In Your Voice Ohio community dialogues, Ohioans expressed dissatisfaction with messaging about the coronavirus, saying that there was conflicting information and rules that changed. Part of the confusion also grew out of the changing understanding of how the coronavirus attacked the body and was transmitted among people.
Below is a timeline of events that help with understanding Ohioans’ concerns. Julie Fulton of the Columbus Dispatch and Doug Oplinger of Your Voice Ohio gathered the key dates and events.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that a man in the state of Washington who recently visited family in Wuhan China has the coronavirus.
U.S. confirmed: 1 case, no deaths.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says that at the moment the virus is “not a major threat” but should be taken seriously and “the situation could change.”
U.S. confirmed: 6 cases, no deaths.
The World Health Organization declares a global health emergency requiring international action. A day later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares a national health emergency.
U.S. confirmed: 11 cases, no deaths.
No one knows until April, but the country’s first fatality occurs in California. It would take two months to confirm that the Santa Clara County resident died of the coronavirus and that community transmission had begun.
U.S. confirmed: 16 cases, no deaths.
At a rally in New Hampshire, Donald Trump claims that, “in theory” once the weather warms up, “the virus” will “miraculously” go away. Scientific evidence at the time suggested otherwise, and his statement has since been proven incorrect.
U.S. confirmed: 17 cases, no deaths.
CDC confirms on Feb. 26 that the virus is spreading in California. As the need for testing grows, the CDC says a day later that its first batch of test kits are flawed. On Feb. 28, the first confirmed death is announced.
U.S. confirmed: 66 cases, 1 death.
The U.S. Surgeon General tweets: “They (masks) are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching #coronavirus.”
U.S. confirmed: 66 cases, 5 deaths.
One of the last states, Ohio receives coronavirus tests from the CDC. Four days later, three residents of Cuyahoga County test positive. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declares a state of emergency.
U.S. confirmed: 152 cases, 20 deaths.
On March 18, Toledo attorney Mark Wagoner Sr, 76, becomes Ohio’s first known fatality. His death came in a tumultuous week in which DeWine orders schools, bars and restaurants, gyms, sports and recreation centers, and theaters closed. On May 16, health director Dr. Amy Acton declares an emergency and orders that the 2020 Primary Election be delayed. DeWine finishes the week by ordering non-essential businesses to close and hospitals to halt non-essential procedures. With cases exploding, President Trump declares a national emergency, encourages social distancing and invokes the Defense Production Act, giving him the power to divert production capacity to hospital equipment and testing.
In those 10 days, the U.S. added 13,941 cases and 425 deaths.
U.S. confirmed on March 22: 15,219 cases, 480 deaths.
President signs $2 trillion aid bill passed by Congress as one of every six Ohioans loses his or her job, according to April numbers.
U.S. confirmed: 68,334 cases, 1,776 deaths.
Trump claims that, “The peak in the death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,” and that he expects that, by June 1, “we will be well on our way to recovery.” At the same time, the White House recommends that social distancing guidelines remain in place.
U.S. confirmed: 103,321 cases, 2,835 deaths. (By June 1, the death toll would exceed 101,000.)
As cases and deaths explode, the CDC recommends the wearing of face masks. President Trump says its optional. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
U.S. confirmed: 213,600 cases, 7,782 deaths.
“What do you have to lose?” Trump asks when touting the malaria drug hydroxycholorquine or the related chloroquine as possible treatments for COVID-19. There is no scientific research showing that the drug is effective.
U.S. confirmed: 363,321 cases, 15,196 deaths.
With every state now reporting cases and deaths growing at a rate of the 9-11 terrorist attacks every two days, the White House suggests easing social distancing guidelines.
U.S. confirmed: 604,070 cases, 32,590 deaths.
