Coronavirus Timeline

Dec. 10:  Wei Guixian, one of the earliest known coronavirus patients, starts feeling ill.

Dec. 16: Patient admitted to Wuhan Central Hospital with infection in both lungs but resistant to anti-flu drugs. Staff later learned he worked at a wildlife market connected to the outbreak.

Dec. 27: Wuhan health officials are told that a new coronavirus is causing the illness.

Dec. 30:

  • Ai Fen, a top director at Wuhan Central Hospital, posts information on WeChat about the new virus. She was reprimanded for doing so and told not to spread information about it. The post is seen by most infectious disease watchers around the world, including the CDC and the WHO.
  • Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang also shares information on WeChat about the new SARS-like virus. He is called in for questioning shortly afterward.
  • Wuhan health commission notifies hospitals of a “pneumonia of unclear cause” and orders them to report any related information.

Dec. 31:

  • Wuhan health officials confirm 27 cases of illness and close a market they think is related to the virus’ spread.
  • China tells the World Health Organization’s (WHO) China office about the cases of an unknown illness.

Jan. 1: Wuhan Public Security Bureau brings in for questioning eight doctors who had posted information about the illness on WeChat.

  • An official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission orders laboratories, which had already determined that the novel virus was similar to SARS, to stop testing samples and to destroy existing samples.
  • Wuhan officials close the market suspected to be the original source.

Jan. 1: WHO sets up the IMST (Incident Management Support Team) across three levels of the organization, putting the organization on an emergency footing. US organs tasked with watching such things are included, as are those from other countries.

Jan. 1: Head of CDC Robert Redfield calls Alex Azar, Sect of Health and Human Services to tell him that an unknown but potentially SARS-like virus had emerged in Wuhan. The National Security Council is also notified. [I.e., the CDC was paying attention to international reports early, and were aware of the WeChat posts].

Jan. 2: Chinese researchers map the new coronavirus’ complete genetic information. This information is not made public until Jan. 9.

Jan. 4: WHO reports publicly that there is a cluster of unusual and dangerous pneumonia cases with no deaths in Wuhan, Hubei province.

Jan. 6: CDC issues travel advisory for Wuhan, Hubei, China. NSC (National Security Council) tracks the outbreak in intelligence reports to the president.

Jan. 7: Xi Jinping becomes involved in the response.

In view of previous Chinese disclosure issues, international bodies such as the WHO and the CDC were already tracking events closely leading to:

Jan. 7: Azar convenes a small task force including Redfield (CDC) and Fauci (NIH) to coordinate preparations, begins discussing how to activate the Defense Production Act. The National Security Council is officially notified, although they were already tracking events.

Jan. 8: CDC in the US issue advisory to all clinicians to be on the lookout for “patients with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to Wuhan, China.”

CDC also develops and distributes guidance to clinicians for testing and management.

Jan. 9: China announces it has mapped the coronavirus genome. Not shared until Jan. 12.

China reports first death definitely linked to COVID 19, a 61 year old male who had as underlying conditions abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease.

Jan 10: WHO issues its comprehensive technical package based on information received, including advisory for full aerosol and contact protection, identifying it as a novel coronavirus akin to previous outbreaks. Since these were extremely dangerous, the protections required are at a high level, although person to person transmission is at this time not known.

Jan. 11–17: Important prescheduled CCP (China) meeting held in Wuhan. During that time, the Wuhan Health Commission insists there are no new cases.

Jan. 12: China shares its map of the coronavirus openly.

[There appears to be a strong willingness of national authorities (Beijing) to work with international groups, and the WHO in particular, while the local provincial Hubei authorities were reticent or downright criminal in keeping information under wraps and downplaying the situation. It is tempting to equate the two, but they should be seen separately, a bit like separating the actions of a particular state versus the actions of say the CDC.]

Jan. 13: First coronavirus case reported in Thailand, the first known case outside China, a woman from Wuhan.

Jan. 14: WHO announces Chinese authorities have seen “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”

Jan. 15: The patient who becomes the first confirmed U.S. case leaves Wuhan and arrives in the US, carrying the coronavirus.

He goes to a hospital in Seattle, where he is sampled—these need to be sent to CDC as there is no local authorization. Confirmation comes from CDC Jan. 21. No state or university labs are allowed to do testing.

