Pandemic Timeline

Witness the critical events that have led to over 600,000 COVID-19-related deaths in the US, and what the government did about it. Changes are underway in the Biden administration, but the key to understanding our current situation lies in the final year of the Trump presidency.


During 2014
The Obama Administration sets up the Global Health Security Unit, attached to the White House’s National Security Council. Its purpose: to monitor outbreaks of infectious diseases around the world and quickly move to counter them. A lengthy playbook is created to deal with such contingencies.
30 members of Trump's transition team meet with Obama officials to go over a pandemic simulation. It predicts a disease coming from Asia, and concludes that the biggest risks are lack of containment and shortages of key medical resources like personal protective equipment and ventilators.
The National Security Council’s pandemic response team tasks Tom Bossert to develop a comprehensive biodefense strategy, to be directed by retired Admiral Tim Ziemer.
United States Intelligence creates a "Worldwide Threat Assessment." Its mission is to warn us of any “virulent microbe” capable of person-to-person spread.
Trump fires Bossert per the request of incoming National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Trump now eliminates the NSC Pandemic Response team (and with it director Ziemer). This leaves no senior Trump administration officials focused solely on global health security. [By January 2020, when a briefing on the Wuhan viral outbreak gets convened, just one-third of the participants from January 2017 simulation are remaining in the executive branch.]
The Worldwide Threat Assessment warns that the United States and the world remain vulnerable to a new flu pandemic.
August 2019
The administration's Health and Human Services department (HHS) completes CRIMSON CONTAGION, an eight month drill exploring federal, state, and NGO response to a hypothetical infection arriving in the US from China. The exercise concludes that the US lacks the capacity to manufacture PPE, needles, syringes, antivirals, and respiratory equipment in the event of a major infectious disease outbreak. This is due primarily to their manufacture being off-shored. No actions are initiated by the Trump administration in the wake of these findings.
The GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY INDEX is released. This index is based on a study by Johns Hopkins and public health actors probing for weaknesses in world nations' abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks. All countries are seen to have gaps in capabilities. The report calls on the UN to hold a "heads of state" summit in 2020 to address a growing risk of outbreaks. [Ironically, the US was felt to be the least ill-prepared, based upon our highly advanced health infrastructure, and an assumption that we would follow "best practices" guidelines.]
One day after the GHS Index report is issued, Joe Biden tweeted: “We are not prepared for a pandemic. Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security. We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats, and mobilizes the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores.”
November 2019
The Trump administration eliminates the post of an American epidemiologist embedded in China’s disease control agency. Her job was to train Chinese epidemiologists to deploy to outbreaks and help investigate, track, and contain the pathogen. [In Spring 2021, it is reported that three members of the Wuhan Institute of Virology became ill with a new respiratory disease, which some suspect was due to coronavirus. This highly significant assertion - suggesting the possibility of a leak from the WIV lab - remains under investigation.]

Events Before December 2019 Summary

Health experts in the US who have worried about novel contagions arising in Asia like SARS or Bird Flu conclude that the capacity of the United States to respond to such a development is a serious concern. Warnings to this effect are ignored by Donald Trump, who not only fails to take action, but stands down our monitoring. Unfortunately, by November 2019, it has become evident to US intelligence that a long-feared disease outbreak is probably underway in China.

December 2019

China admits to the first cases of novel coronavirus in Wuhan.
The Chinese note 41 cases of pneumonia-like syndrome by this date, which are later confirmed to be COVID-19. Many (though not all) such cases were associated with Wuhan’s wet market.
China’s doctors confirm an outbreak of a SARS-like virus causing pneumonia. By this date, there are 180 cases reported, which tests later confirmed to be COVID-19.
Wuhan’s Center for Disease Control sends an internal memo directing hospitals to look into causes of their pneumonias. The ER director at Wuhan Central Hospital puts the word SARS onto data she forwards. When ophthalmologist Li Wenliang passes this apparent confirmation of a coronavirus onto WeChat, it gets more widely disseminated than the small group he intended and lands him in trouble with Chinese authorities.
China officially reports to the World Health Organization the outbreak of a new virus with symptoms of pneumonia. Fifteen Trump administration officials are embedded at WHO headquarters in Geneva. In the weeks to follow, American officials and scientists engage in WHO deliberations and decisions.

December 2019 Summary

A novel virus spreads through China causing a cluster of pneumonias in Hubei province. The disease is soon shown to be related to 2003’s SARS virus, which almost created a pandemic. Doctors in Wuhan connect this virus to virulent cases of respiratory disease. The specific possibility of another coronavirus moving from animals to humans in China had been feared by epidemiologists since the prior outbreaks of SARS and a similar deadly coronavirus causing MERS.

January 2020

Classified briefings begin in Washington on China's new virus. In attendance are CDC Director Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Afterward, Azar tells his chief of staff to notify the National Security Council, saying, “This is a very big deal.” Information on the virus’s potential to spread is put in the President's Daily Briefing, but Azar does not converse with Trump about it for another 15 days.

In China, the authorities interrogate Dr. Li Wenliang and censure him for “publishing untrue statements about seven confirmed SARS cases.”
The Chinese announce they have identified the new disease as a coronavirus. The Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Program at the World Health Organization points out that, as a respiratory pathogen, human-to-human transmission is possible.
The American CDC issues an alert to clinicians to be on the lookout for patients with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to Wuhan, China. Dr. Li, who has returned to work in Wuhan, contracts the virus from a patient.
The genetic sequence of the virus is put in the NIH’s databank.
The WHO is briefed on the genetics of the virus. It does not advise a ban on international travel.
Wuhan begins screening all departing air/rail/train passengers. Since those without symptoms can be carriers, and many who are ill do not mount fevers, this renders the scanning of travelers by temperature checks imperfect at best.
German researchers produce - and release - the world’s first test kit for COVID-19.
Europe’s CDC publishes a summary of 44 cases in China. Imperial College in London estimates that the actual number must be close to 1,700.

America’s CDC sends workers to SFO, LAX, and JFK airport to assist in the screening of passengers returning from China. It is unclear how many (if any) returnees were quarantined as a result.
After trying for weeks to get Donald Trump on the phone to warn him of this new virus, Secretary Azar finally succeeds, but Trump interrupts him during the call to instead focus on criticism of Azar's handling of a ban on vaping products, which Trump fears will hurt him politically.
South Korea and the US both confirm their first cases of COVID-19. South Korea mobilizes its health agencies and medical companies to deal with the contagion through the standard approaches of aggressive testing, contact tracing, and isolation. The Trump administration, in contrast, does virtually no testing for the next six weeks.
US CDC confirms first case of 2019 novel coronavirus in the United States in the state of Washington.
Asked about the virus at the Davos Summit, Trump says: “We have it totally under control… It’s one person coming from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
The WHO warns the viral outbreak has reached Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore. It urges all countries to prepare containment measures. These include active surveillance and early detection. In China, Hubei province aggressively locks down.
South Korea engages its corporations to mass produce the needed test kits.
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien warns Trump during a briefing that COVID-19 represents the “biggest national security threat” of his presidency. His deputy Matt Pottinger, a Mandarin-speaking former journalist with good Chinese contacts, confirms its seriousness. O’Brien opines that it will be as bad as the 1918 flu pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans. Pottinger adds that asymptomatic spread is now confirmed (he was told by Chinese sources that 50% of people had no symptoms). That carriers of the disease can be symptom-free makes it clear that only testing can detect individuals who are infectious, but the US at this point still has limited testing capacity.
The WHO declares COVID-19 a Global Emergency. There are now 98 known cases in 18 countries outside China. It urges all nations to review plans, find gaps, and evaluate resources needed to identify, isolate, and treat.

HHS Secretary Azar again tries to warn Trump of the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak. Trump calls him an “alarmist.”

In Chicago, the first person-to-person transmission in the US is documented. A woman returning from Wuhan comes down with the virus, then passes it to her husband who did not go to China.
Trump announces travel restrictions on arrivals from China, but during January, 390,000 passengers arrive unrestricted. Trump later claims the ban was his idea - and that he was the first in the world to do so. In fact, aides had urged him strongly to act, and by this date 20 other nations had implemented restrictions on arrivals from China.

In Wuhan, Dr. Li publishes an account of his experiences with the police. The post goes viral, causing many around the world to wonder why the Chinese doctors who provided early warnings about the disease were being silenced by the authorities.

January 2020 Summary

The officials in China are not forthcoming about how extensive this new coronavirus contagion has been in their country. A severe lockdown is put in place in China, yet thousands of infected individuals have already left and spread the virus all over the world.

A failure to halt the flow of passengers flying in from China insures that the US is seeded with this coronavirus for which human beings have limited immunity. This is exactly the scenario long feared by health authorities in the US and around the world. In America, the alarm is not sounded with vigor, owing to a standing down of groups specifically set up to monitor such developments. In January, as a consequence of such inaction by the Trump administration, virtually nothing is done to counter this threat.

February 2020

In a pre-Super Bowl interview, Donald Trump comments about arrivals from China and says, "we pretty much shut it down." In fact, between this date and April 1, ~40,000 more people come to the US on direct flights from China.
South Korea ships thousands of test kits overseas. America's CDC produces enough to test ~150,000 people, but problems immediately develop with them.
The WHO sends 250,000 test kits around the world. The administration declines them in favor of tests developed domestically.

The US experiences its first death from COVID in California. [It was not recognized as such at first, as so little testing was being done at this point. This was confirmed at autopsy only on April 21.]
Trump tweets: “President Xi leads a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help.” The US does in fact help China. It ships them 18 tons of medical equipment including masks, gowns, and respirators, despite the possibility of needing them here on the home front.

Speaking with reporter Bob Woodward, Trump admits to knowing that the new coronavirus is highly contagious, and quite virulent: “It goes through the air Bob… You just breathe the air and that’s how its passed… It's more deadly than your strenuous [sic] flu.”
The CDC is the only agency in the US processing COVID tests. This causes great delay, and to make matters worse, it discovers that its test kits are faulty. The minimal testing being done grinds to a halt.
Trump says in a speech: “We have a very small number of people in the country right now. It's like around 12. Many are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape.”
The nation's second death due to COVID takes place in California.
Queried again about the dangers of the coronavirus, Trump claims: “I think it's going to work out fine… when we get into April the warmer weather has a negative effect on the virus.”
The Director General of the WHO claims that while the chance to contain the virus globally still exists, “the window of opportunity is narrowing.”

The CDC issues a press release noting it has deployed a team to work with doctors in Washington state in support of efforts to contact trace those people exposed to patients sick with respiratory illness, and presumed to have coronavirus.

CDC official Nancy Messonnier tells reporters COVID-19 likely to spread in US, and that the disruptions to daily life it produces could be severe. An enraged Trump, returning from India, calls Secretary Azar and threatens to fire Messonnier. Trump is outraged that such statements might spook the stock market. Trump then tweets: “Coronavirus is very well under control. We have few with it and those that have it are getting better. They’re all getting better. We’re doing a great job.”
Trump states: “Because of all we’ve done the risk to the American people is very low. 15 people. Within a couple of days it’s going to be down close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

HHS Secretary Azar is starting to be sidelined by Trump, who announces that he will put together a new Coronavirus Task Force headed by Vice President Mike Pence.
As concern over COVID grows, Trump tweets: “Only a very small number of cases in the US and China… numbers are going down.” At a White House reception this same day, he says: “It's going to disappear… one day it's like a miracle, it will disappear.”

At a press conference on the government’s response to COVID, Trump defends his actions in both eliminating the Global Health Security Unit established by Obama in 2017 and reducing the 2020 CDC budget, saying: “I'm a businessperson. I don't like having thousands of people around when you don't need them." To which he adds: "When we need them, we can get them back very quickly."
US testing resumes with a new test. By this point, the WHO has shipped 1.4M tests to countries around the world, but not the United States, which turned their tests down. The total number of tests conducted in the US at this point in time is, rather amazingly, numbered only in the hundreds.

The first death in the United States - recognized at the time as COVID - takes place in Washington state. For weeks, epidemiologists near Seattle have been convinced that the disease has been spreading person-to-person.
Late February
New Scientist magazine reports that COVID-19 has now spread to 70 countries. At this point, China is doing 1.6M tests per week, while South Korea is doing 10,000 a day. In stark contrast, by February 28 the US had done about 2,500 total.

February 2020 Summary

The US acts slowly to stem arrivals from China. In addition, it is NOT able to ramp up COVID-19 testing due to problems with the test that was developed in the US. Though only two Americans are reported as coronavirus deaths by this point, there is absolutely no doubt that many more went undetected.

