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From Wuhan to the White House: A timeline of COVID-19’s spread

  • Feb. 14: First death in Europe

    The first COVID-19 death in Europe took place in Paris. The victim was an 80-year-old Chinese tourist and it was the first death outside of Asia. On the same day, Egypt became the first African country to report a case.

  • Feb. 19: COVID-19 arrives in Iran

    Iran reported there were two coronavirus cases in the country and that both had resulted in the patients’ deaths. The source of the virus in Iran is not known. One day later, on Feb. 20, the WHO reported the number of global cases to be roughly 75,000.

  • Feb. 23: Cases of COVID-19 explode in Italy

    By Feb. 23, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Italy had grown from five to more than 150. The Lombardy region in the north of the country was the hardest hit, and officials locked down 10 towns in the area, closing schools and canceling events.

  • Feb. 26: First case reported in Latin America, more cases in Europe

    A 61-year-old man from São Paulo, Brazil, who had recently returned from Italy tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, more and more cases were reported in Europe. Two days later, other countries with reported infections were Belarus, England, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, and Wales.

  • Feb. 28: Cases spike in Europe, first U.S. death

    By Feb. 28, there were more and more cases reported in Europe. At this time, 800 patients had been confirmed infected in Italy, and cases in 14 other countries could be traced back to Italy as well. On the same day, the United States confirmed its first COVID-19 death in Seattle.

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  • March 7: Death toll continues to rise

    By March 7, COVID-19 had killed nearly 3,500 people and infected 102,000 in more than 90 countries. Iran became one of the worst situations totaling 4,747 cases and 124 deaths.

  • March 11: WHO declares COVID-19 to be global pandemic

    In response to the quick spread of COVID-19, the WHO declares the outbreak to be a global pandemic. In a briefing, WHO director-general said, “We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus.”

  • March 11: Trump announces a European travel ban—sort of

    As the epicenter of the virus shifted from China to Europe, President Trump made an announcement saying he would block all travelers from European countries except Britain for 30 days. He walked the statement back a few hours later, saying that this would not apply to U.S. citizens, residents, or their spouses, but not before many travelers had spent thousands on tickets to return home.

  • March 13: Trump declares a national emergency

    President Trump declared a national emergency and said he would make $50 billion available to states and territories to fight COVID-19. By this time, the global death toll had passed 4,600 and there were 126,100 confirmed infections worldwide.

  • March 15: Europe shuts down

    In response to the virus’ quick spread, some Western European countries began to shut down nonessential businesses. In Spain, which had the second-highest death rate in Europe after Italy, residents could only leave home to buy essential supplies or to work. In France, cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, and cinemas were closed.

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