Jan. 20: The World Health Organization confirms first cases found outside China.
Jan. 21: U.S. announces its first confirmed case, in Washington state.
Jan. 31: White House announces entry ban against foreign nationals who recently traveled to China, as U.S. declares a public health emergency.
Feb. 2: First confirmed death outside China, in the Philippines.
Feb. 6: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention begins shipping test kits to labs in all states. Possible first death in U.S., in California, later traced to this day.
Feb. 25: Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC contradicts President Donald Trump’s claim that the virus will be contained, enraging the president.
Feb. 26: Trump names Vice President Mike Pence to lead the coronavirus task force.
Feb. 28: Gov. Brian Kemp creates Georgia coronavirus task force.
Feb. 29: First known outbreak in a U.S. long-term care facility reported, in Washington state.
March 2: First confirmed cases reported in Georgia — a father and son from Fulton County who just returned from Italy.
March 5: Gov. Kemp gives press conference, acknowledges the heightened risk at long-term care facilities but reassures the public that the risk to most Americans is low.
President Donald Trump holds a photograph of the novel coronavirus as Dr. Steve Monroe, right, speaks to the news media during the president's visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 6, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Credit: Hyosub Shin
Credit: Hyosub Shin
• Trump tours the CDC in Atlanta without a mask, saying anyone who needs a test can get a test.
• Trump signs an $8 million emergency spending package for coronavirus prevention, preparation and response.
March 9: Pence takes control of clearing CDC communications about the virus.
• WHO officially labels the coronavirus as a pandemic.
• Trump makes primetime address, saying that for “the vast majority of Americans, the risk is very, very low.” He also bans most travel from 26 European countries.
• The NBA suspends all of its games until further notice.
• The first passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship arrive at Dobbins Air Reserve Base for quarantine. The last ones would leave the base on March 26.
• Savannah cancels its St. Patrick’s Day parade and festivities.
• Georgia confirms its first coronavirus death, a 67-year-old hospitalized at Wellstar Kennestone.
• The state also records its first confirmed cases in a senior care facility, in Cherokee County.
• Fulton County School System announces closure of all buildings starting at midnight. Cobb County closes buildings four days later. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announces teleworking for nonessential employees.
• Trump declares national emergency. Federal government restricts visits to nursing homes.
• Major League Soccer suspends its games for 30 days.
• Georgia Legislature suspends its session.
Georgia Rep. Sheri Gilligan, left, R-Cumming, and Rep. Philip Singleton, right, R-Sharpsburg, talk among a sea of empty desks on March 13, 2020, the last day that the Georgia Legislature met before the session was suspended. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Credit: Alyssa Pointer
Credit: Alyssa Pointer
• Gov. Kemp declares a public health state of emergency and calls up approximately 2,000 Georgia National Guard troops to help with the COVID-19 response. Trump would approve the declaration on March 29.
• Chief Justice Harold Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia declares statewide judicial emergency.
• U.S. extends European travel ban to include the U.K. and Ireland.
• CDC recommends that for eight weeks, all events with more than 50 people be canceled or postponed.
• Georgia later records its first COVID-related death at a nursing home on this day, in Palmyra.
• Mayor Bottoms issues citywide state of emergency prohibiting public gatherings of more than 250 people.
• White House issues first social distancing guidelines, which include dismissing school.
• Major League Baseball announces indefinite delay to its 2020 season.
• Kemp and the Georgia Health Care Association urge but don’t require restriction of all visitors to long-term care facilities. Kemp closes all Georgia public schools in districts that hadn’t already closed.
• Mayor Bottoms further tightens limits on gatherings to no more than 50 people through March.
• The Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola announce temporary closings. Other metro Atlanta attractions and museums do the same.
March 17: NCAA cancels college basketball championships. The men’s Final Four was to take place in Atlanta.
• U.S. and Canada close borders to all nonessential traffic. Trump suspends refugee admissions.
• Trump also signs the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, with provisions for paid sick leave, free testing and expanded unemployment benefits.