Donald Trump continues to claim that the virus is not going to be a problem, and will soon “go away.” There is, of course, no evidence whatsoever to support this viewpoint. On the other hand, Trump is extremely concerned about the possible effects of COVID-19 news on the stock market, to which he feels his re-election chances are linked. From this point forward, he minimizes the fact that a pandemic has arrived on our shores, though it is later revealed that he is fully aware of its seriousness.

As a consequence of such posturing, no comprehensive national plan is devised for the pandemic, and standard epidemiological methods are resisted. This stands in contrast to other nations. American COVID testing flounders while contact tracing is stymied by lack of personnel. Masks are actually discouraged. [Insufficient social restrictions will eventually be put in place the following month, but discarded prematurely.]

March 2020

Responding to more queries about COVID-19, Trump states: “some people… won’t even go to a doctor or hospital and they’ll get better. There are many people like that."
South Korea sets up drive-through clinics capable of detecting viral infections within 10 minutes. By now, this nation of 52M people has performed 136,000 tests. Meanwhile, the US, with a population of 329M (over six times larger), has done fewer than 1,000.
Trump visits the Centers for Disease Control with its Director Redfield and HHS Secretary Azar. Trump praises his own uncanny ability to grasp the details of COVID-19 almost intuitively. Trump adds that his ability amazes medical professionals. At the CDC, he states: “anyone who wants a test can get a test.” This was flatly untrue at the time, and remained a lie from this date till the end of his term. [Trump would repeat this falsehood many times during the remainder of his time in the Oval Office.]

Off the California coast, the Grand Princess cruise ship with COVID-19-infected passengers aboard is in limbo. It was not given authorization to come into port and offload its sick. Trump says he does not want to see them offloaded. His reason is that they will only boost America’s number of official Covid cases, which to him is more important than treating the sick. Says Trump: “I like the numbers where they are. We don’t need the numbers to double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”
The March 7th issue of New Scientist magazine reports that COVID-19 has now spread to 70 countries. China was doing 1.6 million tests per week and South Korea upwards of 10,000 per day to screen their populations at this time. By Feb 28, the UK had tested 13,000 people. In contrast, the US had tested a total of about 2,500 people by this date. [This lack of early testing would thwart the ability of many nations, the US in particular, to contain the disease.]
Trump, at a donor event, lambastes those who are seeking to raise the nation’s general level of alarm about the virus: “They’re trying to scare everybody… destroy the country.”
The White House Coronavirus Task Force receives the Imperial College of London study which estimates that if the US government does not take swift and aggressive actions to counter Covid-19 spread, 2 million deaths could follow in the United States.
As US testing continues to slowly move forward, the numbers diagnosed with Covid-19 also slowly begin to rise. American cases now exceed 1,000, with 37 deaths reported.
Trump announces restrictions on travel from Europe. They are to go into effect March 14. [Later study of viral strains indicates that the East Coast got a strain which came through Europe, suggesting that people restricted from direct flights to the US from China in February may have first flown to Europe before it too faced restrictions on travel.]
Jared Kushner joins the Coronavirus Task Force. [His sole qualification is that he is a loyal Trump supporter.] Kushner is supposed to focus on the inadequate supply of medical equipment. Later, it is reported that Kushner urged Trump not to aggressively help those states hit hardest by the pandemic. His reason: these were not Trump’s political allies.
Asked at a press conference if he takes responsibility for the country’s delays in Covid testing, Trump replies: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” When a reporter then questions his dismantling of the pandemic response team, Trump calls the question “nasty.” He also claims to know nothing about it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, possibly the nation’s top physician in dealing with epidemics dating to his experiences during AIDS crisis, urges consideration of a national shutdown. Many European nations have already done this.
San Francisco Bay Area officials announce shelter-in-place regulations to go into effect the following day. They elect to move in the wake of no recommendations by federal or state health authorities to restrict people's activities, though the disease continues to spread across the nation.

Trump now reverses his prior rhetoric, and suggests that for 15 days Americans might want to work at home and avoid unnecessary shopping. Citizens are further suggested to avoid eating out and joining groups of greater than 10 people. No recommendation is made for anyone to wear a mask.
Trump admits to reporter Bob Woodward that he has been downplaying the dangers of COVID-19. He tells Woodward he is purposely doing so to avoid “creating a panic.” He also reveals that he is well aware this pandemic is not merely a disease of the elderly, stating: “It’s not just old, older people. Young people too. Plenty of young people.”
Over a 14-day period starting March 3rd, the US goes from 159 confirmed COVID cases to >100,000.

Trump now claims that “Nobody knew about the pandemic.” The reality is that international health authorities had predicted for decades that just such a thing would inevitably happen.

Trump also claims that the system he “inherited” was “obsolete and didn’t work.” He further claims - falsely - that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have been approved by the FDA.
Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts that Americans will have to stay home and practice social distancing. He estimates that they will need to do this for “at least several weeks.”
Armed with only anecdotal evidence from one rural New York doctor, Trump tweets: "HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine." [Multiple studies soon confirm that this drug combination has no real value for treating Covid, yet Trump and allies will persist in making this claim month after month as the pandemic continued its march across the nation.]
Seven days into his stay-at-home guidance, Trump reverses himself again. He now downplays the need for such actions, saying: “America will again, and soon, be open for business… we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.
The WHO warns that, with 46,500 cases and 600 deaths, the US stands to become the world’s Covid epicenter. One week earlier those numbers stood at just 6,300 cases and only 108 deaths.

Trump says he wants the country “back to work by Easter” (which is 19 days in the future). At a Texas town hall meeting, he states that: “In the last 8 days we’ve done more testing than South Korea has in 8 weeks.” While this number is (almost) true in absolute terms, the Koreans had in fact done 7x the number of tests as the USA on a per capita basis.
The same WHO spokesman who noted the possibility of the US becoming the next Covid epicenter also notes there is still time to turn things around. His formula for success, however, is to employ viral testing, perform contact tracing, and isolating the sick and exposed via quarantine. Unfortunately, none of these standard methods are being pursued with vigor in America.
The minimalist actions of the Trump administration to counter the contagion are declared (by Trump) to be a tremendous success, saying: “… think of the numbers… potentially 2 million people if we did nothing.” To this, he adds: “If the US death toll remains below 100,000 it would mean my administration had done a very good job.” [The actual death toll was over 400,000 as he left office.]
Trump states that even with mitigation the US might suffer 240,000 deaths.

March 2020 Summary

The implementation of social distancing is undertaken across the nation in a piecemeal fashion. There are wildly varied standards under federal, state, and local recommendations and regulations.

The universally recognized methods needed to control a pandemic – testing, contact tracing, and isolation as appropriate – are not being vigorously pursued in the US. Thus, during this month, cases explode across the country.

Parts of Europe are doing worse than the US at this time. In certain hard-hit areas, like Italy's Lombardy region, the public health systems get overwhelmed. Many worry that numerous American jurisdictions could follow this pattern. In the weeks that follow, many in fact do.

The lackadaisical response by US health authorities is clearly due to political considerations overriding public health concerns.

Trump’s conversations with Bob Woodward later show he was well aware of the true dangers of COVID-19.

April 2020

The CDC issues new guidelines: a lab test should be used to confirm COVID-19 as the cause of death.

Owing to shortages, however, tests are being conserved for the very ill across the US. As a consequence, the CDC notes that if no test is performed, it is acceptable to report COVID-19 on the death certificate if “circumstances are compelling” to a reasonable degree.

Once again, Trump falsely claims: “no one anticipated a pandemic.” He again blames Obama for lack of equipment and supplies, claiming (also falsely): “the shelves were bare.”
When he is asked if the US needs expanded COVID testing before re-opening its economy, Trump denies that there is any such need: “We want to have it, and we’re going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes.”
CDC Director Redfield sends the White House's Coronavirus Task Force step-by-step instructions on how to safely re-open businesses across the nation. The White House does not respond.
Trump claims in a press briefing (incorrectly) that he has "total authority" to overrule state governors and re-open the country. 24 hours later, he reverses himself yet again.
Trump tries to shift the blame for America's national failure to adequately test for COVID-19 onto the states: “The governors are supposed to do the testing. It’s up to the governors.”
Governors and state officials report shortages of reagents, swabs, etc. This restricts the ability to perform tests. Trump, meanwhile, releases his guidelines for re-opening the economy. It is more vague and less restrictive than the CDC's plan.
Trump continues to push for a reversal of social distancing measures and the shuttering of businesses. He tweets: “LIBERATE MINNESOTA, LIBERATE MICHIGAN, LIBERATE VIRGINIA and save your great 2nd amendment.” Armed protests erupt in state capitals. The states mentioned have Democratic governors taking a slower approach to reopening.

When asked what metrics will be used to re-open the country, Trump points to his head and says: “The metrics are right here.”
The US is finally doing 150,000 tests per day, but a Harvard panel states that the safe re-opening of businesses will require more like 5M tests per day by early June.
A study by the Veterans Administration shows no value to hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID.

Meanwhile, a study by research scholar De Kai suggests that there would be a significant reduction in infections if 80% of people simply wore masks.

Trump continues to advocate for hydroxychloroquine, while downplaying the usefulness of masks.

CDC director Redfield tells the Washington Post that winter may worsen the pandemic.
Trump tells the press that Robert Redfield was “totally misquoted” regarding a resurgence of the virus in winter. Trump notes, to the contrary: “it’s possible it won’t come back at all.”
In one of the most bizarre moments in presidential history, Donald Trump, at a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, suggests that UV light might be used inside the body (along with bleach injections) to fight Covid: "I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that." His remarks leave his medical advisors sitting in stunned silence.

Reacting to these astonishing statements, some companies and state agencies feel the need to issue warnings to the public about ingesting disinfectant. [Trump later claims he was being "sarcastic" when he suggested the internal use of bleach and ultraviolet light, but without a doubt he was not.]
Redfield again asks the White House to approve the CDC’s 63-page set of guidelines for the safe re-opening of the economy. He is told on April 30th that it will never see the light of day.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force holds what will be its last public briefing for a 2 month period. The next one on June 26 does not include Trump.

On about this date, the US reaches 1M cases of COVID-19; 50 days earlier it stood at just 436.
Some states lift coronavirus restrictions. None meet the standard (per Trump’s own guidelines) of seeing a 14 day decline in new COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that the states that are moving to reopen without adequate testing and tracing in place are bound to suffer disease outbreaks.

Trump, meanwhile, continues to pressure governors to reopen their states. He also encourages protesters to turn out and push for business reopenings.
By the end of April
At HHS, an "assistant director" is brought in to control PR. Michael Caputo, long-time Republican political operative with no background in medicine or science, takes control of media for the CDC, NIH, FDA, Dr. Fauci, and Alex Azar himself. Caputo stresses a need for loyalty to the president. Shockingly, he moves to censor the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

April 2020 Summary

The United States develops no comprehensive national pandemic plan through the month of April. Resources are not mobilized to produce the much needed Covid tests, nor are resources mobilized to produce the medical equipment required to combat the disease including masks, PPE, and ventilators. Thus, shortages continue for all of the above.

What controls are put in place by local and state officials (along with what limited federal restrictions exist) are under constant attack from the White House. Trump pushes to relax all standards. Masks are ridiculed. Health officials warn that reopening without adequate testing and tracing will bring about spikes in cases.  The national shortfall in testing and equipment are blamed by Trump on state governors and the prior Obama administration.

The effort to halt the virus in other nations generally involve far more restrictions than those put in place in the US. There is more per capita testing in most other advanced nations. This begins to slow the spread of contagion elsewhere. Italy, for example, only doubled its cases in April, while US cases increase by a factor of 5.5x (to over 1.1 million).

May 2020

Trump replaces HHS Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm. In April, Grimm had filed a report highlighting supply shortages and testing delays in the nation’s hospitals. This angered Trump, and may have played a role in his taking more direct control of HHS.
An epidemiology model cited by the White House revises its projections. In light of the reduced social distancing and increased mobility of Americans expected over the next week, the number of deaths expected by early August doubles to ~135,000. [That number was, in fact, achieved by July 8th.]

The New Yorker magazine reveals that epidemiologists in Washington state were unable to test for COVID in January as suspected cases did not meet a criteria of arrival from China. So, lab workers jury-rigged tests to confirm the presence of COVID and person-to-person spread.

