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A timeline of COVID events in Michigan since the first confirmed U.S. case 2 years ago

Less than two months after the first COVID case was confirmed in the U.S., Michigan announced its first case of the new novel coronavirus.
Credit: WZZM/CDC

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's hard to believe that it has been two years since the coronavirus pandemic reached the shores of the United States.

To some, it feels like the pandemic has dragged on for decades, and to others it might feel like the pandemic has only been a blip on the radar.

Thursday, Jan. 20 marks two years since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the United States. In December 2019, a pneumonia outbreak of unknown causes was announced in Wuhan, China, which epidemiologists would later realize is a new highly contagious novel coronavirus.

In January 2020, the World Health Organization and Chinese authorities scrambled to understand the cause of the pneumonia outbreak. And by the end of the month the virus had already began traversing the globe and showing up in dozens of countries.

The new novel coronavirus first reached the United States on Jan. 17 when a Washington state resident was reported to have contracted the virus. On Jan. 20, the case was confirmed to be the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or COVID-19.

It would be almost two months before the first reported case COVID-19 was reported in Michigan on March 10, 2020. Over the next 22 months, Michigan would report over 1.8 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 29,000 deaths related to the virus.

The virus has come in waves throughout the pandemic and various mutations like delta and omicron have caused these waves to be much larger than at the beginning of the pandemic.

Michigan is currently experiencing some of its highest hospitalizations and rate of infection since the beginning of the pandemic.

Timeline of major coronavirus news in Michigan

January 2020

Jan. 20, 2020

  • The CDC confirms the first U.S. case of COVID-19 in the U.S. in Washington state.

Jan. 22, 2020

  • The WHO International Health Regulation Emergency Committee decides not to declare the novel coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

  • The WHO confirms human-to-human spread of the novel coronavirus.

Jan. 31, 2020

  • U.S. declares the SARS-CoV-2 virus a public health emergency and the White House announces the implementation of new travel policies.

  • The World Health Organization International Health Regulation Emergency Committee reconvenes and declares the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

February 2020

Feb. 11, 2020

  • The WHO announces the official name for the disease: COVID-19.

March 2020

March 10, 2020

  • The first confirmed cases of COVID-19 are discovered in Michigan.

  • Michigan's first two cases are confirmed in Wayne and Oakland counties.

  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declares a state of emergency.

March 11, 2020

  • The WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic.

March 13, 2020

  • President Donald J. Trump declares a nationwide emergency.

March 17, 2020

  • Moderna Therapeutics announces the first human trial in the U.S. of a COVID-19 vaccine.

March 24, 2020

  • Michigan statewide stay-at-home order begins, limiting all non-essential travel and discontinuing all non-essential business services and operations.

March 31, 2020

  • Michigan ranks third nationally for coronavirus-related deaths with a total of 259 deaths.

April 2020

April 8, 2020

  • Michigan becomes the third state to reach more than 20,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

April 9, 2020

  • Gov. Whitmer extends the stay-at-home order through April 30 and adds new social distancing restrictions.

April 24, 2020

  • Michigan’s stay-at-home order is extended to May 15, with some changes to restrictions.

May 2020

May 1, 2020

  • Gov. Whitmer extends the state of emergency until May 28.

May 7, 2020

  • Gov. Whitmer extends the stay-at-home order until May 28. It modified some of the restrictions of previous orders and allowed factories to re-open starting May 11.

May 22, 2020

  • Gov. Whitmer extends the stay-at-home order until June 12.

  • Gov. Whitmer extends the state of emergency until June 19.

May 25, 2020

  • Gov. Whitmer opens northern Michigan for Memorial Day.

June 2020

June 12, 2020

  • Michigan’s final stay-at-home order expires.

August 2020

Aug. 7, 2020

  • Gov. Whitmer extends the state of emergency until Sept. 4.

Aug. 28, 2020

  • The state surpasses 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

September 2020

Sept. 29, 2020

  • Gov. Whitmer extends the state of emergency until Oct. 27.