• Trump promotes use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 at a White House daily coronavirus briefing.
• Kemp uses $20 million of governor’s emergency fund to purchase medical supplies and equipment.
• Atlanta orders businesses to close.
• Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey orders that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should immediately self-isolate.
• Kemp bans gatherings of more than 10 people.
• Mayor Bottoms signs a 14-day stay-at-home order for the city of Atlanta. DeKalb County enacts a voluntary curfew.
• The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which were scheduled to start July 24, are postponed until summer 2021.
• Trump suggests that Easter could be the date on which to reopen the country.
• U.S. death toll reaches 1,000.
• Kemp extends closure of schools to April 24 and extends unemployment benefits for Georgians.
• Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announces cancellation of the remainder of its season, with some shows rescheduled.
• Trump signs the CARES Act into law and issues an executive order under the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing of medical resources needed to fight the virus.
• CDC reports that asymptomatic patients could spread the disease.
• Mayor Bottoms issues stay-in-place order but deems certain businesses essential.
March 31: Kemp announces deployment of 100 Georgia National Guard members to help control infections in long-term care facilities. He also announces plans for public colleges to increase test processing capacity.
• Kemp announces that K-12 schools will remain closed for the school year.
• Georgia’s largest hospitals ask patients with mild symptoms not to come in to request a test, citing test scarcity.
• The Cobb Galleria Centre and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre announce their closure until further notice.
Gov. Brian Kemp, during a news conference at Liberty Plaza on April 1, 2020, orders that all Georgia K-12 schools are to be closed until the end of the academic school year. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Credit: Alyssa Pointer
Credit: Alyssa Pointer
April 2: Kemp issues a statewide shelter-in-place order for the next day through April 13, overriding any orders by local governments.
• Trump announces CDC recommendation that all Americans wear a mask when they go outside, but also says, “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
• Georgia releases first list of senior care facilities with outbreaks.
• U.S. death toll surpasses 10,000.
• CVS Health opens first drive-through rapid-testing location in Atlanta, although testing remains rationed.
April 7: Athens nursing home acknowledges that 10 residents had died of the coronavirus.
April 8: Kemp extends the public health state of emergency through May 31 and extends the shelter-at-home order through April 30.
April 13: Kemp suspends Georgia’s anti-mask statute.
April 14: Trump announces the U.S. will suspend funding to the World Health Organization, pending a review of its COVID-19 response.
April 15: Georgia DPH announces expansion in testing and says anyone with symptoms can receive a test.
• Trump unveils guidelines for reopening the country. States would need to meet six metrics that demonstrate a downward trajectory of cases.
• Georgia reports the unemployment rate for March rose to 4.2% from historic low of 3.1% in February.
April 19: Federal government requires nursing homes to report cases of COVID-19 to the CDC and to notify residents and families about them.
April 20: Kemp issues guidelines for reopening gyms, bowling alleys, barber shops and other businesses starting April 24.
April 21: Trump announces temporary suspension of immigration into the U.S.
April 22: Trump says he strongly disagreed with Kemp’s decision to reopen certain facilities, saying it was too soon.
• Trump suggests ingesting disinfectants to fight the coronavirus.
• Kemp orders social distancing for all residents and limits gatherings to no more than 10 people.
Members of the Georgia National Guard infection control team disinfect a resident's room at Legacy Transitional Care in Atlanta on April 19, 2020. (Curtis Compton / firstname.lastname@example.org)
Credit: Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services begins distributing $20 billion to health care providers.
• The Food and Drug Administration warns against the use of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug touted by Trump.
• Georgia gyms, nail salons, tattoo parlors and some other businesses can reopen.
April 27: Kemp allows in-person dining to resume if restaurants adhere to guidelines, which include face coverings for employees.
April 29: Georgia DPH reports that nearly 400 Georgia poultry workers have tested positive.
April 30: White House officials shelve the CDC’s draft guidelines on reopening.
• Trump moves to replace Christi Grimm, the HHS deputy inspector general who released a report in April on personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages.