Former CDC Director Tom Frieden opines that if New York state had implemented stay-at-home orders just ten days earlier, deaths might have been reduced 50-80 percent.
Trump visits a mask factory in Arizona, and refuses to wear a mask! He tells the press that the Coronavirus Task Force will soon wind down as the country moves into a “second phase” during the “aftermath” of the outbreak. For his part, Mike Pence tells the press that Trump is eyeing May 25th as the time to shift management of the pandemic into that aftermath phase. He adds that the country “could be in a very different place by late May…”
The USA is now performing 250,000 COVID tests each day.

Trump again blames the frightening rise in case numbers on the fact that we test for the disease! Rather astoundingly, he states: “If we did very little testing we wouldn’t have the most cases.”

Trump tells Bob Woodward he does not recall being briefed on January 28th that the virus would be the “biggest national security threat of his presidency.” He does not deny that he must have been told this, saying: “I’m sure he said it, you know? I’m sure he said it. Nice guy.”
The Associated Press reports that the Trump team buried the CDC’s detailed re-opening guide. More than half of reopening states have increasing case counts and/or positive tests, though they were advised that such numbers needed to be on the decline for safe reopening.
Trump again states that the virus “will just go away.” [It did not.]
Dr. Fauci testifies before the Senate that if states disregard guidelines for re-opening safely, “There is a real risk you will trigger an outbreak you cannot control.” He warns that it will not simply disappear. He also warns that a second wave is possible in the fall.
Trump calls Fauci’s warnings “unacceptable” and states that schools should re-open in the fall.

The US COVID-19 death toll now exceeds 78,000. This is more than double a typical flu season’s total, but these COVID deaths took place in just over ten weeks.

Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times explains why claims of inflated COVID numbers are wrong. Kristof cites massive under-reporting in April. Due to test shortages, many deaths could not be verified as COVID. He also points to a large number of excess deaths this year versus last. This number is completely consistent with the viral case figures.
Trump tells workers at a Pennsylvania factory: “If we didn’t do any testing we’d have very few cases,” suggesting yet again that it is the testing itself that is the problem, not the disease. This astonishing, oft-repeated assertion by Trump runs counter to science, medicine, and common sense.
Mid May
Trump stops receiving briefings from Dr. Fauci.
The CDC issues its guidelines for schools to re-open. Its recommendations include: staggered scheduling, masks, social distancing, closed communal spaces, and physical barriers.
Visiting a Michigan factory being re-tooled to make ventilators, Trump is asked by authorities to mask up. Trump refuses. He explains: “Not necessary, I’ve been tested,” which indicates that Trump does not understand mask use. He adds: “I don’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
Columbia University estimates that had Trump acted to mitigate viral spread just one week earlier -March 9 - he would have saved 36,000 lives by May 3rd. Acting two weeks earlier - March 2 - he would have saved 54,000 lives. Given the May 3rd total, which was ~63,000, these estimates point to the fact that about 3/4 of the lives that were lost have been lost unnecessarily in the US.
The Atlantic magazine reports that the CDC has mixed data from direct viral testing with blood antibody tests. This has sown confusion in the states looking to re-open. Antibody testing is not useful in making these decisions as one needs to know who is currently infectious, not who had it.
US death toll officially hits 100,000.
Dr. Fauci asks Americans to wear masks, calling them a safeguard even if not 100% effective.
Carnegie Mellon University reports that 82% of the most influential online accounts pushing to re-open the country were, in fact, bots. These bots also pushed stories that death counts have been inflated and hospital rooms were filled with actors. Russia is the primary suspected source of the bots.
Trump shares a tweet, which argues that the mandating of face masks is something that represents a “culture of silence, slavery and social death.”
Trump sets out to terminate the US’s relationship with the WHO. He claims that China “controls” it.
Late May
The Economist reports that the Trump White House's efforts to handcuff the CDC have sidelined the world’s premiere public health agency. Dr. Deborah Birx is quoted as saying, “There is nothing from the CDC I trust,” an astonishing statement from a doctor tasked with managing the pandemic.

The Washington Post reports on the manner in which the European travel ban was instituted. Allowing people to return (before the ban) through crowded airports - jamming people into tight corridors – made matters worse. It surely facilitated spread of the disease.

Dr. Rick Bright, the former top federal vaccine official, testifies to the House of Representatives that in January/February he saw a pandemic coming and pleaded with HHS superiors to ramp up production of N95 masks. Bright predicts that without a US master plan, a second viral wave will arise in the Fall.

May 2020 Summary

Throughout the month of May, the Trump administration persists in treating the COVID-19 pandemic as a public relations problem, and an economic one. There is no national mobilization of resources to fight the disease. Instead, the rapidly expanding contagion is downplayed again and again and again - with results that were entirely predictable.

Astonishingly, the ever increasing number of cases in the United States is blamed on the fact that we are now actively testing for it. The reality, of course, is that ever more people are contracting the disease in the wake of minimalist efforts to contain it. Regrettably, as Trump and allies continue to imply to the public that simply limiting COVID testing in America might solve the problem of the pandemic, it becomes clear to observers that this bizarre logic is dictating the administration's efforts to deliberately slow testing.

State and local authorities want to continue precautions in most jurisdictions. The administration and its political allies, on the other hand, are pushing hard in the opposite direction. They seek to limit what social restrictions are in place and re-open businesses across the country, regardless of the wisdom for doing so (medical authorities are urging caution in such actions).

A concerted administration effort is underway to turn the national dialogue away from COVID-19. The idea is to focus instead on how things are (allegedly) improving across the country in the wake of increasing commerce. Unfortunately, reducing the restrictions put in place, without the necessary testing and contact tracing, points the country towards the surges in coronavirus cases feared by Dr. Fauci and others.

June 2020

Britain's The Lancet publishes a study showing that masks reduce infection risks from 17% to 3%.
The New England Journal of Medicine publishes a study which indicates that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective COVID preventative. [Despite this and subsequent studies, the administration continued to advocate for this drug, for many more months.]
The US hits 2M cases - doubling over 41 days. The first 1M took ~60 days.
Trump claims in a press briefing he has "total authority" to overrule state governors and re-open the country (which was not true). He reverses himself again just 24 hours later.
Mid June
Reports surface of “long-hauler” COVID patients suffering from troubling symptoms for months.
Asked if he would attend an indoor rally, Dr. Anthony Fauci says “of course not.” Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx both counsel Trump not to hold such events.

Brazil surges towards the world’s second highest COVID totals. Like the United States under Donald Trump, Brazil under Jair Bolsonaro put no national lockdown in place, instituted no national testing campaign, and has no agreed-upon plan of action - guaranteeing similar results.
Trump tells his press secretary he will not wear a mask at the upcoming Tulsa rally.
Prior to June 20
The Trump campaign urges their supporters to bolster his audience in Tulsa. Surrogates fly out in chartered planes. Few if any wear masks. The campaign sets up testing sites, but they are available only to staffers, local leaders, and Trump's top supporters.
Venue managers in Tulsa affix “do-not-sit” stickers on alternating seats, but Trump's campaign managers insist that they be removed - and they are.

While Trump is en route to Oklahoma, news breaks that six of his staffers have tested positive for COVID. Trump is livid that this got reported in the media.

Herman Cain, a Trump ally, tweets a photo of himself sitting close to others at the rally. No one is wearing a mask in the photograph.

During his speech at the rally, Trump admits that he slowed COVID-19 testing: “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people… more cases. So, I said to my people, slow the testing down please.” This confirmation of what had been suspected ignites an angry reaction from medical authorities and scientists. [The slowing of testing and the discouragement of mask wearing represent the most glaring examples of Trump's hapless mismanagement of this public health crisis.]
Trump's trade advisor Peter Navarro tries to counter the disastrous PR of admitting that testing has been slowed by claiming Trump was just kidding, speaking “tongue in cheek.”
At an indoor rally in Phoenix, Trump torpedoes Navarro's efforts, by reiterating his Tulsa statement on slowing testing: “I don’t kid. Let me tell you. Let’s make it clear.” Trump again claims that COVID is “going away.” [It wasn't, of course.]
Herman Cain becomes ill, and tests positive for COVID-19. By July 2nd, just ten days after the Tulsa campaign rally, Cain is in the hospital.
Late June
One month into their moves to re-open, ten states spike to new records in COVID hospitalizations. Models predict Florida will be a new epicenter, and this is soon the case. Trump allies Mike Pence and the Wall Street Journal label news of this resurgence “overblown.”

June 2020 Summary

Despite attempts by the White House to downplay COVID and focus the national attention elsewhere, the pandemic continues to explode. Cases increase by roughly 50% during June, from 1.9 to 2.8 million. Deaths jump about 22% to 131,000, but deaths always lag cases by weeks.

The actual COVID death rate continues to be unclear. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was claimed that the rate might be 5-10x that of the flu (0.5 to 1%), but stats comparing deaths to resolved cases continue to run about 5%, which is 50 times worse than the flu. The actual number of infected patients also continues to be argued about. Estimates from antibody tests imply that many more people have been exposed, but such numbers remain at odds with data suggesting that ~40% of cases are asymptomatic. Thus, the idea that there are many non-sick individuals for each ill person (meaning a much lower death rate) looked unfounded at this point. Many laboratories move away from blood antibody testing over concerns about their accuracy and usefulness.

July 2020

USA Today reports PPE remains in short supply. Workers are forced to re-use masks (not advised) and use trash bags in lieu of gowns (definitely not advised). It also notes that hospitals in recent years eliminated maintaining warehouses full of supplies in favor of keeping stockpiles as low as possible. This was done as a cost-cutting measure, however ill-advised.

USA Today also notes that China, after receiving 18 tons of medical supplies from the US in February, nationalized its facilities. It redirected mask production for domestic use over export.
Trump holds a large Fourth of July rally at Mount Rushmore. Few supporters wear masks.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a staunch Trump ally, orders public schools to re-open in August.

The USA hits 3 million cases, adding its third million in 30 days by averaging >30,000 per day.
Trump announces he wants students in classes come fall. He belittles all those who disagree with him on this: “They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed.”
Trump threatens to “cut off funding" to schools that don’t open.
The Kaiser Foundation notes that, of 1.5 million American teachers, one in four has a condition putting them at increased COVID risk.
For the first time, Trump is photographed wearing a mask while visiting Walter Reed Hospital.
Florida hits 15,000 cases a day, more than New York’s worst day in April. Meanwhile, the White House releases a statement that officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong.
Trump apologist Peter Navarro writes a USA Today Op-Ed: “Dr. Fauci has been wrong on everything I have interacted with him on.” Advisor Stephen Miller tells the paper his team is preparing a memo highlighting Fauci’s wrong predictions, adding: “It’s time for him to go away.”

After swift negative responses to criticism of Fauci, Trump disavows the Op-Ed. Tossing Navarro under the bus, Trump says the trade rep was only “representing himself” and “shouldn’t be doing that.”

HHS issues new orders changing how COVID data gets forwarded by hospitals. Instead of going to the CDC, it will be routed to Teletracking, a private firm. Michael Caputo says “The CDC… will certainly participate in the streamlined all-of-government response. They will simply no longer control it.”

Gregory Koblenz, biodefense expert at George Mason U., tells AP the change appears consistent with administration moves to bypass the CDC. “We know the administration has been trying to silence the CDC. Now it looks like the administration is trying to blind [it]… as well.”
South Korea publishes a study of 5,700 cases of COVID-19, and notes that youngsters 10-19 years of age can spread the virus at least as easily as adults.
Trump tells the pundits at Fox News that Fauci is “a little bit of an alarmist.” Apparently, Trump has now resumed briefings with Fauci.
Salon reports that Fauci has been sidelined by Mike Caputo since his hiring in April to reign in Alex Azar, who was thought by some in the administration to be making himself look better than Trump. [In February, Trump was enraged that he was being called slow-to-respond to the COVID crisis while Azar was perceived as wanting to be more aggressive.]
The CDC publishes new guidelines. They repeatedly describe children as being at low risk for infection or transmission - which is contrary to the conclusions of the South Korean study above.
Fauci continues to offer opinions that are less sanguine than the White House, saying we are not winning the battle against the virus. Fauci tells the Wall Street Journal that COVID-19 is a health expert's "worst nightmare" and we are not even midway through it. [A prediction that has been borne out by subsequent events.]
The CDC website notes that of COVID patients who tested positive, but never got sick enough to be hospitalized, 35% were not yet back to their usual health 2 to 3 weeks later.
“America’s Frontline Doctors,” an oddball assembly of physicians, puts out a video advancing Trump's claims on hydroxychloroquine and other Trump-supported ideas. One doctor claims to have “cured” patients with the drug. Dr. Stella Immanuel is later shown to support the idea that some gynecologic conditions come from “evil spirits.” This doctor assemblage is affiliated with the Tea Party.
US intelligence agencies report that senior Russian GRU intelligence officers have placed disinformation related to the pandemic on websites. This was part of an effort to advance false narratives to the US public. Influencing the November election is not specifically cited by US intelligence, but the content of the website - - denigrates Joe Biden.
The European Union reaffirms its restrictions on travel. Given America's out-of-control COVID situation, the United States remains restricted.