Jan. 16: Japan reports its first case, an ‘imported’ case of a man in his 30’s who had also been in Wuhan.

Jan. 16: Charité Hospital in Berlin, Germany, posts with open access a SARS-COV-2 test that they have developed. This becomes the basis of the WHO tests that were added to their technical package.

Jan. 17: WHO publishes protocols for manufacturing SARS-COV-2 tests based on the Charité Hospital tests. Most nations use these tests.

The US CDC is one of the few organizations in the world who has the equivalent capability as WHO, and is confident in its own ability to produce a test with high quality. This is not an unusual decision, but in this case created a delay of at least three weeks, probably much more.

Jan. 17: CDC begins implementing public health entry screening at San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles airports, shortly after adding Atlanta and Chicago.

Jan. 18:

  • The Wuhan Health Commission announces four new cases.
  • Annual Wuhan Lunar New Year banquet. Tens of thousands of people gathered for a potluck.

Jan. 18: Secretary Alex Azar (Health and Human Resources) briefs President Trump who is at Mar-i-Lago by phone.

Jan. 19: Beijing sends epidemiologists to Wuhan.

Jan. 20: Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese doctor who is helping to coordinate the coronavirus response, announces the virus can be passed between people. (This is six days after the previous statement that there was no clear evidence of this).

Jan. 20: The first case announced in South Korea.

Jan. 21: The U.S. CDC confirms the first coronavirus case in the United States (Washington).

Jan 21:

  • CCP flagship newspaper People’s Daily mentions the coronavirus epidemic and Xi’s actions to fight it for the first time.
  • China’s top political commission in charge of law and order warns that “anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of [virus] cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity.”

Jan. 21: South Korea launches testing program using the WHO test derived from the German work—that is, one week after the technical details became available.

Jan. 20-22: WHO mission to Wuhan, followed by statement that there is evidence of person to person transmission of the virus, but actual mode of transmission is still not clear.

Jan. 22: President Trump makes first public comments, saying the “we have it totally under control.”

Jan. 23: WHO Director General convenes Emergency Committee meeting to access situation, but they reach no consensus to issue an international emergency declaration.

Jan. 23: Wuhan, Beijing and three other cities are put on lockdown. Chinese New Year festivities scheduled for January 25 are cancelled. Right around this time, approximately 5 million people leave Wuhan without being screened for the illness.

Jan. 24–30: China celebrates the Lunar New Year holiday. Hundreds of millions of people are in transit around the country as they visit relatives.

Jan. 24: China extends the lockdown to cover 36 million people and starts to rapidly build a new hospital in Wuhan. From this point, very strict measures continue to be implemented around the country for the rest of the epidemic. China reports numbers that confirm that the infection rate is exponential.

Jan. 25: Hong Kong suspends all flights to and from Wuhan. Cases now in Nepal, Malaysia, Canada, France (first in Europe) and Australia.

Jan. 27: WHO chief Tedros travels to Beijing to meet with government health officials and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Cambodia, Germany, Sri Lanka confirm first cases.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation commits $10 million to support activities in China and build screening and outbreak preparedness in Africa.

Jan. 29: White House Economic Advisor Peter Navarro sends a memo warning of dire economic and personal consequences from the outbreak. President Trump agrees to the establishment of a White House coronavirus task force.

Jan. 29: First repatriation flights from Wuhan (not US)

United Arab Emirates, Finland report first cases

Australia successfully grow the virus in the lab which can help with developing a vaccine, etc.

Jan 30: WHO declares a PHEIC after reconvening the Emergency Committee early. This is the 6th time a PHEIC has been issued. (Public Health Emergency of International Concern). Two others are still active—the Ebola outbreak in the Congo area and the on-going Polio outbreak.

India and the Philippines have first cases

Jan 31: US Sect. of Health and Human Services Azar declares a public health emergency in the US, triggering various governmental actions. President trump expresses anger at the move, as he believes Azar is alarmist and could cause undue panic.

One of the key actions triggered is that any tests, including at the CDC, from state labs, universities or from private companies, must first receive Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA.

UK, Russia, Sweden, Spain confirm first cases

Jan. 31: President Trump suspends entry into the US for most foreign nationals who have traveled to China in the past 14 days.

Jan. 31: Italy confirms two cases in Rome, shuts down flights to China and declares a national emergency.

Jan. 31: WHO reports 11,950 cases worldwide, although China’s number is 14,380 a day later.