• Kemp lifts the shelter-in-place order for most of the state’s residents.
• FDA grant emergency use authorization for the drug remdesivir.
May 3: CDC puts long-term care facilities in the highest priority group for testing.
Some of the more than two dozen specimen collection volunteers give the thumbs-up as they begin hundreds of free COVID-19 tests at a pop-up site at the House of Hope in Decatur on May 4, 2020. More than 200 motorists arrived for the opening. (Curtis Comptonemail@example.com)
May 5: Trump says he intends to wind down the coronavirus task force. He reverses this decision the next day.
May 6: Dr. Kathleen Toomey orders those with COVID-19 and those who have come into contact with COVID-19 to immediately isolate for 14 days. Failure to comply with the order is a misdemeanor.
May 11: Pence strongly recommends to governors that all nursing home residents and staff be tested within the next two weeks. Trump declares that the U.S. has prevailed in terms of testing.
May 16: CDC quietly posts a 60-page reopening guidance document, reduced from the original 68 pages.
May 18: Federal government issues guidance for state and local officials on the reopening of nursing homes.
May 20: Georgia DPH acknowledges that it had included antibody tests with diagnostic tests in its tally of the number of tests completed, inflating published test counts by about 14%.
• Kemp allows overnight summer camps to host campers starting May 31.
• Georgia reports unemployment rate at all-time high of 11.9% in April, later revised to 12.6%.
• The Atlanta Track Club announces that the AJC Peachtree Road Race won’t be held on July Fourth but will be rescheduled as a virtual race on Thanksgiving.
May 27: U.S. death toll surpasses 100,000.
May 28: Kemp issues order allowing bars and nightclubs to reopen with restrictions on June 1. The order also extends the public health state of emergency until July 12.
May 29: CDC holds briefing, its first since March 9.
May 30: Trump terminates U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization.
• Coronavirus deaths among Georgia long-term care residents top 1,000.
• State releases 10-page document of guidelines for reopening schools in the fall.
June 4: Once the state’s most dire hot spot, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital announces that it has no COVID-19 patients left in its main hospital, and 42 in Phoebe North.
June 11: Kemp issues executive order that ends the shelter-in-place mandate for most residents over 65, enables live entertainment venues to reopen on July 1, and permits larger gatherings.
June 15: FDA revokes emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine.
June 16: Capacity limits at Georgia restaurants are lifted and bars are allowed to accommodate up to 50 people. Employees are no longer required to wear masks unless engaging directly with patrons.
June 19: Georgia reports the unemployment rate in May dropped to 9.7% from an all-time high of 12.6% in April.
June 24: Georgia Senate approves a House bill to limit legal liability for businesses and health care providers that get sued by workers or customers who contract COVID-19 at their establishments.
Dr. Josh Mugele, an emergency physician who works at Northeast Georgia Health System, volunteered to go to New York when the coronavirus pandemic overwhelmed hospitals there. He returned from there to treat the COVID-19 wave as it surged in northeast Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Josh Mugele.)
Credit: Courtesy of Josh Mugele
Credit: Courtesy of Josh Mugele
June 29: Kemp extends public health state of emergency and COVID-19 safety measures, such as a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is 6 feet between each person.
June 30: For the first time since 1901, baseball’s minor league season is canceled, forcing layoffs and pay cuts.
• Dr. Anthony Fauci tells a Senate committee that a resurgence of COVID-19 could result in the country seeing as many as 100,000 new cases per day.
• Mask mandate takes full effect in Savannah, the first Georgia city to impose such a requirement. Athens issues one later that week.
July 6: Mayor Bottoms announces she tested positive for COVID-19.
• Trump lashes out at CDC over its school reopening guidelines, saying they’re too tough. He also threatens to cut off federal funding to schools that don’t reopen.
• Atlanta mandates masks.
July 10: Mayor Bottoms returns city of Atlanta to Phase 1 of her reopening plan, under which residents should wear masks, restaurants should close dining rooms, nonessential city facilities should close, and individuals should leave home only for essential trips.
