TIMELINE: US en route to 500 000 COVID-19-related deaths

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Since the coronavirus came to the United States 13 months ago, the pandemic has killed at least 500 000 people, more than the military combat casualties of all the wars the country has fought since World War One.

Here are some key events since the virus was first detected on American soil:

January 21, 2020 – First US Case:

A Washington state man in his 30s was diagnosed with the first US case of coronavirus after returning from Wuhan, China.

January 31, 2020 – US bars foreigners who visited China:

The Trump administration barred foreign nationals who traveled to China from entering the United States.

February 6, 2020 – First US casualty:

A 57-year-old Santa Clara County, California, woman became the country’s first known COVID-19 casualty, but her death was initially misclassified. It was not until April 22, after tissue samples were tested, that local officials confirmed COVID-19 as her true cause of death.

February 29, 2020 – Virus cluster at Seattle nursing home:

The country’s first coronavirus cluster outbreak is recorded at a Seattle nursing home. To date, local public health authorities have linked the facility, Life Care of Kirkland, to 46 COVID-19 deaths.

March 16, 2020- Stocks plunge, Normal life slips away:

Wall Street had its worst day since the crash of 1987 as fear of economic calamity pushed the S&P 500 down 12%.
But it proved to be a bungee-cord drop that hit bottom on March 23 and quickly rebounded. Before the end of August, the markets regained pre-pandemic levels and continued on to new highs. Meanwhile, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut closed theaters, gyms and restaurant dining rooms. San Francisco went even further and issued a three-week stay-at-home order, a move that would soon sweep the country along with shutdowns of non-essential businesses.

March 27, 2020 – Congress to the rescue:

Congress approved a $2.2 trillion aid package – the largest in history – to help ease the economic pain inflicted by the pandemic. The package, which included payments of up to $3,000 to millions of families, was just the beginning. By the end of 2020, the total amount of aid had grown to about $4 trillion, and in February, President Joe Biden was seeking another $1.9 trillion.

March 30, 2020 – Comfort comes to pandemic epicenter:

People lined the Hudson River to cheer as the US Navy hospital ship Comfort arrived in New York, the epicenter of the burgeoning pandemic. A month later, the ship returned to Norfolk, Virginia, having never been used to anywhere near its capacity.

April 23, 2020 – Trump muses about disinfectant, light therapy:

A White House briefing by an expert who explained the effects of sunlight and isopropyl alcohol, a disinfectant, against the coronavirus prompted President Donald Trump to wonder out loud about inserting the two into patients’ bodies as a cure. “Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning?” he mused.
The remark horrified medical professionals who urged people not to drink or inject disinfectant, while Trump himself latersought to portray the comment as sarcasm.

May 08, 2020 – Jobs vanish, unemployment soars:
The Labor Department said more than 20 million jobs vanished in April, the most since the Great Depression, as the unemployment rate soared to a post-World War Two record. The unemployment rate gradually improved in the months ahead as many local economies reopened, but chronic joblessness remained endemic to the coronavirus era.

May 27, 2020 – Death toll hits 100 000.

June 23, 2020 – Baseball returns, other sports adjust to new normal: 

The first pitch of a truncated, 60-game 2020 Major League Baseball season was thrown in an empty Nationals Stadium in Washington nearly three months after traditional opening day. Other professional sports leagues, including the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League and the National Football League, were also forced to make adjustments.The Indianapolis 500 and the Kentucky Derby were delayed and held before empty stands, while the Boston and New York marathons were canceled.

July 30, 2020 – Economy shows massive shrink:
The government put a number to the country’s economic pain, announcing that the economy cratered at an annual rate of 32.9% in the April-June quarter (later revised to 31.4%), the biggest drop since the Great Depression.

August 31, 2020 – Virus claims Tom Seaver, other household names:

Hall-of-Fame pitcher Tom Seaver died at 75 of complications from COVID-19. Also in the COVID-19 toll were former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, country singer Charley Pride, country-folk singer John Prine and illusionist Roy Horn of the Siegfried and Roy duo.

September 22, 2020 – Death toll hits 200 000.

October 02, 2020 – Trump tests positive for COVID-19:

Trump and his wife tested positive for coronavirus. Trump was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. With his re-election campaign in progress, Trump returned to the White House three days later.

December 11, 2020 – A vaccine is approved:

The US Food and Drug Administration authorised a COVID- 19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech. A week later, the FDA approved Moderna Inc’s vaccine adding millions of doses to the US rollout.

December 14, 2020 – First vaccination, as death toll reaches 300 000:

With the left sleeve of her white hospital top rolled up, Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care unit nurse in New York City, became the first person in the United States to receive a shot of coronavirus vaccine as the country’s death toll hit 300 000.

January 19, 2021 – Death toll hits 400 000.

February 04, 2021 – The third vaccine seeks approval:

Johnson & Johnson asked the FDA to grant emergency use authorisation to its vaccine, which unlike the others,requires only a single dose instead of two.

February 18, 2020: Life expectancy falls:

The country’s life expectancy fell by a full year in the first half of 2020, the biggest drop since World War Two, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in a report that it said did not reflect the full effects of the pandemic.