)

April 3 – After criticizing many medical professionals’ recommendations, the Trump Administration and CDC recommended the usage of face coverings, including homemade ones, in public. (COVID-19 Response Team, CDC)

April 10 – The deadliest day thus far in the U.S. with 2,000 COVID-19 deaths. Many members of the White House COVID-19 task force said the nation had yet to reach the peak level of cases. (USA Today)

April 16 – The Trump Administration issued new guidelines suggesting that states ease social distancing measures in hopes to completely reopen soon. This action contradicted some of the administration’s previous cooperations with the CDC and WHO. (COVID-19 Response Team, CDC)

April 20 – After fierce retaliation and protests in their states, the governors of Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee announced new guidelines that attempted to loosen social distancing measures by reopening small businesses and factories. (USA Today, NY Times)

April 26 – After examining more patients in the US, the WHO announced six new symptoms of COVID-19: chills, repeated shaking, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste and smell. (WHO)

April 28 – The U.S. surpassed one million cases. (USA Today)

May 1 – The WHO extended the declaration of COVID-19 as a global public health emergency. (WHO)

May 4 – The United States did not participate in funding laboratory research and vaccine development for COVID-19 after many members of the European Union, as well as Japan, India, Australia and Canada pledged over $8 billion in funds. The Trump Administration stated that they would be primarily focusing on their own population before turning to foreign aid. (NY Times, NBC News)

May 18 – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker laid out a plan for slowly reopening the state with four distinct phases. Phase 1 starts May 18 and allows places of worship to reopen in a very restricted manner. A week later, smaller businesses and organizations can slowly reopen, including hair salons, pet grooming and other retail stores. Phase 2 will begin reimplementing the MBTA system and opening retail stores, youth sports, summer programs and most hotels and restaurants. Phase 3 will reopen bars, gyms, casinos, museums and restaurants as long as the number of COVID-19 cases does not surge in the following weeks. Phase 4 will be the new normal if the number of cases continue to decrease. It will introduce normal living conditions for the majority of people in the state. The governor’s plans for the reopening of public and private schools only applies to the next school year. (Boston Globe)

To see how the international community has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak, check out: https://thesagonline.com/37467/coronavirus/international-efforts-to-end-covid-19/