• Health and Human Services requires that hospitals now send their coronavirus data to HHS instead of to the CDC.
• Kemp bans cities and counties from mandating masks while also extending the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
• Kemp files lawsuit against Atlanta over its mask mandate.
• State reports unemployment rate in June dropped to 7.6%.
July 22: HHS announces an agreement with Pfizer for large-scale production and delivery of 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine once it is approved and manufactured.
• CDC issues new school reopening guidelines, titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall.”
• Major League Baseball begins a shortened season. Although a total of 40 games would be postponed, the season ended with a World Series champion on Oct. 27.
July 24: Hospitals across Georgia report being jammed with patients as they try to manage a new surge of cases.
July 27: First of 30,000 volunteers receive COVID-19 experimental vaccine.
Candles line the wall before a memorial service for Kyle Gregory at Brookwood High School on July 24, 2020. Gregory, who played football at Brookwood and then went to Georgia Southern University, was one of the younger Georgians who died of COVID-19. (Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
July 28: Two Georgia regions run out of beds in intensive care units, and hospitals elsewhere struggle to accommodate a new surge of COVID-19 patients.
July 30: The NBA restarts its season with a limited number of teams in a “bubble” format with daily testing and regulations. The season would end on Oct. 11.
• Delta Air Lines says it plans to resume some international flights from Atlanta in August.
• Kemp extends Georgia’s public health state of emergency and renews COVID-19 restrictions.
• Georgia finishes infection surveys of all nursing homes, among the last states to complete the required inspections.
Aug. 3: Georgia World Congress Center reopens with surge beds to treat COVID-19 patients.
• White House Task Force warns of widespread and expanding COVID-19 infections in Georgia. The report calls for a mask mandate, closing some businesses and other measures.
• Kemp drops lawsuit against Atlanta over its mask mandate.
Aug. 15: Kemp orders all residents and visitors to practice social distancing and refrain from gathering. The order also strongly encourages masks and for the first time allows local mask mandates.
Aug. 18: White House Coronavirus Task Force says Georgia reported the highest rate of new cases in the nation for the previous week.
Aug. 19: Kemp pushes back against reports of high COVID-19 infection rates in the state, lashing out at the leaked White House task force report.
Aug. 20: State announces July unemployment rate of 7.6%, unchanged from the previous month but more than double July 2019′s level of 3.4%.
A Cartersville Middle School student wears a face mask while participating in Spanish class on the third day of school, Aug. 20, 2020. The school experimented with a hybrid model, combining social distancing for in-person classrooms with online learning for students at home. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Aug. 22: Georgia surpasses 5,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Aug. 28: Georgia DPH reports that a 1-year-old Cobb County boy had died of COVID-19, the youngest victim in the state.
Aug. 31: Kemp extends order on social distancing until Sept. 15. He also renews public health state of emergency through Oct. 10.
Sept. 4: CDC issues order barring landlords from evicting anyone from residential properties for failure to pay rent. The order extends through year’s end.
Sept. 5: The 2020-21 college football season begins, with some conferences sitting out and limited schedules overall. The following weeks would see a large number of games canceled or postponed.
Sept. 10: Kemp allows remote administration of oaths, making it possible to resume grand juries.
Sept. 11: CDC reports that asymptomatic children can spread COVID-19.
Sept. 15: Kemp issues order creating rules to allow visitors to return to long-term facilities.
Sept. 17: State reports August unemployment rate dropped to 5.7%.
Sept. 25: Georgia DPH decides to withhold information about infections at each school, saying the public has no legal right to information about school outbreaks.
Sept. 28: The world marks 1 million COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Sept. 29: CDC reports that from early August to early September, COVID-19 infections among people 18 to 22 years old increased more than 50%.
Oct. 1: The NFL, which had played without a “bubble” format, begins postponing games because of COVID-19 infections. Games over the next several weeks would continue to be postponed or rescheduled.
Oct. 2: President Trump announces that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Oct. 15: Kemp extends state’s coronavirus restrictions until Oct. 31.
