A timeline of major events surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak

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It has been two months since health officials discovered a new strain of the coronavirus – a strain responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 people and that has sickened tens of thousands around the world.

Human coronaviruses are not new. They were first characterized in the 1960s. The virus causes respiratory tract infections, with symptoms similar to the common cold.

Dec. 31, 2019
The first cases of what was thought to be pneumonia were reported to the World Health Organization. It is believed that animals sold at the quickly closed Huanan Market in Wuhan, China were the source. Within a week, it is confirmed that the Chinese patients have the novel coronavirus. The WHO labels it COVID-19 or Coronavirus Disease 19.

PHOTOS: The impact of the coronavirus around the world:


Early January

Other countries start to report cases of COVID-19, including Thailand and Japan. Three international airports, including John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, in the United States start to screen passengers for symptoms.

Jan. 11, 2020
China announces its first death of COVID-19 – a 61-year-old man who had been to the Wuhan market. Within a month, the death toll in China climbed to over 1,000 people.

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Jan. 21, 2020
The first case of COVID-19 is detected in the United States – a Washington state resident who had traveled to China.

Late January 2020
The National Institutes of Health announces it is working on a vaccine against the coronavirus strain. New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson announces it is also working on one.

Jan. 30, 2020
United States officials report a case of person-to-person transmission of the illness – a relative of the Washington state patient.

Early February 2020
A cruise ship off the coast of Japan carrying nearly 4,000 people is quarantined after it is confirmed that 10 passengers contracted COVID-19.

A few days later passengers on board the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship that docked in Bayonne were rushed to a New Jersey hospital for screening. No cases of COVID-19 were detected on the ship, but some passengers did test positive for the flu.

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Mid-to-late February 2020
Colleges and universities around the country cancel study abroad trips. Many local companies have halted international travel and in-person meetings.

Feb. 29, 2020
The first death from COVID-19 in the United States – a man in his 50s. Ten more people would die in the U.S. by March 4.

March 1, 2020
The first case of COVID-19 is detected in New York City. A woman in her 30s contracted the illness after she recently traveled to Iran.

More cases of the virus would be confirmed in New Rochelle, New York. The state is reporting 11 cases in all.

March 4, 2020
The first "presumptive positive" case of COVID-19 is detected in Bergen County, New Jersey. As of March 6, three other cases would be identified.

March 6, 2020
Officials announce a Connecticut hospital worker has tested positive for the virus. The woman had been notified earlier in the week that she was among those who may have come into contact with someone in New York who had the coronavirus. She has been away from the workplace since then awaiting testing results. Officials say the woman worked in isolated areas, coming in contact with limited numbers of patients.

What’s to come?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that more cases of the coronavirus will be identified in the United States. The CDC says that it is likely that person-to-person spread will continue and that widespread transmission will occur.

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