Feb. 2: CDC submits first test kits to EUA, which are approved Feb. 4.

Feb. 3: The WHO launches its web Dashboard

China launches a clinical trial of Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir, previously tested with Ebola patients.(There have been two trials in China, both have had to be shut down because of lack of patients, that need to be in hospitalized phase. Initial results were unclear, since no control arm existed, and while 68% recovered, many died. Personal note—in the Spanish Influenza pandemic, similar studies, many with controls, were undertaken in the US, with similar mixed results. In the end, none of the treatments turned out to be specifically beneficial. One of these was quinine, the equivalent of the hydrocholoroquinine that has been touted by the President. There are ongoing trials of remdesivir in the US and Europe that may provide better data.

Feb. 5: Senators urge President Trump to take the virus seriously and asked if additional funds were necessary. Congress passes $8.5 billion funding for health care support. (Phase 1 legislation). The administration makes no requests at the time for emergency funding.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation commits $100 million to the effort.

First cruise ship disaster—10 passengers from a liner docked in Yokohama.

China begins penalizing officials found to be neglectful in performing their duties in relation to infection prevention and control of the outbreak. Little real information is available on this.

Feb 6-7: CDC test kits are distributed, but each lab needs independent EUA.

Feb. 7: First indication that there is a ‘severe global disruption’ in the market for PPE, demand is 100 times normal and prices 20 times higher, with depleted stockpiles and backlogs of four to six months.’ (WHO report)

WHO reports that 28 countries in Africa have the capacity to test for the virus, at least at central locations. This is revised Feb13 to 17 countries. (The US still only has the one—at CDC in Atlanta).

WHO says it has created a group to battle internet trolls and conspiracy theorists on social platforms who are actively pushing misinformation and undermining the outbreak response.

Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who raised the alarm in December and was censured, dies of COVID-19.

Feb. 10: 168 labs now have the capacity to test. Still only one viable lab in the US.

Feb. 11: The virus is given its official name COVID-19, by WHO. It is also called SARS-COV-2 for research purposes (and will eventually probably be an HxHx. The earlier name was 2019-nCoV. News reports still use novel coronavirus as well.

Death toll breaks 1,000.

Feb. 12: CDC announces previous test kits have a manufacturing problem and need to be replaced.

Feb. 14: Egypt reports its first case, the first confirmed case in Africa.

Feb. 15: Only 12 labs in the US receive EUA approval to handle the tests.

Feb. 16: CDC and State labs have tested only 800 people, or roughly 2.4 per million people. By contrast, South Korea, which had its first case the same day as the US but used the WHO test base, tested by this time 8,000, or 154.7 tests per million.

Feb. 17: China publishes detailed analysis of more than 44,000 confirmed cases, leading to a better understanding of mortality and clinical progression. Mortality appears to be about 2% in this sample.

Feb. 19: Iran reports its first case, total deaths pass 2,000.

Feb. 20: A man in Lombardy, Italy tests positive after previously leaving hospital without a test. He is believed to be a spreader.

Feb. 20: WHO Director General Tedros makes a strong statement that the pandemic is not being taken seriously enough, particularly in financing a response, which is widely interpreted as a message to the Trump administration—thereby incurring the wrath of Trump and a cadre of America conservative commentators.

Feb. 21: White House coronavirus task force conducts mock exercise on the pandemic, concludes country needed to implement social distancing aggressively.

Feb. 23: White house Economic Advisor Navarro sends a second memo, this one addressed directly to the president warning that up to 2 million Americans could die.

Feb. 23: President Trump tweets, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”

Feb. 24: European Commission announces an aid package of $252 million for global preparedness and response to COVID-19, the bulk for WHO’s work, and for a public-private partnership supporting pharmaceutical industry search for a vaccine.

First indication that incoming case loads in China might be leveling off.

US biotech firm MOderna sends an experimental COVID-19 vaccine to the US national Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases for a planned phase one study.

Feb 25: Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the highly respected director at the National Center for Immunization and respiratory Diseases cautions that it is not an if, but a when. The internet trolls on the conservative side swing into action to vilify her, and her stock in the Trump administration drops.

Feb. 26: President Trump taps Vice President Pence to lead the Administration response, but quickly supplants him on the podium. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kuschner is in the background running his own operation. Anyone wanting the President’s attention has to navigate these and other competing blocks.

