April 21: Georgia draws scrutiny with plan to reopen the state early
Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, decided to start reopening the state at the end of April, with some essential businesses dine-in restaurants reopening late in the month. Georgia joined fellow Southern states Florida and South Carolina, who relaxed their stay-at-home orders and started reopening their public beaches. Public health officials made dire predictions about the spread of COVID-19 once restrictions were lifted, which came true.
April 23: President signs off on $484 billion small-business stimulus bill
Most of the funds from the $484 billion bill went toward the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans for small businesses so they can keep paying their workers. Additional funding went to hospitals and coronavirus testing, as well as providing loans for farms and ranches.
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July 23: US passes 4 million cases nationwide
As more states grappled with record-high numbers of new COVID-19 cases, the United States passed 4 million cases and 145,000 deaths nationwide, jumping from 3 million cases just 15 days prior. President Donald Trump also announced the cancellation of parts of the Republican National Convention, planned for mid-August in Florida, due to COVID-19.
August: Congress fails to pass new COVID-19 relief bill
With COVID-19 and increased unemployment still prevalent in the United States, Americans have been asking for a new relief bill, hopefully providing another stimulus payment and extending the $600 unemployment insurance that expired on July 31. However, Congress has stalled at passing a comprehensive economic stimulus package since the CARES Act in March. House Democrats and Senate Republicans have not been able to agree on how much this new bill should cost, and how much of those funds should go toward unemployed Americans, state funding, and struggling businesses. It's unclear whether an agreement will be reached before 2021.
Aug. 17: UNC Chapel Hill goes online one week after reopening
Aug. 26: Abbott antigen test approved
As Americans wait days—and sometimes weeks—for the results of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, some experts are turning to antigen tests as a potential strategy for faster and cheaper mass testing. Antigen tests look for a specific piece of the coronavirus’ structure, rather than identifying its genetic material, which makes these tests quicker to run, but less precise, than PCR tests.
The Abbott Diagnostics antigen test is the most recent of four such tests to receive Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. This test does not require any complex equipment, and gets patients results in only 15 minutes. The Trump Administration purchased 150 million of the new tests, to be put to use as soon as Abbott can manufacture them.
Sept. 16: CDC releases vaccination playbook
Though some epidemiology experts called this timeline unlikely, the Trump Administration instructed state and local public health agencies to prepare for COVID-19 vaccine distribution in October or November. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccination Program Interim Playbook provided logistical details about this potential release, from what supplies the CDC will send public health agencies to how vaccination data will be collected and reported.
Sept. 19: U.S. death toll passes 200,000
Six months after most of the country implemented COVID-19 lockdown measures, NBC News reported that the United States surpassed the 200,000 mark. This came at the heels of Bob Woodward’s book coming out, in which the journalist wrote that Trump had been concerned about the coronavirus in early February, but downplayed it to the American public and did not have a national response until March. The book was based on several interviews conducted between Woodward and Trump, and while his staff say that the president downplayed the virus in order to not incite unnecessary panic, some researchers believe fewer people would have died if the country started social distancing and quarantining even one week earlier.
Oct. 2: COVID-19 reaches the White House
President Donald Trump announced on Oct. 2 that he and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19. That same day, Trump was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he received the antiviral drug remdesivir and experimental COVID-19 treatments, including an antibody cocktail from the company Regeneron. He returned to the White House on Oct. 5, and resumed public appearances on Oct. 10.
Meanwhile, the White House was linked to 38 other COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 14, according to the White House COVID-19 Tracker, an independent visualization project compiling news reports on this outbreak. These cases include Trump administration officials, high-profile politicians, and journalists in the White House press corps.