Herman Cain dies 40 days after he contracts COVID-19 at Trump’s Tulsa rally.

Trump publicly repeats his claim that young people are “almost immune” to the virus. He had told Bob Woodward four months earlier that COVID was also a disease of the young.
Late July
Says the Washington Post: “Six months after the coronavirus appeared… the nation has failed spectacularly to contain it. Many countries have driven infection rates to nearly zero… If there was a mistake to be made in this pandemic the US has made it. The biggest single mistake was to reopen the economy while the virus was still spreading at high rates…” [It can be argued that equally large mistakes would be the slowing of testing and discouraging masks.]

July 2020 Summary

The rapid spread of COVID-19 continues to be downplayed by the administration. Doctors know there is certain to be a COVID-19 spike when cooler weather returns, but there is no call to ramp up testing or increase production of medical equipment.

Efforts to discredit Dr. Fauci are halted when Team Trump discovers that the doctor is the most widely respected expert in the US.

In the wake of “reopening of the economy,” the number of cases in the US surges from 2.8 to 4.7 million during July. This mainly red-state surge is spearheaded by Trump-allied Republican governors, who support the relaxation of social restrictions.

Total COVID deaths by the end of the month reach roughly 160,000 Americans.

August 2020

The SF Chronicle reports that contact tracing has largely failed in many US states.
On Fox News, Dr. Scott Atlas, of Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institute, ridicules the testing of people who do not have symptoms while advocating for re-opening schools.
Trump introduces Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no particular expertise in infectious diseases, as the newest member of his White House Coronavirus Task Force.
The Mayo Clinic posts results of a COVID convalescent plasma study. A slight improvement in 5% of patients was found. Given simultaneous use of other modalities, these results were unclear. Despite this uncertainty, the White House nevertheless pushes for emergency approval for its widespread use. Both NIH Director Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci argue that the data is far too weak.
In his final taped interview with Woodward, Trump addresses the criticism of his not doing enough in the pandemic. He says, in a spectacularly false claim, that: “Nothing more could have been done.”
The NY Times reports that decreased testing is hampering the fight against COVID in the US.
Asked about the FDA holding off approving convalescent plasma pending a verdict from the NIH that it was effective, Trump says: “… it could be a political decision because they want to do it after November 3rd… I’ve heard it was over 50% success.”
Trump announces FDA emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma. Citing the Mayo Clinic study, he claims incorrectly: “… it's been proven to reduce mortality 35%.” Secretary Azar repeats this incorrect claim. So does FDA head Steven Hahn. The real figure was 5%, and that was uncertain.
The CDC issues a revision of guidelines for testing. It does this without a press release or media briefing (or underlying scientific basis). Previously, it had advised getting a test if recently exposed to COVID (even if the person lacked symptoms). Now, it states that if one was less than 6 ft from an asymptomatic COVID patient for less than 15 minutes, “you do not necessarily need a test unless vulnerable or recommended by a provider or an official.”
Health officials leak that the decision to change the CDC guidelines was political and top-down. Brett Giroir, Trump's “testing czar,” alleges that it was doctors who made the decision, including Dr. Fauci. It turns out, however, that Fauci was under anesthesia during the meeting to change the advice.
Health groups across the nation erupt in criticism over the changes. The Assoc. of American Medical Colleges warns that the changes “will result in less testing at exactly the time when we need more testing...”
In response to the CDC’s changes, The American Academy of Pediatrics calls it “a dangerous step backwards.” The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America “vehemently” disagrees with the changes.

August 2020 Summary

The curve of COVID infections flattens somewhat in August as the US case numbers go from 4.7 to 6.2 million, which still represents an increase of ~50,000 COVID-19 cases a day. The concomitant death toll goes from ~157,000 to ~188,000, by virtue of adding about 1,000 deaths every day.

COVID testing remains slowed. This dovetails with Trump’s positions since the onset of the pandemic, which is that the testing of people to discover who has coronavirus is a bad thing, one which could and should be avoided. The CDC's recommending the testing of fewer people irks health organizations as it becomes apparent that this was a politically motivated move, not one justified by science.

September 2020

The Mayo Clinic finds there is insufficient data to recommend convalescent plasma therapy. The NIH still declines to back its use.
Undaunted by the NIH and Mayo Clinic, Trump tweets: “convalescent plasma has had a tremendous impact already.”

The CDC tells states to be ready to distribute a vaccine by October, despite there being zero chance of any large scale vaccine distribution by then. The director of federal COVID vaccine trials, Dr. Larry Grey, notes that seven months will be required to evaluate the “endpoints” of trials that were begun in July. While a limited number of still-experimental vaccines could be given out before the November election, something Trump keeps promoting, no mass immunizations can commence before 2021.
CNN breaks the story that Bob Woodward has Trump on tape describing what he knew about COVID-19. The public learns that Trump knew by February 7th that the virus was more deadly than he had  admitted to date.
Trump urges colleges and universities to stay open.
Politico breaks the story that HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Relations Michael Caputo, and aide Dr. Paul Alexander, have attempted to censor the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This unprecedented censorship was sought in the wake of data being published in the well-respected MMWR about America’s response to the pandemic. These political operatives felt the data made Trump look bad, so they sought to alter the data.
The death toll in the US officially reaches 200,000, though it very probably reached that milestone a month earlier. This second 100,000 deaths took place since May 25th, or 112 days. The first 100K took ~82 days. This slowing of the fatality rate is credited to the countermeasures of mask wearing and social distancing, as well as hospitals refining and improving their treatments.

Estimates are that by December the US will have suffered 300,000 deaths over eleven months. [The actual total would turn out to be over 350,000.] By comparison, combat death totals for WWII tallied 291,000 over a 3.5 year period.
HHS public relations honcho (and censor) Mike Caputo rails on Facebook about “disloyal” employees and post-election violence. As the rant is widely perceived as off-the-rails, it is announced three days later that he will take a 60 day "leave-of-absence."
Asked about the safety of supporters during a crowded indoor rally in Nevada two days previously, Trump replied that he was not worried about them. He tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “I’m on a stage, it’s very far away, so I’m not at all concerned.”
At a town hall meeting, Trump announces that “there are a lot of people who think masks are no good.”

CDC Director Redfield counters Trump's assertion, stating that masks are more important to prevent COVID-19 than a hoped-for vaccine. Masks, he notes, are available immediately, while vaccines will inevitably be delayed. He opines that vaccinations will be unavailable till the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2021. [His guess would be shown to be pessimistic, given the unprecedented, rapid production of new mRNA vaccines.]

Trump in turn belittles his Director and contradicts the doctor’s medical evaluations. Trump contends that Redfield must be “confused.” At present it is vaccines that are our most important means of dealing with the virus, he persists in claiming. Trump adds that contradicting that position is “just incorrect information.”
A staffer from Mike Pence’s Coronavirus Task Force, Olivia Troye, denounces Trump's disregard of human life. Troye says the task force knew by mid-February that COVID would cause an American epidemic. Troye points out that Trump focused instead on economic numbers, despite the obvious fact that halting the toll of the virus was critical to the health of the economy, adding that he put his personal interests ahead of those of the country.
The Washington Post reports that in April the USPS had plans to mail five masks to every household in America (a total of 650 million). Because VP Pence was concerned people would be “scared” by this action, the White House stepped in to stop the plan from proceeding. By some estimates, as many as 80% of the lives lost in the US might have been saved had masks been widely used early on.

CNN reports that a second coronavirus wave is underway in Europe as fall arrives. Cases hit new highs there as children return to school and workers return from vacation.
An official at the NIAID, Dr. Fauci's division at the NIH, is outed as the anonymous author of blog posts on the right-wing website Redstate. The posts mocked masks and disparaged Fauci. William Crews labelled Fauci a “mask Nazi,” calling masks a “political statement.”

According to NBC, reports of an “October Vaccine Surprise” - political maneuvers to advance vaccinations ahead of the time they are ready – are alarming scientists and doctors.

At a rally, Trump claims that COVID affects “virtually nobody” under 18. This is untrue, and contradicts what he told Woodward on March 19. Trump suggests that only older people with pre-existing conditions need fear the virus, and promises to end the pandemic if people will re-elect him.
The WSJ reports worries over antibody tests. Manufacturers self-certified their products and quality was inconsistent. The FDA had announced on May 4th that manufacturers had to submit validation data, yet by September 22nd only 15 tests had qualified. The CDC warns that antibody tests must not be used in decisions about letting people gather.
Ophthalmologist Senator Rand Paul challenges infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci using incorrect data on “herd immunity." Dr. Fauci in turn rebukes Paul.

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the director of the FDA, reassures the nation that all vaccines will be verified as safe before they will be given out to the public.
The US adds ~43,000 cases per day, double the rate of June when many states began opening up.

Dr. Fauci notes on Facebook that a vaccine will not replace other public health measures, and that we must continue to use masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizing.

Facing a united front insisting vaccine development must and will be guided by science (the position of Fauci, FDA's Hahn, CDC's Redfield, test czar Giroir, and NIH's Francis Collins), Trump pushes back. He says he may override the FDA if he thinks standards for authorizing a vaccine are too rigorous.

Secretary Azar had recently moved to require his signature on all Health and Human Services authorizations, taking away the normal controls of FDA scientists. This was feared to be a move to insure a top-down and political control of the vaccination process.

A University of Washington study predicts 370,000 deaths by January 1st. [This number proves to be almost dead on.] The study notes if 95% of Americans wore masks, the increase (165,000) would drop by almost 100,000, i.e., 60% of those predicted deaths might yet be avoided.

The CDC reverses its highly criticized August 24 changes. It now recommends that someone exposed for more than 15 minutes to someone with COVID-19 in fact does need a test.
Despite the governor's warning, a Trump indoor rally of 4,000 goes forward in Newport News, Virginia. Trump claims falsely that in the state of Virginia you are “not allowed to go to church, not allowed to go to a restaurant, not allowed to go to a friend’s house.”
Dr. Chris Murray, Director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), states that, per their modeling, the US death rate (currently 765 per day) could increase to 3,000 per day by the end of December. [This estimate proved accurate, as the US would reach a peak COVID death rate of 3,307 on January 15, 2021.]
NY Times reports that the White House blocked CDC orders to keep cruise ships docked until February, as this displeased Florida's tourism industry. New sailing date: October 31.

September 2020 Summary

Trump and his administration dig in to reinforce their positions that (a) COVID is not as dangerous as alleged, (b) anyway, a vaccine will be available soon (before the election in fact).

The startling revelations from Bob Woodward’s interviews prove that Trump has been aware all along that the disease is far worse than he will admit. His denials have been aimed at maintaining stock prices at a high level, which he links to his reelection chances.

News that the White House halted the sending of masks to all Americans in April is as shocking as the Woodward revelations. This shows again that mitigation of a negative public reaction (and a downward effect on the stock market) were placed ahead of the public’s welfare.

Trump continues to hold his political rallies, which puts the health of his followers in jeopardy.

The reddest states - which followed his directives on the virus most closely - suffer most from both the increase in cases and the inevitable increase in fatalities that soon follows.

October 2020

Cornell University conducts a comprehensive survey of articles from both traditional and online media, and finds that Donald Trump is the worst source of misinformation about COVID-19 in the world. Said the authors: “… Donald Trump within the context of COVID-19 misinformation made up by far the largest share of the infodemic.

The US is finally doing about 935,000 tests per day. Analysis by Axios shows new infections rose in 25 states in one week, with about 43,000 cases a day testing positive for COVID.

India, the country with the second highest number of infections, is testing ~1.2 million people per day and discovering >80,000 cases per day.
Donald Trump tweets at 1 AM that both he and the First Lady have tested positive for COVID. Few are surprised, given his flouting of mask and social restrictions, repeated rallies, and arrival of the disease in his inner circle. As an overweight 74-year-old, Trump is considered a high risk patient.
WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows informs the media that “the president’s vitals were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical.” When Trump hears about this, he gets angry at Meadows. Meadows had revealed that Trump’s oxygen levels had dropped rapidly the prior morning.