Brazil has its first confirmed case, the first reported in South America.

Feb 27: President Trump tweets, “It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.”

Feb 29: FDA lifts restrictions on labs, issuing new set of significantly less restrictive protocols.

Feb. 20: Washington state reports first COVID-19 death in the US.

Mar. 2: The US commits $37 million from the Emergency reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious Diseases at the US Agency for International Development (USAID)—the first of the pledged $100 million.

Mar. 3: Restrictions on who qualifies for a test are dissolved. However, testing capacity is still very low and slow (mine taken Mar 3 in Washington state took 10 days because only one lab was approved).

Mar. 5: US Congress approves emergency spending package

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva says emerging market and low-income countries will have access to $50 billion fund.

First commercial tests launched—LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics.

Mar. 8: Only 3,099 tests have been completed, 518 positive, or a rate of 9.5 per million. South Korea’s number was 3,682 per million.

Mar. 9: President Trump tweets, “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

Mar. 11: WHO calls the outbreak a Pandemic.

Mar. 12: Administration announces ban on travel from European countries, except Ireland and the UK.

Mar. 13: President Trump declares a national emergency, which legally frees up $50 billion in federal funds for states and territories.

Mar. 14: Trump extends travel ban to UK and Ireland.

Mar. 15: German government sources tell Reuters that the US is trying to convince German firm CureVac to move research on potential vaccine to the United States.

European Commission implements restrictions on export of PPE supplies outside the EU. Any exports require specific authorization by member states.

Mar. 16: Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation team up to send 500,000 test kits and 1 million masks to the US.

Mar. 19: The Family First Coronoviris Response Act becomes law. (Congress spelled it with an o). (Phase 2)

Wuhan reports no new cases for the first time since this began.

Mar. 20: US and Mexico agree to limit non-essential travel between countries.

Mar. 22: Global cases reach 300,000— “it took over three months to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases, 12 days to reach 200,000, and three days to reach 300,000.”

Panama closes Tocumen International Airport, and all domestic travel as of March 25th. Progressively more stringent restrictions have been put in place until all movement is banned except to the grocery store or pharmacy in a two hour period every other day.

Mar. 24: India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi announces a lockdown of the entire country, 1.3 billion residents.

Mar. 26: Cases in the US surpass those in China and Italy. US is now the epicenter of the pandemic. (Given the population numbers, it is not surprising that the US would eventually surpass Italy, but at a third the size of China’s population, and with being still on the ramp up, passing China is discouraging.)

Mar. 27: The CARES Act becomes law. CARES ACT—Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. (Phase 3).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19.

Mar 28: Testing rate in the US is 2,250 per million.

Portugal announces that all foreigners will be treated as residents during the crises and have access to public services.

Wuhan restarts rail service, although the lock down is still largely in place.

Mar. 31: US places a moratorium on USAID’s previously committed assistance in PPE, asking that it instead be sent to the US.

UNICEF halts routine and emergency vaccinations in underdeveloped countries with weak governments because of misinformation being spread on social media that these vaccinations spread COVID-19—at least one center is attacked.

Apr. 3: Asian Development Bank estimates the global economic impact to be between $2 and $4 trillion.

Apr. 6: WHO estimates that over 1.5 billion children and young people have been affected by school closures.

Apr. 8: China lifts the lockdown on Wuhan.

Trump starts his campaign against WHO

Apr. 14: Trump announces suspension of funding for WHO

United Nations Children’s Fund warns that more thatn 117 million childrenin 37 countries are in danger of missing out on the measles vaccine.


As of this writing, April 15, 2020, here are the numbers (from

Coronavirus cases:             2,027,643

Recovered                               494,561

Deaths                                      129,155


Closed cases               623,716

Deaths of closed                     129,155

Percent of closed cases                 21%   This is scary.


One further note on testing—in the US a doctor’s order/prescription is required to obtain a test—you cannot drive up to one of the ‘drive thru’ test sites and get tested. This contrasts with standard procedure in some countries (I am familiar with Panama) where any citizen can walk into a test site and get tested for a wide range of things, although I expect things like X-rays, MRIs etc., still require a doctor’s order. As long as a doctor’s order is required, which requires a doctor’s appointment and insurance payment for that, testing will be constrained. At the moment capacity is the constraint, but within a month or two the problem will be waiting for people to come in. This will also apply to antibody testing.