• Georgia DPH submits a 56-page COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan to the CDC.
• Georgia surpasses 7,500 recorded coronavirus deaths.
Oct. 20: CDC reports on excess deaths associated with COVID-19 and says the deaths reported so far might underestimate the total impact on mortality.
Oct. 22: FDA approves the antiviral drug remdesivir as the first treatment for COVID-19.
Oct. 30: Kemp renews his order on a public health state of emergency.
Oct. 31: White House Task Force warns that private social gatherings are a major factor in the continued spread of COVID-19 in Georgia.
Nov. 3: Georgia surpasses 8,000 recorded coronavirus deaths.
Nov. 4: U.S. for the first time records 100,000 new confirmed infections in a single day.
Nov. 9: Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech say early results show their vaccine may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. This is a two-shot vaccine.
• White House Task Force moves Georgia back into the red zone.
• NBA announces a 72-game schedule for the 2020-21 season to begin on Dec. 22.
Nov. 13: Kemp renews his order on a public health state of emergency, extending the provisions through Nov. 30.
Nov. 15: White House Task Force warns that an increase in test positivity in Georgia is “an early sign of future deterioration.”
• Moderna says early data shows its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective and that it has a longer refrigeration shelf life after super-cold distribution.
• Kemp says the Georgia National Guard will lead the state’s distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available. He says counties and hospitals are planning for cold storage.
• The Hill reports that the CDC has quietly removed from its website controversial guidance that pushed for schools to reopen in the fall.
• FDA authorizes the first COVID-19 test for self-testing at home.
• Confirmed deaths in Georgia long-term care facilities top 2,800.
COVID-19 test kits sit ready for use during a DeKalb County Department of Health drive-through testing site in Doraville on Nov. 17, 2020. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
• World Health Organization says someone in Europe is dying from COVID-19 every 17 seconds, while in the United States, CNN says the coronavirus is killing one American every minute.
• With U.S. death toll surpassing 250,000, CDC urges people to stay home for Thanksgiving.
• State reports unemployment rate dropped to 4.5% in October.
Nov. 20: Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech file for emergency use authorization for their vaccine.
Nov. 21: FDA issues emergency use authorization for IV infusion of the investigational medicines Casirivimab and Imdevimab to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 cases.
• AstraZeneca announces that its vaccine is up to 90% effective.
• Despite CDC guidance that people not travel for Thanksgiving, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport sees its busiest day since the early part of the pandemic.
• AstraZeneca acknowledges that a “manufacturing error” may have compromised the results of its promising vaccine tests.
• Trump issues proclamation encouraging all Americans to gather on Thanksgiving.
Nov. 30: Moderna files for emergency use authorization for its vaccine.
Dec. 1: CDC advisory panel recommends that first vaccine doses should go to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
• British officials authorize the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use, marking the first time a coronavirus vaccine has been officially approved by any country.
• Coronavirus patients in U.S. hospitals exceed 100,000 for the first time, nearly double the number from spring during the virus’s deadly first wave, according to The New York Times.
Dec. 3: Georgia DPH reports that the regions around Athens and Valdosta each had just two ICU beds remaining.
Dec. 4: Georgia sets a single-day coronavirus record for confirmed and probable cases.
Dec. 7: Georgia surpasses 9,000 COVID-related deaths.
Dec. 8: Margaret Keenan, 90, becomes the first person in the U.K. to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
• Georgia surpasses 10,000 COVID-related deaths.
• FDA allows the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
• The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine begins to be administered in the United States. Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, becomes the first person in the U.S to receive it.
• Five nurses in the Savannah area receive the state’s first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials.
Dec. 17: The FDA authorizes the Moderna vaccine for emergency use.
Dec. 20: The CDC advisory panel recommends that the second wave of vaccinations should be given to people 75 and older, as well as certain front-line essential workers such as first responders, teachers, postal employees and public transit workers.
Dec. 28: Residents and staff at Georgia’s long-term care facilities are scheduled to begin receiving vaccinations.