It becomes clear that the WH Rose Garden event of Sept 26, with minimal social distancing and rare masks - the gathering to honor Judge Amy Barrett - was a “super-spreader” event, as numerous attendees soon test positive for COVID. The CDC, the agency best suited to perform contact tracing related to the event, is sidelined in favor of the White House Medical Unit, and proper tracing – looking backward to identify the source of the cluster and coming forward to those who attended – is never done.
Trump receives dexamethasone, a steroid shown to help critically ill patients by tamping down a harmful immune response. Also, polyclonal antibodies designed to specifically attack COVID-19. Trump became one of fewer than ten people to ever receive this, since it is reserved under a “compassionate use" provision (the treatment was still undergoing clinical trials). Trump also got famotidine, an investigational COVID treatment.

By evening, a combination of feeling better, boredom, and a yearning for adulation motivates Trump to drive around waving at supporters accompanied by secret service agents.
Trump posts on Twitter: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” Of course, virtually no Americans have access to the VIP treatments he received. It must be noted that hydroxychloroquine is NOT used at therapy, despite Trump’s persistent advocacy for it. Neither does he receive convalescent plasma, a still investigational treatment, which he had advocated for despite the limited evidence for its effectiveness.

Trump now elects to take personal credit for the medical treatments received at Walter Reed and tweets: “We have developed, under the Trump administration, some really great drugs and knowledge." That evening, he returns to the White House and, upon stepping onto its balcony, removes his face mask, postures defiantly for the cameras, and declares he has “recovered.”
For the third time in a month, the CDC changes its position on the spread of COVID. It now says that more distant airborne transmission is possible, though it more commonly moves person to person. This same position had been published in September, but was retracted three days later.
Trump remains keen to roll out some sort of vaccine before the election, though it is universally agreed that mass vaccinations cannot and will not take place until 2021. Meanwhile, the FDA states that it remains committed to assuring the public that decisions on vaccines will not be rushed, will be based on science, and will not be rooted in politics.

The New England Journal of Medicine publishes an editorial condemning the Trump administration for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented piece calls for the current leadership in the United States to be voted out of office, on account of its inappropriate behavior. [A position consistent with the information presented on this website.]

At the VP debate, Mike Pence tries to put the blame for America’s lack of equipment on the Obama administration, now four years out of office. Pence, the author of a June WSJ op-ed predicting no COVID wave in the fall [a prediction proven stunningly wrong], has the chutzpah to accuse Senator Harris of “playing politics with people’s lives.” Pence also claims (falsely) that the super-spreader event at the White House was conducted as advised by “all of our scientists.” The reality, of course, was that masks were rare, social distancing was not observed, and part of the ceremony was indoors - contrary to the advice of health authorities,

All but two US states report increases in the number of COVID cases vs the previous week. The CDC’s website reports its models predict 233,000 deaths by the end of October. [During this month, 31 states will set new records for COVID cases and the death toll will indeed reach over 230,000.]
Trump makes a hallucinatory claim on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, that “we have a cure” for COVID-19. Whether he was referring to one of the still-under-investigation treatments he received at Walter Reed (e.g., either the high-tech antibody treatment or the antiviral infusions) seems unclear. In reality, neither modality is a "cure" and no public health authorities back this ludicrous claim. Many openly and properly dispute it.

FEMA reports that a White House COVID cluster has expanded to 34 staffers, housekeepers, and “other contacts.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admits he has not been to the WH for two months because of its lax coronavirus prevention measures.
Trump addresses a crowd of about 1,000 on the WH lawn with some masks evident, but no social distancing. Trump falsely states yet again - and just ten days after he himself catches the disease - that the virus is “disappearing.” Actually, the USA records its third consecutive day with 50,000 new cases. An increase of 57,000 over 24 hours is the highest spike since August.

‍The world records its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. This is fueled by a second wave in Europe. Meanwhile, India joins the US as the two nations with over 7M cases. Brazil has gone over the 5M mark and is in third place. The University of Washington’s model predicts a peak of 2,300 deaths per day in January and a total death count of ~400,000 by February 2021. [Both of these totals were exceeded. The death toll hit 470k by Feb 10, and as mentioned earlier the deaths per day went over 3,000.]

NY Times reports the CDC had drafted a sweeping order in Sept requiring passengers and employees to wear masks on public and commercial transit. This was blocked by the White House. It was drafted under the CDC’s “quarantine powers” and had the support of HHS Secretary Azar. Mike Pence's Coronavirus Task Force declined to even discuss it. [The fall surge in cases that Pence predicted would never happen is something the former VP bears some responsibility for.]
Four former CDC directors speak at a CNN Town Hall. Dr. Thomas Frieden says that the true number of dead is underestimated, as older patients may not have coronavirus listed as the cause of death. Referencing political interference at the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding says: "It is going to be very difficult to crawl back into a situation where people believe that we really do have their best interest at heart." Dr. Richard Besser says we can get the virus under control with masks, social distancing, hand washing, and by investigating cases. Dr. Jeffrey Koplan drops a bomb: “When your leadership is working against you in this virus, the virus has an ally that makes it a pretty strong contender for further destruction."
Dr. Fauci tells CNN he hopes the latest data on a rising number of COVID cases (and additional deaths) will "jolt" the public into reality. He adds that holding large political rallies is “asking for trouble.”

Nevertheless, Trump holds a campaign rally in Florida where he continues to claim (without evidence) that the US pandemic is nearly over: “Under my leadership, we're delivering a safe vaccine and a rapid recovery like no one can even believe… If you look at our upward path, no country in the world has recovered the way we have recovered."

JAMA publishes a study showing 225,530 excess US deaths from March to July 2020. Deaths linked to COVID accounted for 151.000, or 67% of the total! JAMA also noted that with 60.3 deaths per 100,000, compared to 24.6 in neighboring Canada, the US experienced 117,000 more deaths than would be expected. Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, chairman of the Dept. of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, commented: “That’s tens of thousands of Americans who have unnecessarily died.”

Campaign surrogate Rudy Giuliani tells a crowd in Philadelphia, “People don’t die of this disease any more," an amazingly disingenuous and asinine statement.

Trump ally Chris Christie urges people to wear masks. After seven days in an ICU (where he, like Trump, received antibodies and remdesivir), Christie warns the virus is "something to take very seriously," adding: "I was wrong to not wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement, and wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the President and... team."

In a televised town hall meeting, Trump inaccurately describes neuroradiologist Dr. Scott Atlas as "one of the world's great experts" on pandemics. Trump suggests that he's adopted Atlas's "herd immunity" plan, which advocates letting the virus run free in the population. Trump continues to downplay masks and cites a study which notes that "85% of people who wear masks get COVID." His novel, yet utterly incorrect, interpretation is that masks are not merely ineffective, but something of a setup to acquire the infection. He tops this off by repeating his bombastic lie that we have a "cure" for COVID-19.
The US sees 69,100 new COVID cases in one day, the highest number since July. Experts say the long-feared fall surge of coronavirus infections is well underway. Epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed states, "When we saw this kind of transmission earlier in the pandemic, in March and April, the virus hadn't seeded everywhere ... This surge has the potential to be way worse than it was, than either spring or summer." [A prediction that proves true.]

Candidate Donald Trump, in contrast, continues to minimize the threat to public health posed by the coronavirus, and at a campaign rally in Florida, he tells the audience, "The light at the end of the tunnel is here," adding the US is "rounding the turn."

Over 1,000 current and former officers of an elite CDC disease-fighting program sign an open letter decrying the nation’s public-health response to coronavirus. The signatories, members of the Epidemic Intelligence Service of outbreak investigators, and frustrated by the CDC's anemic response to the worst pandemic in a century, call for the agency to play a more central role in battling COVID, writing:  “The absence of national leadership on COVID-19 is unprecedented and dangerous.”

Trump tweets: "The United States shows more CASES than other countries, which the Lamestream Fake News Media pounces on daily, because it TESTS at such a high (and costly) level." In case this failed to hit home with his supporters, he further embellishes: "The more you TEST, the more CASES you will be reporting. Very simple!" [Nations which perform fewer tests on their citizens obtain lower numbers of cases, true, but hardly causes a reduction in the pandemic. It is simply not true that the increase in cases is only because of doing the testing.]
Despite requests from the governor to not do so, Trump holds a rally in Wisconsin while it experiences a COVID surge. Masks were required upon entry, but usually removed post check-in. Wisconsin physicians had warned before the event that such rallies "endanger pubic health." A report from the WH's task force had explicitly recommended against such events in Wisconsin amid a surge.

At a Michigan rally, Trump berates Governor Whitman's efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 by restricting economic activity. "You've got to get your governor to open up your state." When the crowd chants "lock her up," Trump adds "Lock em all up!" Whitman was threatened by a kidnapping plot after Trump tweeted "LIBERATE MICHIGAN." She now tweeted, “This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans. It needs to stop.

At a rally, Trump mocks Biden for wanting to heed the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Trump says, "he’ll listen to the scientists. If I listened totally to the scientists we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression.” [Again clarifying the fact that Trump's decisions are based on his own economic calculations, not scientific recommendations.]
Twitter removes a tweet from Dr. Scott Atlas claiming that masks don't work to halt the spread of COVID-19. It is replaced with "This Tweet is no longer available," plus a link to Twitter policies explaining why certain posts are removed or limited. Twitter is reported to be taking a more aggressive approach to limit or remove misinformation (which this Tweet certainly was) as the election nears.

Despite Trump's hospitalization for COVID-19 earlier this month, he and his aides do not wear masks while at a church service in Nevada held indoors with over 200 in attendance.

In a 60 Minutes interview, Dr. Fauci says that “the president’s conduct made it unsurprising that he caught the coronavirus." He admits that the administration has tried to muzzle him.
In a phone call to aides, Trump says, "People are tired of COVID... They're tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots." Later he adds, "Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we'd have 500,000 deaths." Perhaps feeling that he had failed to bloviate sufficiently, he soon pumps the number up to "700,000 or 800,000" and makes it clear that he does not care if the press quotes him (which they do). [Within 6 weeks of Trump's leaving office, America's COVID death toll indeed stood at 500,000. No evidence has ever been presented that links this total to Donald Trump taking - or as he put it, NOT taking - advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci.]
Scientific American publishes an analysis of claims that the coronavirus death toll has been inflated. The magazine states: "These numbers are supported by three lines of evidence, including death certificates. The inaccurate idea that only 6 percent of the deaths were really caused by the coronavirus is 'a gross misinterpretation' of how death certificates work."
British journal The Lancet counters a "declaration" released the previous week by a Libertarian think tank advocating "herd immunity". In The Lancet, 80 international researchers note that the approach championed in the so-called declaration would be disastrous for society. The researcher-authors represent many specialties (public health, epidemiology, virology, and infectious disease) and call the management of COVID by allowing immunity to develop in "low-risk populations" “a dangerous fallacy.”
In the presidential debate, Trump unsurprisingly repeats numerous lies about coronavirus. Among them: (a) his leadership "prevented" two million deaths, (b) a vaccine is "ready," and (c) the nation is “rounding the turn" on infections. He also tries to pin his COVID missteps on Dr. Anthony Fauci, accusing our nation's top infectious disease expert of flip-flopping on advice. In typical Trump style, this is done via the use of misleading quotes taken out of context.
Johns Hopkins University notes that the daily US case count for COVID has hit 75,056. This is the second-highest number of cases reported in a day since the pandemic began. The old record of 77,362 cases (on July 16) was set as cases exploded across the Sun Belt and the nation entered a second surge. With 32 states reporting rising COVID cases, it is clear the nation has entered a third surge of the pandemic in fall - as has long been predicted by reputable authorities.

Dr. Fauci notes that Trump hasn’t attended a Coronavirus Task Force meeting in months. His remarks further those of Francis Collins, director of the NIH, who is also on the task force. Dr. Collins tells NPR that Trump receives information primarily from Mike Pence and Scott Atlas. Echos Fauci: “I definitely don’t have his ear as much as Scott Atlas right now."
Just ten days before the election, the US sets a new daily record with 82,900 new COVID infections. Hospitals in the West and Midwest report being overwhelmed, and COVID death counts rise as a consequence.