Some of the good sources:—covid-19




Hand the Oscars to Spotlight now


Dan and I just went to see Spotlight, the movie that tells the tale of how the Archdiocese of Boston was made to face the public on the priestly paedophilia scandal. Or the tale of how the Boston Globe Spotlight staff (hence the name of the movie) went about peeling away the layers of communal coverup. Or the tale of those who were victimized, abused, in many cases effectively murdered by an unbelievably large number of defective men who had become priests. Or—and I believe this is why the movie deserves to be ranked among the greatest—the tale of how organizations, of all kinds, automatically cover and bury socially dangerous actions to the detriment of their real mission. The bizarre example of the Chicago shooting of Jamar Clark comes to mind–a year to come to terms with the obvious–all for organizational (and power) reasons. And in the wake of the shootings in San Bernardino each Islamic community has to again ask itself how to untangle the and reject the hateful people from the high ideals of the organization. I give this movie five stars and every award you can find.
Most movies need to take liberties to meet audience expectations of time, too much detail, or modern expectation of spectacle. Somehow Spotlight manages to do the opposite. The visual medium is so intense you won’t want to walk out of the theater until the end of the credits. Without chases, without guns, without CGI (any CGI is cosmetic), this is a real story that will scare you. Yet, at the end you will be pushed upward by the dogged success of the Boston Globe to break through, aware of their own errors of omission, wondering how to find solutions. You will have a glimmer of hope. More than 20% of the total in the Archdiocese, 250+ priests, preyed on thousands of children, boys and girls too, over 50 years with near impunity. Worse—and the real focus here—is that they were recycled to other areas where they continued their predations until moved again. At every step the organization based on the idea of being there for the welfare of the poor, the sick, the unprotected chose to protect the organization. And the community knew of the hurt and protected the organization, not the children.
Thomas McCarthy (Director and Writer) and Josh Singer (Writer) have crafted a movie that does all this with attention to the personal. Your heart cries when a victim finally speaks out, when he describes exactly what the priest did to him, how he did it. No flinch, but no extra. But they do not wallow in the gore, instead returning to it every so often as a composer does in a fine symphony, lightly, reminding. Then they have added the second theme–the personal anguishes of the main characters, first the Spotlight journalists, all of them Catholic and all but one very local, then with each of the fine supporting cast of lawyers, charity boosters, and family members. Not one of these turns out to be a victim himself or herself; there are no cheap theatrical tricks to squeeze your heart. A third thematic form carries it all— the organization. Here McCarthy and Singer have achieved a marvel of cinematic construction, having layered more than three organizations and their problems so seamlessly you never feel you’ve lost track of one of them. This is not solely a story of the Archdiocese of Boston–if so you could call it an attack film, and there will be those in the organization who will. Instead, at least two other organizations are profiled–the venerable Boston Globe itself, and a school system. You can add the legal systems we live daily lives in, too. Like a perfect symphony, personal and grand, perfectly intricate.
Incidentally, the music is excellent (Howard Shore).
The acting is superb—pointing at one actor would do a disservice to the others who were equally good. Most of the main characters have an opportunity to show their film acting chops in emotional scenes—and the director and the actor has cut the perfect diamond from the raw stone, clearly taking the filming time to do it right.
Was there anything that I did not like about this movie? Yes. I hated the material this movie is based on—the acts are heinous, the coverup horrifying. That is not the movie’s fault but its opportunity. I didn’t like it that the Catholic Church has a major part of its shiny new shield of goodness taken away–we all like what Pope Francis has done. In that I am like any other organization person—protect the overall no matter how bad, to the end.
But Spotlight is painful precisely because the Catholic Church has not dealt fully with the real damage—don’t call them allegations or you are already part of the problem. And we are left with the grand theme of the movie—how do we break this cycle of protection and damage, both personal and organizational, in all our organizations? The Chicago shooting is an analog of the Catholic Church’s problem.  And increasingly we are recognizing, from our western eyes, that the various main groups of Islam–Sunni, Shi’a and the hundreds of smaller sects–have a similar problem that they are struggling to deal with.
In the meantime, the film ends with a list of locations where Catholic priests were found to be molesting children, and they are worldwide. And the response of the Church has not been even, it is still finding ways to protect itself rather than its congregation.
JTW, Dec 2015