COVID-19 Timeline: How the disease spread across the globe

COVID-19 was first detected in December last year and has now spread to over 160 countries worldwide. Here's how the pandemic unfolded.
Health workers screen a patient for coronavirus on March 18 at a drive-through testing site in Arlington, Virginia.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirushas rapidly spread and reached the stage of pandemic. Cities, states and countries mandated quarantines. Health care systems scrambled to contain outbreaks and entire industries have shut down. Tech giants were hit hard by supply chain problems and social media networks have wrestled with the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
This timeline highlights how the pandemic unfolded since December 2019, with a particular focus on breaking news events and lockdown information as it happened.


Coronavirus timeline (March 22, 2020 to Dec. 1, 2019)

March 22

Sen. Rand Paul tests positive

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has tested positive for coronavirus. In a tweet Sunday, Paul's account revealed that he tested positive and is in quarantine. According to the tweet Paul is "asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events," with a follow-up tweet noting that his staff has been operating remotely and that he "expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in quarantine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has entered quarantine after being told that a doctor who gave her a pneumonia vaccine Friday has tested positive for coronavirus. According to the Associated Press, Merkel was put into quarantine shortly after a press conference on Sunday where she announced some "new measures to curb the spread of the virus." The country has added a ban of gatherings of more than two people in a bid to slow the pandemic.

March 21

Pence staffer tested positive

Vice President Mike Pence said in the White House's daily briefing that a member of his staff has tested positive for the coronavirus and is doing well, with "mild coldlike symptoms." He added that neither he nor President Trump had contact with the staffer, but that Pence and his wife would be tested later in the afternoon.

Apple to provide face masks

Apple has pledged to donate 2 million industrial face masks to help address the needs of health care workers in areas hit hard by the new coronavirus, Pence said in the Saturday briefing.

Avoid unnecessary testing and procedures

Also during the briefing, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged people to forgo unnecessary tests and medical procedures, all of which reduce the supply of the personal protective gear needed for doctors and nurses. ""Those are high priority for the health care workers that are taking care of people who have coronavirus disease," Fauci said.

March 20

Illinois on lockdown

The state of Illinois is on lockdown, Gov. JB Pritzker announced. The stay-at-home order goes into effect at 5 p.m. local time Saturday, and will remain in place until April 7.

Suspension of student loan payments

The US Education Department said that people with federal student loans can suspend payments for two months without having to worry about accruing interest. The period of suspension, which started March 13, will run for at least 60 days. "Right now, everyone should be focused on staying safe and healthy, not worrying about their student loan balance growing," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement.

Netflix pledges $100 million to creatives

Netflix is creating a $100 million fund to help with employment hardship caused by the coronavirus in the creative industry. Most will go to supporting the "hardest hit workers" on Netflix's own productions globally, in addition to the two weeks' pay it's providing to cast and crew. But $15 million will be provided to "third parties and nonprofits providing emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast in the countries where we have a large production base."
Netflix will also donate $1 million each to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation COVID-19 Disaster Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund and the Actors Fund Emergency Assistance in the US, and $1 million between the AFC and Fondation des Artistes. It will donate similar amounts to organizations in Europe, Latin America and Asia, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a blog post.

New York asks designers to make face masks

Designer brands are stepping in to help, with Christian Siriano tweeting Friday to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that if masks are needed, "my team will help make some. I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help." Cuomo responded saying he appreciates the help, and is asking more to step in.

US Tax Day moves to July 15

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted Friday that Tax Day has been moved from April 15 to July 15. "All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties," he tweeted. He added in a second tweet: "I encourage all taxpayers who may have tax refunds to file now to get your money."

Unprecedented jobless claims predicted

Goldman Sachs economist David Choi predicts that initial unemployment claims in the US for the week ending March 21 could reach 2.25 million, according to Market Watch. That compares with 281,000 as of March 14 and 211,000 as of March 7. Such an increase in one week's time would be unprecedented in US history.

UK shuts pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants

The British government said on Friday that all bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close as soon as possible throughout the UK, and can now only provide takeout. The closures extend to theaters, clubs, cinemas, gyms and leisure centers.

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