At a Wisconsin campaign rally, Trump suggests that doctors could be inflating the COVID-19 death count so they can make more money. In this, he expands upon his March 30 claim that the reason face masks were in short supply in American hospitals was that doctors were selling them "out the back door."
WH chief of staff Mark Meadows states that the US is "not going to control" the pandemic, and the US isn't aiming for containment. The focus is to be on treatments and vaccines. Containment involves masks, social distancing, contact tracing, and isolation as needed. In saying this, Meadows is telegraphing that no changes to administration policies can be expected, and as before, mask use shall be minimized and testing will not be accelerated. Meanwhile, promising treatments and vaccines (which are not yet a reality) will be emphasized.

Five staffers in VP Pence's orbit test positive for COVID. Despite his exposure, Pence makes no plan to quarantine. He continues campaigning.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tells Face the Nation, "We're entering what's going to be the steep slope of the... epidemic curve." As COVID cases surge, Gottlieb says things will look worse over the next three weeks given no implementation of forceful policy interventions.

60 Minutes airs a Trump interview containing numerous untrue statements and lies. Among them: (a) Democratic governors in Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania have put their states on lockdown (none did), (b) 2.2 million people were "supposed to die" until he acted (a misinterpretation of a modeling forecast), and (c) we have "rounded a corner" with COVID (all evidence points to an ongoing fall surge).
Data from Oct 23 and 24 both show over 83,000 new cases - the highest ever. Experts predict the country will increase to 100,000 new cases per day in the near future. [Ironically, this sad milestone is achieved one day before the election.]
The US tops 9M COVID cases. India goes over 8M. The US leads the world in official deaths at 231K, with Brazil second at 158K. Both Spain and France have now topped 1M cases as the fall coronavirus surge worsens in Europe.

Rural states that support Trump overtake urban Democratic-leaning states in new COVID cases. (See Dan's COVID Charts in our Graphs section for details on this trend.)

The White House Science Office issues a press release outlining the "Science and Technology Accomplishments" of Trump's first term. Even those accustomed to Trump's astounding capacity for lying while self-promoting should be blown away by the fact that his major scientific and technological feat is listed as "Ending the pandemic." A quote on this landmark achievement is included in the press release from epidemiology expert Ivanka Trump (quote not included here). According to this glowing report, Donald Trump "solidified America's standing" as the most scientifically advanced nation "the world has ever known" during his four years in office.
CNN reveals that last April, in conversation with Bob Woodward, Jared Kushner said: "We’ve now put out rules to get back to work. Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors. They’ve kind of – we have, like, a negotiated settlement." The statement reflects yet again the Trumpian political strategy for 2020: focus on shoving the economy forward vs following suggestions by health experts on fighting a pandemic.
At a campaign rally, five days before the election, Trump says: "You know the bottom line, though? You're gonna get better. You're gonna get better." He makes this statement a few days after the country hits nine million cases and sees 1,200 deaths in a 24 hour period.
At a rally, Trump again claims doctors fighting COVID lie about the number of cases for financial gain. Of the professionals fighting the pandemic, Trump says, "Our doctors get more money if someone dies from COVID. You know that, right? I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say, 'I'm sorry but everybody dies of COVID.'"

The president of the American Medical Association responds to the nation's nominal president by rebutting with, "The suggestion that doctors, in the midst of a public health crisis, are overcounting COVID-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge."

At a rally in Omaha, Trump predicts for the umpteenth time an imminent decline in COVID cases. He opened his mouth and out came: "They'll go down. They'll go down very quickly. They'll be down within two weeks." As he trots this out, the nation continues its fall spiking of cases, and a new record - ~90,000 new cases per day - is set.
In speeches, Trump continues to (a) deny the pandemic, (b) lash out at physicians, (c) cast doubt on science, and (d) attack the press for reporting rising case numbers. His rift with Dr. Fauci widens.

In a WaPost interview, Fauci is critical of Trump allowing a neuroradiologist with no special training in infectious disease to shape national policy. Fauci adds that he appreciated the honesty (at least) of Mark Meadows admitting the administration would not focus on halting the spread of COVID. As Trump continues holding large rallies with rare masks (and rarer social distancing), Fauci tells the Post that the nation is "in for a whole lot of hurt" as colder weather arrives and sends us indoors.

Dr. Scott Atlas answers Fauci's criticism of him by noting that the nation's leading epidemiologist threw the ceremonial first pitch quite badly at the Washington Nationals opening day. [Atlas appears to be right - on this topic at least; Dr. Fauci did make a lousy throw. Atlas's recommendations on COVID were less on-the-mark, however.]

November 2020

Scott Atlas apologizes for appearing on RT. He says he did not realize the television network is a registered foreign agent for the Russian government. On RT, he (a) misrepresented the effectiveness of masks, (b) suggested that lockdowns kill, and (c) discouraged the testing of asymptomatic people. This he does not apologize for.
One day before the general election in the US, a daily COVID caseload of 100,233 is reported by Reuters.

Global fatalities see their deadliest week since April. The world's death toll now surpasses 1.2 million. US deaths are officially reported to be ~240,000, but numerous estimates suggest a more accurate tally would place the total at around 300,000.

Facing Trump's refusal to change policies, Dr. Fauci says the US needs an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors. Fauci's criticism evokes a "Fire Fauci" chant at a Trump campaign rally, to which Trump quips, "Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.” Supporters cheer as Trump adds, “I appreciate the advice." [Despite Trump's hints, Dr. Fauci is not subject to dismissal by the president. Like all civil servants, who are government employees and not political appointees, cause must be shown for firing, and standard procedures followed.]
Election Day 2020. A referendum on the Trump presidency takes place. Many votes are cast via mail-in ballots given the ongoing pandemic, so it is certain that the results cannot be known on the night of the election. Polls show that Joe Biden will win the popular vote. The nature of the electoral college gives great advantage to small rural states, however. These have tended to vote Republican in recent decades. These states tended to support Donald Trump's policies throughout the pandemic, and despite the numerous insults to the public's health (and intelligence) chronicled on this website, Trump indeed did very well there. [This made the 2020 election something of a nail-biter, despite Trump losing by a 7 million vote margin.]
Despite Trump's all-too-often-repeated claims at rallies that the pandemic would vanish on November 4 (and the media would stop covering it), the fact is new case numbers of COVID, hospitalizations of the citizenry, and unfortunately deaths ALL CONTINUE. In fact, all these negative stats continue to worsen. [It is perhaps disturbing to note that despite the ridiculousness of Trump's lies on the subject, tens of millions of supporters believed him and tens of millions of them voted for him on Election Day.]
Trump demands that vote counts in the nation simply be halted, claiming he has won the election. There is, of course, no justification for halting the counting of votes excepting reasons invented between Trump's ears. Since the beginning of the American republic, the process has taken many days to complete. By this date, Trump was losing the popular vote by ~4 million and counting. Of course, in 2016, he lost by about 3 million votes and still won in the electoral college count. Legal challenges are filed by Trump in several states. [Myriad challenges would be filed in the days and weeks to come. All will be thrown out for both legal and factual deficiencies.]

Joe Biden (and a nation desperately needing a change in public health policies) remains in need of just one of the four states still undecided to become president-elect. In the week bracketing the presidential election, 23 states reach a record number of coronavirus cases.
Despite reaching the third post-election day, the pandemic continues to not miraculously disappear. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has tested positive for coronavirus, though it is unclear when he was tested. Meadows traveled with Trump November 2nd and attended the WH party on election night, where he was in close contact with the First Family. Officials are concerned that Meadows was likely around other staffers this week while contagious.

The United States crosses the threshold of 10 million COVID-19 cases. Texas becomes the first state to hit the benchmark of 1 million.

Several European nations battling the fall wave of COVID draft their militaries to aid overburdened healthcare systems. Armed forces members have been taking on roles ranging from supporting hospital staff to disinfecting testing sites to transporting patients. Such actions are not even being discussed in the USA by the soon-to-be lame duck, yet still empowered, administration.
As the votes are counted in swing states and Joe Biden's margins of victory hold up, he is FINALLY declared the victor in the US Presidential race.

Rather unsurprisingly, Donald Trump does not graciously concede his loss. In fact, as predicted by those who know him, Trump refuses to acknowledge that he could possibly have lost, and accuses his opponent of cheating. [This preposterous, unproven, unfounded, and just plain made up pile of falsehood retains a grim potential for chaos and insurrection.]

On an infinitely happier note, the Biden campaign states that dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is... yes, it's hard to believe... a top priority
. It is, in fact, cited as THE top priority of the incoming president. <sound effect of popping champagne bottle>

This breath of fresh air comes in what seems like the nick of time, as just the day before, the US again broke its own record for new COVID cases with more than 126,000.
The incoming administration announces the selection of Vivek Murthy, former surgeon general, and David Kessler, former FDA commissioner, to co-chair the new administration's task force on COVID. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Yale physician and professor, is the anticipated third chair. Murthy and Kessler have both spoken out about a need for the FDA to avoid perceptions of political interference.

Trump, doing his part as usual, refuses to allow any cooperation between his administration and Biden's incoming administration. Not on COVID. Not on anything.

In what will soon be perceived as an ominous groundswell, demonstrations by Trump supporters - fueled by misinformation spread via social media - continue. They follow the reasoning, if that is the word (and it is not), that the election has been stolen from their fearless leader. No credible evidence gets presented to support this. Then again, credible evidence is not a major requirement for the QAnon crowd. [As we will soon see, this mobilization of true believers is no joke, and manages to threaten the transference of power to the incoming administration.]
President-elect Biden officially announces a COVID-19 advisory board of science-driven clinicians, health policy experts, and scientists. Among them: Obama health advisor Zeke Emanuel; Dr. Celine Gounder, medical journalist; and immunologist Rick Bright, director of the government's agency tasked with disease countermeasures (until he blew the whistle on pushing hydroxychloroquine and got ousted). The Biden announcement signals that fighting the pandemic will indeed be the top priority of his new administration.
In a significant update to its recommendations on face coverings, the CDC notes that wearing a mask protects the wearer - not just those around the wearer. The agency also pointed out that multiple studies now confirm the benefit of “universal masking policies.”

COVID cases explode in Europe. Many countries struggle with surges in hospitalizations. Belgium leads in the rate of deaths, and blame for this centers on an incoherent COVID response from a caretaker government. The 2019 elections there produced no ruling coalition until September 2020. With no federal leadership, provinces and local communities adopted conflicting measures. This is quite like the US. Belgium's COVID advisory body removed scientists in favor of business leaders opposed to efforts to mitigate the virus. Again, much like the USA, and again, with similar results.
Coronavirus infections hit 140,000 cases over the last day. Cases have topped 100,000 cases per day, every day, for the first ten days of November, as the fall surge accelerates.

Hospitals in North Dakota, the US's worst hit state, are at 100% capacity. Staffing shortages are so severe that the Governor issued orders allowing workers with active infections to continue at their jobs in COVID units, so long as they lack symptoms and take "extra precautions"! North Dakota issues no requirement to wear a mask anywhere in the state.

One of the last remaining COVID-free countries in the world - the island nation of Vanuatu - announces its first positive test - a man returning from the United States.
Just one week after hitting 100,000 cases a day for the first time, the US hits a new record of 160,000 cases of COVID-19. California joins Texas as the second state with over 1M cases of coronavirus.

As the fall surge continues, reports emerge that despite having 9 months to prepare for the need, the United States has not produced enough personal protective equipment. Hospitals in New York are again facing the prospect of recycling masks and gowns in the wake of shortages.

Trump and his administration have responded to the above with... no response at all. Their attention is directed instead to how the election results can be overturned. That task is made much more difficult by the calling of Arizona and Georgia for Biden. With Biden's 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232, Team Trump must invalidate the results of no less than three states to get a total over 270.

Despite warnings that it was premature to do so, the administration authorized resumption of cruise ship activity at the beginning of this month. The first ship to do so is today reporting at least five cases of COVID aboard, and remained docked in Barbados.
US COVID deaths top the quarter million mark in official totals, though many experts estimate the actual number to be closer to 350,000.

Over the prior week, the United States has added another 1 million cases, to top 11M.

Dr. Fauci notes that Trump has not attended a Coronavirus Task Force meeting since June. Trump continues non-cooperation with the incoming administration on pandemic management... and everything else.

Dr. Scott Atlas tweets that citizens in Michigan should "rise up" against new restrictions being instituted in that state following a sharp increase in case numbers.
Trump's General Services Administration refuses to take the normal steps for the transition process, so Biden's team lacks a budget, and remains unable to work directly with federal agencies. The president-elect warns that such actions may hamper the incoming administration's ability to distribute coronavirus vaccines. The president-non-elect continues to pout.
A WHO panel recommends against the use of remdesivir for COVID-19. Its experts “concluded that remdesivir has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes for patients, such as the need for mechanical ventilation or time to clinical improvement.” Their report did not rule out using the drug, but said evidence was lacking to recommend it.

