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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 on Valentine’s Day. 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. 23: Italy's COVID-19 case numbers explode

    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. Within the next week, cases spiked across Europe and Latin America reported its first case. On Feb. 28, the first American COVID-19 death was reported in Seattle.

  • March 7: More than 100,000 infections worldwide

    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 a 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.

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  • 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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  • March 19: China reports no new local infections

    China reported no new local infections, a signal that China’s epidemic could be winding down. However, although no new local infections were recorded, there were 34 new infections confirmed among patients who had traveled to China from elsewhere. On the same day, Italy overtook China as the country with the most deaths worldwide.

  • March 20: Deaths exceed 10,000 globally

    Confirmed deaths from COVID-19 exceeded 10,000 worldwide. Cases began to rise exponentially, for example, from 2,958 to 13,957 overnight in Germany. Within days of this somber milestone, the United Kingdom, where a “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 had been considered, ordered all non-essential stores to shut down, banned meetings of more than two people, and require people to stay at home except to buy food or medicine. On March 24, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown. Some migrant workers were forced to walk hundreds of miles back to their homes.

    China had a second day with no new domestic cases reported.

  • March 24: Tokyo Summer Olympics postponed

    It was announced that the Tokyo Summer Olympics would be postponed for one year in response to COVID-19. This was the first time Olympic games have been canceled since World War II. Only three games have been canceled since the beginning of the Olympics, all due to wars.

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