October 2020

Oct. 9, 2020

  • Many businesses are allowed to reopen: Movie theaters, live performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks and other businesses.

November 2020

Nov. 15, 2020

  • Gov. Whitmer announces the MDHHS orders the closure of several businesses and public services, including high schools and universities, for three weeks.

Nov. 16, 2020

  • Michigan state surpasses 8,000 deaths.

Nov. 20, 2020

  • Michigan records 9,779 new cases, a new single-day record.

Nov. 21, 2020

  • Michigan surpasses 300,000 confirmed cases and 150,000 recoveries.

Nov. 25, 2020

  • MDHHS reports six hospitals in the state are at 100% capacity and another 18 are at 90% or more. Just under 4,100 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state.

Nov. 28, 2020

  • Michigan surpasses 9,000 deaths.

December 2020

Dec. 7, 2020

  • Michigan surpasses 400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

  • Gov. Whitmer extends the statewide partial shutdown on businesses, indoor dining in restaurants and in-person instruction at high schools, colleges and universities.

Dec. 8, 2020

  • Michigan surpasses 10,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.

  • Gov. Whitmer orders flags to fly at half staff for the next 10 days, one day for each 1,000 deaths in the state.

Dec. 30, 2020

  • Michigan ends the first year of the pandemic with 488,134 confirmed cases and 12,333 confirmed deaths.

January 2021

Jan. 4, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 500,000 confirmed cases.

Jan. 7, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 13,000 deaths.

Jan. 21, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 14,000 confirmed deaths.

Jan. 22, 2021

  • Gov. Whitmer announces that restaurants can re-open, with several restrictions on starting on Feb. 1.

Jan. 31, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 1 million vaccinations.

February 2021

Feb. 11, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 15,000 confirmed deaths.

Feb. 12, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 500,000 confirmed recoveries from COVID-19.

March 2021

March 2, 2021

  • Gov. Whitmer announces loosening of restrictions on retail stores, gyms, private parties, entertainment venues, sports stadiums, restaurants and bars.

March 10, 2021

  • One-year anniversary of the first cases discovered in Michigan.

  • Michigan surpasses 600,000 confirmed cases.

April 2021

April 16, 2021

  • Gov. Whitmer extends restrictions on gatherings and dining to May 24.

  • Michigan expands mask mandate to children ages 2–4 years.

April 20, 2021

  • Michigan is the only state categorized as at a “severe” risk level for a virus outbreak, according to a report.

April 21, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 800,000 confirmed cases 

  • Michigan surpasses 17,000 confirmed deaths.

April 29, 2021

  • Michigan announces tiered re-opening plan based vaccination rates.

May 2021

May 4, 2021

  • Michigan relaxes restrictions regarding face mask requirements.

May 15, 2021

  • Michigan lifts some indoor mask mandates for people who have been fully vaccinated.

May 25, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 19,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.

June 2021

June 1, 2021

  • Restrictions on crowd sizes for outdoor events and the 11 p.m. curfew on restaurants and bars are lifted.

June 22, 2021

  • Face mask requirements and capacity restrictions on indoor events are lifted.

July 2021

July 1, 2021

  • Gov. Whitmer announces a vaccination raffle with prizes $5 million in total cash prizes.

July 29, 2021

  • Michigan's white-tailed deer population found to have the highest rate of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies across a multi-state study. 67% of Michigan deer in the study tested positive for prior exposure to COVID-19.

August 2021

Aug. 2, 2021

  • Michigan announces 33 of its 83 counties reported "substantial or high" transmission rates, due to the delta variant of COVID-19.

Aug. 13, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 20,000 deaths.

September 2021

Sept. 22, 2021

  • Michigan surpasses 1 million confirmed cases.

November 2021

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan nearly doubled throughout the month.

December 2021

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan reach an all-time high throughout the month.

[The timeline was created with data from the CDC, MDHHS and the State of Michigan]

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