Promising announcements from Pfizer and Moderna raise vaccine hopes, but many state officials now say they need federal government money to ensure distribution once vaccines are released. The states say they need more funding to hire staff to administer vaccines, develop information systems to track doses, and promote the need to get vaccinated.

Despite these realities, officials at "Operation Warp Speed" insist that vaccine distributions can begin within 24 hours of an Emergency Use Authorization for them.
Lame duck Trump participates in a virtual G-20 summit with a message sent from the White House Situation Room. Just 13 minutes into the opening session, he tweets messages. Messages concerning the pandemic (the main focus of the summit)? Of course not. Trump is griping about "election fraud". Trump reportedly used his address to the summit to (a) complain about the Paris climate accord and (b) explain how he was right to withdraw from it.

As a side session on global pandemic preparedness convenes later that afternoon at the summit (including speeches by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel), Trump, figuring it to be a waste of his time, elects instead to play a round of golf.
The fall COVID surge continues to accelerate. Johns Hopkins University reports that, in just three weeks, a quarter of all cases in the United States have been recorded - 2.8M of a 12M total. Under the circumstances, health officials across the country are counseling people to consider skipping the Thanksgiving holiday.

The head of the US's COVID-19 vaccination plan, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, says that if all things go according to plan, first responders could receive vaccine injections as early as the second week of December. If everything went well, he estimates that enough of the population could be vaccinated for life to return to normal by May. [In this, he was optimistic.]
The General Services Administration finally authorizes the start of the process of presidential transition. Trump had been blocking the coalition of federal agencies overseeing vaccine distribution from communicating with the Biden-Harris team.

Three weeks after the election, the White House finally gives formal approval for the president-elect to receive the President's Daily Brief, classified information and analysis on national security matters, which naturally includes matters related to COVID. Trump, meanwhile, has still not acknowledged his electoral defeat. [Nor has he done so by mid-2021, nor, most certainly, ever.]
Health authorities across the nation urge families to limit the number of people gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday as the number of COVID-19 patients in US hospitals hits a record for the 16th straight day, at approximately 90,000. Many medical centers across the nation note that they are running out of beds.

November 2020 Summary

The case rate in the US increases from 90,000 cases a day to over 200,000. By month's end, COVID-related hospitalizations in the US exceed 98K per day.

A commencement of vaccinations in the USA gets closer to being a reality. However, lack of a unified national response, and continued resistance in some circles to employ basic health measures such as masking, social distancing, and restricted business operations, continues to cost the nation tens of thousands of lives.

Deployment of resources and the institution of comprehensive actions avowed by President-elect Biden are curtailed throughout the month, as for weeks Trump prevented the GSA from coordinating the handoff between the outgoing and incoming administrations.

Despite presenting no credible evidence in support of his claim, Trump claims he actually won the election, both in the popular vote and electoral college. His efforts are directed at lawsuits in dozens of jurisdictions claiming fraud. All are thrown out due to lack of evidence and specious legal reasoning. Joe Biden commences planning for the assumption of presidential powers January 20 with a new attitude towards fighting the pandemic.

The presidential election heads Donald J. Trump, and all that he had done, towards the exit, but in the meantime the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be dealt with in a manner that is inadequate at best, and counterproductive at worst. Trump now attempts to influence various state legislators to appoint presidential electors who will vote for him despite losing the vote in those same states. He is neither going quietly nor reforming his disastrous policies as the nation moves into the final month of a bad year.

December 2020

The COVID Tracking Project notes that, with 98,700 hospitalized cases Dec. 1st, the US has hit the highest number yet during the pandemic. This is more than double the number of hospitalizations Nov. 1st, and more than triple the number reported Oct. 1st!

The Trump administration holds to its prior policies, meaning COVID inaction. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to force the administrators of Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare to review regulations. This is expected to produce distractions for the incoming administration.
Rudolph Giuliani, Trump attorney and all-around hatchet man, is admitted to Georgetown University Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.
The United States hits 200,000 new cases per day over 5 days, pushing the total to 15.3M. California regains the top spot in the nation with 1.38M cases. Despite the nation's most populous state hitting the highest total, its per capita case rate remains well below the median for the country.

As Pearl Harbor Day is commemorated, the deaths from COVID-19 in the US soar to more than 2,200 a day, a number quite comparable to the 2,403 lives lost in the 1941 attack. Cases per day have eclipsed 200,000 on average for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Trump holds a vaccine "summit" wherein he signs an executive order to supposedly halt the shipment of Pfizer's vaccine to other countries. Pfizer had offered 100M doses to the US by spring 2021 but the WH elected to not make the purchase. Thus, the vaccination of many Americans was expected to be delayed until summer 2021. Trump's executive order was a pantomime to make up for this.

The Pfizer vaccine did not result from funding by Operation Warp Speed. This in no way curtailed Trump from attempting to take credit for its development. After saying "We’re working very closely with other nations also to get the vaccines out to other nations. And that’s very important. We work with the world,” Trump signs his executive order "prioritizing" the vaccine's distribution to the US. Presidential science advisors said they do not know what effect an executive order will have on vaccine distribution. Regardless, the stunt does not please "the rest of the world."
CDC director Robert Redfield warns the public that the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet peaked. [Indeed, for the next 60 to 90 days, it continues to kill more people each day than the attacks of September 11, 2001.] Across the nation, 107,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.
California adds 51,000 new cases and 428 deaths, but its case rate remains better than the US average. North and South Dakota have per-capita rates 3.5x worse. The Dakotas owe their high numbers to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August. Hundreds of thousands of bikers converged on the area, then ignored social distancing and mask requirements. South Korea, with a population only 25% larger than California, has 41,700 cases and 578 deaths since the start of the pandemic in January. South Korea's population - 1/6th that of the USA - sustained a loss of life 1/600th as large. Of course, the South Koreans adopted different measures than did the Trump administration.
More than 1 million people have received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. The US government says it intends to distribute 20 million first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the coming weeks. While this is slightly later than originally planned, the use of a messenger-RNA-based vaccine (a never-before-used approach) accounts for the remarkable speed of the rollout. The previous vaccine record was 4 years.

California becomes the first state to hit 2 million cases. Just six weeks earlier, the state stood at 1 million cases. The increases across the country have been attributed to people relaxing their physical distancing during the Thanksgiving holiday.
California reports a dramatic increase in COVID cases after the Thanksgiving holiday. The hardest hit states per capita remain the "red" conservative states.
Dr. Drew Pinsky gets coronavirus and recovers. The TV doc stated early in the pandemic that the virus was much less serious than the flu, calling the concerns "press induced." To his credit, by early April, he apologized for "getting it wrong," and advised his audience to follow Dr. Fauci and the CDC, and take appropriate measures including masking and social distancing.

Donald Trump issues a New Year's Eve video about his "historic victories." The video includes in his history-making successes his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In case anyone needs reminding, Trump, who contracted the coronavirus after ignoring masks and social distancing, frequently played down the severity of the pandemic while overseeing a disgraceful national response to COVID. The end of 2020 finds the United States leading the world in fatalities with more than 354,000. We did not see the video, but suspect this went unmentioned.

January 2021

Data for the last day of the year shows over 3,700 US fatalities due to COVID, a new record, and a number of deaths that exceeds the total of the entire Tet offensive during the Vietnam war.
Georgia officials release the tape of a conversation between Secretary of State Raffensperger and Donald Trump, wherein state officials are asked to come up with enough votes to switch the official total away from Joe Biden. In the conversation, Trump solicits officials to falsify returns or falsify reports of votes, a criminal offense. The tape is released by officials to counter a Trump tweet hinting that they might be guilty of wrongdoing in the election.
CDC statisticians note that COVID, which took no American lives in 2019, was the 3rd highest cause of death in the US in 2020. Using data dating to late December, the CDC concludes that there were 316K to 432K excess deaths in 2020, and (based upon death certificates) at least 301,000 of those (at minimum) came from COVID-19.
Donald Trump incites a riot in the nation's capital in an attempted coup d'etat. As the Senate is convening to certify the election of Joe Biden as the 46th US president, a "Stop the Steal" rally is held near the White House, and the crowd that has been gathered to halt the proceedings, having been organized for days, moves at Trump's urging to storm the Capitol building.

Trump has been alleging fraud for months before the actual election. His false claims fail to gain any traction with election authorities or the courts. His efforts to coax misbehavior by state officials failed, so he elects to play his last card - insurrection. After Vice President Pence informed Trump he has no authority to set aside the electoral results, Trump incited rioters to physically halt proceedings.

The pro-Trump mob marches down Pennsylvania Ave armed with bats, poles, batons, ropes, bear-strength pepper spray, ropes, and climbing equipment. It breaches barricades and breaks into our nation's Capitol building. As members of Congress flee the mob, the electoral certification process is disrupted, as demanded by Trump. Trump and his allies ensured that reinforcements would not be readily available.

After sufficient police and National Guard (authorized not by Trump, it must be noted, but by Mike Pence) arrive to force the occupiers back onto the street, the electoral process resumes and Biden is certified as the winner. Five die in the riot.
On the day the Capitol building is stormed to try and perpetuate the Trump administration past Jan 20th, the US, for the first time, hits 4,000 deaths in one day. Top COVID experts, including Anthony Fauci, explain that the outbreak is certain to get worse before it gets better.

COVID vaccinations run far behind schedule. Most states drew up plans that followed CDC guidance for the first phase of vaccinations, but the rollout was marred by lack of federal funding and unclear communication about the number of doses coming each week.

The office of the president remains focused elsewhere. Congressional Democrats vow to impeach Trump a second time in the wake of the January 6th putsch. It is clear that the House should have a Democratic majority sufficient to vote for a second Trump impeachment. It is equally clear that, despite the Senate now being in Democratic hands (thanks to their twin victories in Georgia), finding sufficient votes among GOP Senators to remove Trump from office in the 12 days he has left is unlikely.
The Washington Post and WSJ report that federal health leaders already have burned through a vaccine reserve they claimed was being kept to secure second doses. The states were counting on this reserve to continue immunizing their front-line workers and most vulnerable citizens. That process now becomes chaotic.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar announces his resignation but it is effective the day he is scheduled to leave office anyway. Political appointees customarily submit resignation letters before a new administration takes power, but Trump had not requested them to do so as he waged an effort to halt the transfer of power away from himself, and his appointees. Azar criticizes "actions and rhetoric following the election" (without referencing Trump's rhetoric on election robbery, and the mob violence this initiated). In the letter, Azar claims that "our early, aggressive, and comprehensive efforts saved hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans' lives." [This is remarkably untrue, as outlined on this website.]

The World Health Organization sends a scientific mission to Wuhan to investigate further the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak. [The Chinese government does not cooperate fully.]

While the strains of COVID around the world remain similar enough to be thought of as one, new variants emerge that appear to differ somewhat in transmissibility and response to therapy & vaccinations. Some might spread more easily. Some might have some increased vaccine resistance. There is fear that the new types may lead to new waves of infection.
The national death toll officially hits 400K - weeks earlier than the February 2021 estimate by the University of Washington’s model. The vaccine rollout continues to go chaotically. Experts note that the federal government failed to adequately interface with the states, and failed to set aside enough funding for vaccination implementation.

Topping the list of President-elect Biden's urgent tasks is cleaning up the Trump administration's deliberately anemic (and often counterproductive) responses to the worst health crisis in a century.
The WaPost reports that five prominent anti-vaccine organizations - known to spread misleading information on COVID - got $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The WHO and other public health officials have called vaccination misinformation "a major threat to global health that could reverse decades of progress made in tackling preventable diseases."

Trump remains consumed not with health issues, but with the question of whether to issue preemptive pardons to his adult children, top aides... and himself.

While acknowledging that the next few months will produce many COVID deaths, Dr. Jonathan Reiner of George Washington University notes some encouraging trends. Hospitalizations are at 124,000 per day, down from the record 132,000 a few weeks earlier, while test positivity has also dropped to 11%, from a peak of 14%.
In October, Dr. Anthony Fauci had noted that "if we don’t do what we need to in the fall and winter, we could have 300,000 to 400,000 COVID-19 deaths." The death toll increased by 100,000 over the prior five weeks to arrive at that figure. The prior jump from 200K to 300K took 12 weeks. The disease has now killed more than one American out of every thousand. [The very first confirmed case in the US was on 1/20/20 - just one year earlier.]

