Special Report

From Dec. 2019 to Dec. 2020: A Timeline of Coronavirus Spread

December 31 marks exactly a year since the World Health Organization first received reports of an unknown pneumonia-like illness spreading in Wuhan City, China. The virus, which would turn out to be SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, had soon spread worldwide, leading to an extraordinary year of living in the shadow of a pandemic, significant economic struggles — and death. It’s also been a year of remarkable achievements, including the development and release of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As we prepare to enter the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, 24/7 Tempo reviewed news archives to create a timeline of more than 50 key milestones in the spread of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes since it was first reported/discovered in December 2019.

The novel coronavirus, which is thought to have surfaced in a Chinese seafood and poultry market, has spread to at least 191 countries, killing more than 1.6 million people and infecting more than 73.7 million.

Going from noticing a mystery illness in the middle of New Year’s celebrations to having a never-before-seen coronavirus infiltrate the world took all but a month. The global public health emergency continued to unfold so rapidly, it has seemed uncontrollable. But public health measures, travel restrictions, and other steps taken have managed to at least slow some of the spread. And scientific efforts led to vaccines developed within nine months in an unprecedented achievement.

SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is a novel virus. And although scientists have been studying it for about a year, there are still no treatments and many unknowns — here are 20 major myths about COVID-19.

Click here for the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic


To create a timeline of more than 50 key milestones in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, 24/7 Tempo reviewed press releases and announcements issued by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. We also reviewed scientific studies’ summary published in medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

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