Gov. DeWine declares face masks mandatory in the workplace and for shoppers and allows some businesses to reopen. The following day, he changes direction, declares that face masks are recommended, not mandatory. In Ohio, 806 new cases and 71 new deaths are reported in those two days, bringing the cumulative totals to 16,769 infected and 799 dead.
U.S. confirmed: 960,916 cases, 54,749 deaths.
Armed protesters gather outside the State Capitol during Gov. DeWine’s daily coronavirus update. They express displeasure with the economic turmoil and projections over how many would be sickened and die. The following day, protesters gather outside the home of health director Dr. Amy Acton. Antisemitic statements provoke angry response from the governor. On May 1-2, an additional 1,300 Ohioans test positive for the virus and 46 deaths are reported.
U.S. confirmed: 1,067,627 cases, 62,947 deaths.
As medical research continues, the CDC over the last few weeks offers new discoveries. Including six new symptoms and a startling announcement on May 22: One of every three people who tests positive shows no symptoms, suggesting that the spread may be occurring when people don’t know they’re sick.
U.S. confirmed: 1,547,973 cases, 92,277 deaths.
Creating confusion over the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, respected medical journals retract studies that suggest the drug may increase the risk of death. However, the retraction was due to an inability to see the study’s supporting data, not its accuracy. Over the next two weeks, the FDA would withdraw emergency authorization for use of the drug and the World Health Organization would end its study of its effectiveness. Trump, meanwhile, would continue to encourage its use into July.
U.S. confirmed: 1,857,872 cases, 105,620 deaths.
After weeks of angry protests and threats, Dr. Amy Acton resigns as the state’s chief health director, though staying as an adviser. Although more than 40,000 had contracted the virus by this time and 2,490 had died, Ohio’s death rate was far lower than neighbors Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
U.S. confirmed: 1,968,331 cases, 109,416 deaths.
The New England Journal of Medicine publishes a study that confirms a growing suspicion that COVID-19, while transmitted by airways and manifesting itself in the lungs, creates its biggest threat to the cardiovascular system, attacking arteries and organs. As such significant research is released, 125,000 in the U.S. and 3,000 Ohioans already have died.
Following the lead of President Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in an interview on CNN, said all children should return to school, although she said there was no federal plan to help schools do that safely. The CDC, however, said that while children are less likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19, they nonetheless carry the virus and can infect adults while showing no symptoms.
U.S. confirmed: 3,163,581 cases, 127,554 deaths.
After an attempt to loosen restrictions and reopen businesses, Ohio’s cases were growing at more than 1,000 per day and approaching all-time records. Mandatory masks in some counties appeared to be working, so Gov. DeWine orders that masks be used in public places in all 88 counties. He also ordered that people traveling to states with high rates of infection should self-quarantine for two weeks upon return. Ohio’s case count has risen to 78,742 and number of deaths to 3,325.
U.S. confirmed: 3,805,524 cases, 135,344 deaths
With Ohio cases still growing at more than 1,000 per day, Gov. DeWine leaves it up to school districts to decide whether they would have in-person instruction or online classes. However, he ordered that children must wear masks if they participate in in-person classes.
U.S. confirmed: 4,836,930 cases, 153,881 deaths
The Big Ten conference cancels the 2020 football season. President Trump says cancelling the season is a “tragic mistake.” Of the football players, he said: “… these football players, they’re very young, strong people, and physically, I mean they’re physically in extraordinary shape, so they’re not going to have a problem.”
U.S. confirmed: 4,999,815 cases, 156,249 deaths
Gov. DeWine issues a statement that high schools can participate in fall sports, thus leaving the controversial decision up to local officials.
U.S. confirmed: 5,354,013 cases, 163,585 deaths
After being ridiculed by President Trump for delays in emergency approval to use blood plasma as an experimental treatment, the FDA issues the emergency order to release plasma for use. Three days later, as the medical community questioned the FDA’s research, the FDA director apologized for making false statements about the effectiveness of the treatment.
U.S. confirmed: 5,567,217 cases, 168,863 deaths