COVID-19 Timelines

Color coded timelines:


May 7, 2018: The White House sends a plan to Congress proposing budget cuts, removing $252 million for health security preparedness in funds remaining from 2014-15 Ebola epidemic

May 8, 2018: The National Security Council removes Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, the top official responsible for pandemic response, and disbands the global health security team

Ziemer’s departure, along with the breakup of his team, comes at a time when many experts say the country is already underprepared for the increasing risk of a pandemic or bioterrorism attack.

Jan. 29, 2019: The Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment warns that a major disease outbreak is one of the top global threats in the world

“We assess that the United States and the world remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase on the United States for support”

Dec. 31, 2019: First cluster of pneumonia cases reported in Wuhan to WHO

Jan. 6, 2020: The CDC issues a travel notice for Wuhan, China

Jan. 13, 2020: The first confirmed case outside of China is reported in Thailand

Jan. 15, 2020: The first U.S. case of COVID-19 is confirmed, a man who traveled from Wuhan

Jan. 22, 2020: President Trump states that the United States has the pandemic “totally under control

Jan. 24, 2020: Three confirmed cases reported in France. This is the disease’s first appearance in Europe. Australia confirms four are also infected

Jan. 30, 2020: WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declares the 2019-nCoV outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

Jan. 30, 2020: First confirmed COVID-19 case in Wisconsin

Jan. 31, 2020: The Trump Administration suspends entry into to U.S. for most foreign nationals who had traveled to China in the past 14 days

Feb. 5, 2020: Local officials confirm a Dane County resident is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, becoming the first confirmed case in Wisconsin and the 12th in the US

Feb. 11, 2020: Virus officially named COVID-19

Feb. 13-18, 2020: China hits it’s peak in COVID-19 cases after health officials begin confirming cases through laboratory test results and chest imaging, reporting over 72,000 cases

Feb. 19, 2020: Trump states: “I think it is going to work out fine, I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that type of virus”

“We have no reason to believe that this virus would behave differently in different temperatures, which is why we want aggressive action in all countries to make sure that we prevent onward transmission, and that it’s taken seriously in every country.”

WHO press conference, COVID-19 – 05 March 2020

Feb. 26, 2020: President Trump places Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the US government response to the novel coronavirus, amid growing criticism of the White House’s handling of the outbreak

March 9, 2020: The Ohio State University becomes the first Big Ten university to suspend in-person classes

March 10-12, 2020: The remainder of Big Ten universities suspend in-person classes

March 11, 2020: Trump announces new travel restrictions from 26 European countries in the Schengen Area, not including the United Kingdom, applies to foreign nationals and not American citizens and permanent residents who’d be screened before entering the country

March 11, 2020: WHO categorizes COVID-19 as a pandemic

March 11, 2020: Suspension of UW-Madison Spring 2020 Study Abroad Programming

March 11, 2020: Chancellor Blank announces that, in order to minimize risk of COVID-19, the university will be closed to students and faculty until April 10th, effective March 23

March 12, 2020: University of Wisconsin Athletics announces a plan for COVID-19 as a part of The Big Ten Conference; attendance at all Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament games will be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media and immediate family members of the participating teams

March 12, 2020: Gov. Evers declares COVID-19 a health emergency in Wisconsin

March 13, 2020: Individuals on campus at Northwestern University and at the University of Minnesota test positive for COVID-19, becoming the first such cases on a Big Ten campus

March 13, 2020: Gov. Evers orders all Wisconsin schools to close

March 14, 2020: UW Foundation establishes COVID-19 emergency student support fund, The University of Wisconsin–Madison implements a new fund to support students with financial struggles during COVID-19, such as unexpected travel costs, limited opportunities to work and funds for daily living costs, and/or decreased funding available for basic resources

March 14, 2020: Michigan State University becomes the first Big Ten university to postpone their in-person commencement ceremony

March 15, 2020: Public Health Madison & Dane County issues an emergency order, stopping any large gatherings of 50 people or more

March 16th, 2020: All Dane County schools are closed

March 16, 2020: A UW-Madison employee tests positive for COVID-19, becoming the first member of the campus community to do so

March 16, 2020: Trump advises Americans to self-isolate for 15 days – the president announces Social Distancing guidelines to be in place for two weeks that are then subsequently extended through the month of April

“We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it,” President Trump said at a White House news conference. “Therefore, my administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and public food courts.”
The New York Times

March 17, 2020: UW-Madison cancels in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, and students who traveled for spring break are advised to reconsider returning to Madison

March 17, 2020: Gatherings of ten or more people are restricted in Wisconsin

March 18, 2020: UW-Madison announces prorated housing refunds, and students are asked to not return to the residence halls following spring break. A move-out plan spanning several weeks is announced. All libraries on campus close

March 19, 2020: Wisconsin records its first two deaths caused by COVID-19

March 19, 2020: Wisconsin lawmakers in D.C. are among the few lawmakers to vote against a bill aimed at expanding sick leave and unemployment benefits. The bill passed in both houses ofCongress and enjoyed bipartisan support.