The evening before the inauguration, Biden and VP Harris honor America's 400,000 deaths from COVID with a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, the first-ever formal recognition of the toll of the disease.
The Trump presidency officially comes to an end. The Trump Pandemic does not, nor will this website. As time goes on, the actions outlined here could and should be the basis for prosecution. Negligent homicide is a valid charge, which could and should be pursued. This website will continue as a resource for people seeking to understand the full depth of Donald Trump's gross mismanagement of the pandemic.

As one of his last acts, Trump pardons crony Steve Bannon before his case goes to trial. On the outs from the Trump inner circle for a while, Bannon worked his way back in by defending Trump's attempt to strongarm the president of Ukraine. This, of course, resulted in Trump's first impeachment just one year prior. Bannon had distinguished himself months earlier by calling for the beheading of Dr. Fauci, in the wake of the doctor telling the truth about the seriousness of COVID-19.

President Biden states in his Inaugural Address that COVID is a primary focus of his administration. His goal is to get 100 million vaccinations administered in his first 100 days. [This goal is achieved.]
President Biden announces a new approach to dealing with COVID: experts will be heard from, not the POTUS. A new director is appointed for the CDC: Dr. Rochelle Walensky from Harvard Medical School. She replaces Dr. Robert Redfield, whose efforts were constantly stymied by political interference from the White House. Said Biden, "We're going to make sure they work free from political interference and that they make decisions strictly based on science and health care alone, science and health alone, not what the political consequences are."

Face mask use is mandated for interstate travelers via executive order of the president. This will apply to airports, planes, trains, ferries, intercity buses, and public transportation. The flight attendants union AFA had called for a mask mandate on flights back in April 2020, in letters to then Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. The Trump administration resisted such calls from industry or workers for such requirements. Chao, the wife of Senator (and now Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell, said the issue could be better handled by companies and employee unions. The airlines did establish such rules on their own.
While a small study in Argentina suggests that plasma from recently recovered COVID patients may reduce the risk of serious disease in new cases, hospitals in the US do not find this to be the case, and plasma therapy does not widely expand.

January 2021 Summary

Donald Trump does everything possible to continue his disastrous policies, not just through the end of his term but beyond January 20th, by virtue of (a) suborning officials to corrupt the vote count in Georgia, (b) launching dubious legal challenges to the outcomes in many states, and finally, (c) fomenting an actual rebellion to stop the constitutionally mandated certification of his loss.

The first attack on the nation's Capitol building since the War of 1812 only temporarily stopped the process, but left hundreds of representatives and staffers hiding and fleeing in fear. It is clear that provisions had been made by Trump and his allies to slow any reinforcements of the Capitol police force by the National Guard and DC city SWAT teams.

Despite the failed coup d'etat in America, Joseph Biden is inaugurated two weeks later, and begins implementing stronger measures to fight COVID. First and foremost, he places knowledgeable people in charge and vows to let them direct the nation's actions with minimal political interference.

February 2021

Studies on people who have had COVID suggest that one dose of vaccine produces a robust immune response superior to a two dose regimen in individuals who have never had COVID. This suggests that if you have had COVID, it is not necessary to receive both doses. People who cannot show that they have received two shots may well face future travel restrictions; however, a second shot should act like a booster, and is probably a good idea.
Reportedly, 134 million doses of vaccine have been administered to date.

The US acknowledges a death toll of 500,000, though the real number is actually higher. At this point, the nation has had 29 million cases, of which 9 million are considered "active" vs. 19 million "recovered". Per capita, the worst hit states remain North Dakota and South Dakota. Half a million deaths out of 29 million cases is a rate of 1.8%, making COVID about 18 times as deadly as seasonal flu, which has a mortality rate of around 0.1%.

In almost every state of the union, the number of daily new cases has shown a significant decline over the past two weeks. However, many hospitals remain filled to near capacity. Experts ask Americans to keep wearing masks and maintain social distancing as the vaccinations go forward.

March 2021

The FDA authorizes a third vaccine - a single-shot regimen from Johnson and Johnson. To speed its production, the White House brokered a deal with Merck to dedicate two of its facilities to manufacturing the vaccine of rival J&J.
Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that the loosening of restrictions in many states could lead to a spike in the disease. Fauci notes, during a White House briefing, that while the country had plateaued at between 60,000 and 70,000 new cases per day (the lowest averages since October), this remains comparable to the spikes seen over the summer which preceded the fall surge.
By now, 59 million Americans have received a first dose of COVID vaccine. Approximately 31 million are fully vaccinated with two doses. Anecdotal evidence is emerging that vaccines may help people with long-haul COVID symptoms, pointing out an area where more study is needed.
The Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, removes 100% of restrictions on business (and all Texas requirements on mask wearing). 15 other governors - all Republicans - denounce the advice of federal health authorities to continue such public health measures.
The US marks the one year anniversary of Donald Trump telling the nation that the coronavirus is "under control." 550,000 Americans have since died from the disease.
The European Union begins considering vaccination certificates to facilitate travel in the EU, which is now lagging behind the US in getting citizens vaccinated.

Fox News reports that Johns Hopkins University's Dr. Marty Makary predicts coronavirus will be mostly gone by April as a result of vaccinations and herd immunity. This view is not accepted as reasonable by any reputable US health authorities, but was heard (and swallowed whole) by plenty of Fox viewers.

Just 58 days into his presidency, Joe Biden announces that within 24 hours the US will reach his goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days.
Trump's coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx reveals to CNN that the number of COVID-19 deaths could have been "decreased substantially" had the country turned the lessons of the initial surge into mitigations in the spring of 2020. Said Birx, "There were about a hundred thousand deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially."

Researchers at Columbia University examine transmission rates between March 15 and May 3, 2020, and conclude that had the country shut down just two weeks earlier, it could have prevented 84% of the COVID deaths that followed. With the COVID death toll in the US at 560,000, multiplying that figure by 84% reveals 470,000 unnecessary deaths. [It should be noted that the first actions documented on this website were local and statewide. (What restrictions continue till now are also mainly local and state.) Thus, federal policies, coming late, and limited as they were, deserve a lion's share of blame for the death toll.]
In a followup to Dr. Deborah Birx's revelations on CNN, it was noted that after telling the public the US was in a "new phase" of the pandemic last August, Birx got berated by Donald Trump. Trump, contradicting his own experts, continued dismissing the seriousness of the pandemic. He also continued to eschew the social distancing and mask wearing advocated by federal public health authorities. Trump was determined to disseminate more optimistic views, but while the nation stood at 173,000 deaths at that time, the number would double by year's end.

April 2021

India reports a 7th consecutive day of 200,000 new COVID-19 cases, and hits a new high of 295,000. In the prior week, India reported 1.5 million new cases.

A Rockefeller University study of "breakthrough" COVID infections, among 417 people fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, found only two cases, a rate of just 0.5%.
The CDC now estimates that about 35% of the US population has been infected with COVID. Estimates are that, out of 114.6 million infections, 97.1 million were symptomatic illnesses. There were 5.6 million COVID-related hospitalizations from February 2020 to March 2021. It has long been known that a great many cases were being missed. Determining just how many remains a work in progress.

May 2021

The COVID death toll in the US tops 600,000. The number of confirmed cases approaches 34 million, meaning that 10% of the US population contracted the virus. At this point, 37% of the US population, 122 million people, have been fully vaccinated.

India continues its explosion of COVID, now with 400K new cases a day and 4,000 daily deaths. With 25M cases confirmed, India is now in second place after the US. It is believed, however, that the actual numbers of cases and deaths are a multiple of official figures. India seems destined to become the nation with the largest number of COVID cases. Their vaccine rollout has only fully vaccinated about 2% of the population. Officially, India has suffered 280,000 deaths as its second wave turns into the worst pandemic outbreak yet seen. The Modi government's policies, which allowed vast congregations to gather for Hindu religious festivals, made major contributions to India's current woes.

Brazil, a third large nation whose disastrous political actions worsened the COVID crisis, now stands at 15.6 million cases and 437,000 deaths. This is a death rate 10% worse than the US.

Four other nations report official death tolls over 100,000: France (108K), Russia (116K), the UK (128K), and Italy (124K). It is certain that many populous nations in Asia, Africa, and South America are reporting low totals due to a lack of testing. Their Trump-like status is (a) probably the result of too-few tests rather than deliberate non-testing, and (b) NOT a way for the countries to benefit.

South Korea, still a model nation for its rapid and aggressive response to the pandemic, has at this point just 132,000 COVID cases and fewer than 2,000 fatalities.
The White House announces that 50% of US adults have been vaccinated for Covid, with more than 130 million Americans receiving at least one shot. Fully vaccinated individuals aged 12 and above account for 39.3% of the US population.

Upon further investigations, the theory that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the true source of the pandemic is gaining steam. The evaluation of the Institute and its researchers has been hampered by the Chinese government. The allegation that Covid was developed as a weapon does not appear justified, but there is the possibility that there was an accidental release of a coronavirus that had been taken from the wild and manipulated at the WIV. If researchers remain unable to find a wild source for the agent, this possibility will only be strengthened. In 2018, State Department officials visited the WIV and sent two official warnings back to Washington that there was inadequate safety at the lab, which was conducting risky studies on bat coronaviruses.

June 2021

Facebook's new Oversight Board reviews Donald Trump's comments to incite violence in the Capitol insurrection of Jan. 6, and announces that the company will suspend him for two years.  The social media giant noted in a blog posting that it will reinstate him only “if the risk to public safety has receded.” The ruling reflects a reversal of policies that had produced years of criticism that it had been too deferential to Trump during his presidency, and allowed his lies to go unchallenged.
India reports more than 6,000 COVID-19 deaths per day, the highest ever reported in the pandemic. India has been devastated by a second wave of infection that started in February, with hospitals overwhelmed and shortages of oxygen. Less than 5% of the Indian population has received two doses of vaccine and experts fear a third wave later this year.

The Washington Post reports that the lab-leak hypothesis on the origins of COVID is being more fully investigated by journalists who shied away from the issue in the wake of outrageous statements from Donald Trump and his allies. Reporters turned away from the disinformation campaign being promoted by the administration to divert attention away from its failings. They are now taking another look at Chinese actions and censorship in the wake of more reasoned evidence. While the notion that COVID was a bio-weapon lacks credibility, the possibility of a modified virus accidentally escaping the WIV does not, though it remains only a possibility, and not a certainty by any stretch.
Deaths from COVID in the United States have fallen to their lowest levels since March 2020, as 53.4% of American adults are now fully vaccinated.
A Decatur, Georgia supermarket clerk is fatally shot by a customer after she asked the man to adjust his face mask. After being asked to pull up his mask, the man left without making a purchase, but returned with a handgun. The assailant Victor Tucker also shot the security guard who tried to intervene. After receiving two shots into his bulletproof vest, the guard returned fire and wounded Tucker, who was arrested trying to crawl out of the store.
The worldwide Covid death toll for 2021 exceeds that of 2020 as the disease spreads to parts of Asia and Latin America with low vaccination rates. At this point in the year, 1.9 million people have died from Covid.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky says that "nearly every death, especially among adults, due to Covid-19 is at this point entirely preventable" in the wake of the fact that, during the month, more than 99 percent of both new hospitalizations and deaths in the United States came in unvaccinated people. Only a tiny number of infections causing serious illness arose in those fully vaccinated.
The WSJ reports that as China continues to allege that Covid was brought to the country in October 2019 from the Military World Games, it hinders outside investigators from gaining access to scientists at the Wuhan Virology Lab and workers at the city's wet market. The possibility of a lab accident will thus remain difficult to assess.
In the wake of the Delta variant of Covid-19 from neighboring India, Bangladesh goes into severe lockdown. The country, which saw a quintupling of cases over the past month, is experiencing its fourth wave of infection, in no small part due to the fact that only 3% of Bangladeshis are vaccinated. The nation has 163 million people living in an area the size of Montana, and illustrates how the virus will ravage poor countries for a good deal longer, despite Western nations opening up.

July 2021

Less than half the staffers at nursing homes in 15 states have been fully vaccinated. These same states - among them Wyoming, Mississippi, and Alabama - also have lower overall vaccination rates.
The world's Covid-19 death total since the pandemic began is officially listed as over 4 million people. It is surely a large underestimation of the real number. US deaths have flattened out at 620,000, though over 4.8 million cases remain listed as "active", vs over 29.2 million US cases described as "recovered". This means that 10.6% of the US population has now contracted the disease, though numerous cases did not get very ill.
This is a living document, check back regularly for more updates