Currents News Staff
The world as we know it changed in what seemed like an instant around this time last year.
COVID-19, a new virus, completely altered everyday life, bringing some of our most enjoyable and important parts of life to a grinding halt.
Here’s a look back at how the pandemic started, and how far we’ve come since.
“We have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
In December of 2019, pneumonia of unknown origins is first detected in Wuhan, China.
“I have today declared that the coronavirus presents a public health emergency in the United States,” said Alex Azar, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and Chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the time.
By February of 2020, a global public health emergency is declared, and public health officials around the world are on alert.
By this time, the virus is spreading like wildfire around the globe, as hundreds of Americans flee the epicenter of the outbreak in China.
They’re then placed under strict and unprecedented quarantine for 14 days at military bases in multiple states.
“This is the first time in more than 50 years the CDC has issued a quarantine order like this,” said Dr. Christopher Braden of the CDC at the time.
Now, the United States has already seen its first known human-to-human transmission of the virus.
“A man in his 60’s. As you heard the husband of our first confirmed case,” explained Dr. Allison Arwady of the Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner. “He was put into isolation when public health learned that he had developed symptoms.”
By the end of February, global air travel has been restricted with the CDC sending out a warning.
“Current global circumstances suggest it’s likely this virus will cause a pandemic,” said Dr. Anne Schuchato of the CDC.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared a global pandemic.
“We are in a critical time period in the international spread of the virus and this action is necessary to try to prevent the spread here in the United States,” said Dr. Braden.
By mid-March, the virus brought the world to a grinding halt.
Life as we knew it had come to an end.
“We cannot be gathered together. We cannot be in close proximity to each other,” said Gov. Mike Dewine of Ohio.
Sporting events? Canceled.
“The NBA has suspended games until further notice,” said Steve Starks president of the Utah Jazz basketball team.
“We have to take this action,” said Gov. Dewine. “We have to do everything we can to have an interruption.”
Movies and concerts? Canceled.
“The virus is here, present at some level but we still don’t know to what degree,” said Dr. Sara Cody of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
COVID-19 hit hard and fast, overwhelming hospitals and health care facilities.
#GetMePPE was trending as medical supplies to combat the virus ran short, and the nation couldn’t keep up with the demand for tests.
“it’s underlying why this crisis could get a lot worse because we can’t even get our arms around what’s happening if we don’t have testing capacity,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
By April, the United States hit one million confirmed cases.
“The reason it’s so unprecedented? It exploded upon us,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases.
With the world desperate to find a way to battle the virus, the U.S. government launched “Operation Warp Speed.”
The race to develop a vaccine was launched in May.
“When I say quickly, we’re looking to get it by the end of the year if we can, maybe before,” said former president Donald Trump.
Nearly eight months later, as the nation faced its deadliest month of the pandemic to date, with more than 77,000 deaths in December, the ultimate weapon against the virus was ready to roll out with the emergency use authorization of the first of several COVID-19 vaccines.
“It looks to be roughly 95% effective at preventing disease, including 100% effective at severe disease,” said Dr. Paul Offit, FDA vaccine advisory group member.
Just a week later, vaccine vials were shipped across America and shots started going into arms.
“I did not know that I would make history and that’s not why I did it. I wanted to do it to inspire people,” said Sandra Lindsay, the first American to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside a clinical trial.
Now, as we face the future of the pandemic and the possibility of more contagious strains, America’s top health officials say we will still face dark times, but remain optimistic that we will prevail.
“I believe by the time we get to the fall, we will be approaching a degree of normality,” said Dr. Fauci.