March 19, 2020: Trump signs into law an emergency coronavirus relief package for paid sick leave and free testing

March 19, 2020: University of Maryland becomes the final Big Ten university to cancel in-person classes for the remainder of semester

March 20, 2020: Rutgers University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan become the first Big Ten universities to announce alternative grading options for their students. Rutgers and the University of Minnesota announced pass/fail grading options while the University of Michigan gave students a pass/no record option

March 20, 2020: International Division, shares that IAP study abroad programs and IIP international internships planned for summer 2020 will be cancelled. This includes programs offered in collaboration with CALS, WSB, and CoE, as well as Wisconsin in Washington

March 20-27: Italy hits it’s peak in COVID-19 cases

March 23, 2020: Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway issues an emergency order in response to the pandemic

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

March 23, 2020: University of Michigan becomes the first Big Ten university to shift all summer courses online

March 23, 2020: UW-Madison postpones its in-person commencement ceremony, announcing virtual commencement plans and an intention for an alternate in-person event at a later date. Chancellor Blank releases announcement video

March 24, 2020: Gov. Evers implements Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order

March 25, 2020: A Dane County resident in her 70s becomes the county’s first death from COVID-19

March 26, 2020: UW-Madison announces a pass/fail grading option that can be requested even after final grades are posted

March 26, 2020: The U.S. has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any country in the world

New York Times headline on March 26, 2020

March 27, 2020: President Trump signs H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” (CARES) Act – the coronavirus stimulus bill – into law. This emergency legislation implements broad ranging remedial measures designed to curb the economic impact of the pandemic. It also modifies the FDA drug approval process, emergency paid sick leave programs, health insurance coverages for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, medical product supplies and Medicare and Medicaid

March 27: Temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures implemented in Wisconsin

March 29, 2020: U.S. has over 140,000 confirmed cases; South Korea has over 9,000, Japan over 1,800, Singapore 844 (exactly), France over 40,000, India over 1,000, the U.K. over 19,000, Italy over 97,000, Spain over 80,000, Belgium over 10,000, Iran over 38,000

March 29, 2020: Trump extends social distancing measures until April 30

April 2, 2020: Johns Hopkins reports more than 1,000,000 cases worldwide

April 2, 2020:  UW-Madison summer term suspends in-person summer term courses and shifts to online only; scholarship deadlines are extended. Madison expands online summer offerings to include more than 300 courses

April 6, 2020: Gov. Evers attempts to postpone the April 7th elections by executive order. His decision is overturned by Wisconsin’s state supreme court

April 7, 2020: Wisconsin holds its spring primary elections. Despite fears that COVID-19 would stop residents from voting, Dane County sees an increase in voter turnout

Duane Steinhauer waits for absentee ballot envelopes to be opened as he helps out with counting the votes at a Madison City Clerk office space in Madison, Wis., Monday, April 13, 2020

April 8, 2020: Wisconsin’s COVID-19 death toll tops 100.

April 9, 2020: SOAR is shifted online for the summer to ensure the safety of students and staff; new undergraduate students will enroll in classes, meet peers and an academic advisor and get connected to campus resources through an online experience

April 14, 2020: Trump halts financial contributions to the WHO

April 15, 2020: Income continuation remains an option for student employees, UW–Madison extends income to federal work-study students, students currently working remotely, and students who are no longer able to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced campus operations

April 15, 2020: Evers signs a COVID-19 response package into law. The bill is approved unanimously by lawmakers in the state legislature after nearly a month of partisan debate, and aims to secure increased federal funding for Medicaid and unemployment benefits.

The Wisconsin State Senate meets in a virtual session on the COVID-19 Bill

April 17, 2020: Trump tweets support for anti-quarantine protests

April 20, 2020: Gov. Evers unveils the Badger Bounce Back plan, a three-stage approach to reopening the state’s economy after a consistent drop in the number of newly announced COVID-19 cases per day is observed and testing rates for the virus increase.

April 21, 2020: Trump orders pause on issuing green cards

April 24, 2020: Thousands gather at Wisconsin’s State Capitol protesting the Stay-at-Home order

April 27, 2020: Brown County surpasses Milwaukee County for the highest COVID-19 infection rate in Wisconsin after an outbreak at a meat processing plant.

May 4, 2020: UW-Madison faculty and students launch COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect, a free desktop and mobile app that provides information, social support and resources for Wisconsinites