COVID-19 — What you need to know

Written by Lexi Anderson with additional reporting by Kristyn Potter

Last updated March 27, 2020

On Wednesday March 11th, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.  This means that the virus, for which people do not have immunity, has now spread around the world.

The symptoms of the coronavirus include cough, fever, shortness of breath, body aches, fatigue, and exposure to the virus. For most people, the virus only causes mild to moderate symptoms, but the virus can be more severe for the elderly and people with existing health problems. 


  • There are now more than 500,000 COVID-19 cases worldwide (source)
  • 3.3 million unemployment claims were filed in the US
  • Approximately one third of the world’s population are living under virus-related restrictions
  • The US now has more coronavirus cases than Italy, with at least 80,837 cases
  • There are over 37,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of New York and New York City has become the epicenter of the US outbreak
  • Spain now has more COVID-19 related deaths than China
  • The US Senate passed a $2 trillion economic relief package, which is going to the House for approval
  • The World Health Organization announces that there is a “significant shortage” of medical supplies
  • Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have both tested positive for COVID-19
  • President Trump wants the nation to reopen by Easter, despite health officials believing that to be impossible
  • The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed for at least a year
  • COVID-19 cases are spiking in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, and New York, as well as in Canada
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the UK to lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus
  • Germany implemented a contact ban, which bans gatherings of more than two people
  • The French Parliament has adopted a state of emergency law
  • The tax filing deadline has been moved to July 15th
  • NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all non-essential workers should stay home
  • Coronavirus cases have reached over 200,000 globally (source)
  • Over 10,000 people have died worldwide
  • There are now at least 16,300 cases of coronavirus in the United States, with cases growing more than 40 percent in 24 hours
  • China is lifting travel restrictions
  • The World Health Organization has distributed 1.5 million coronavirus lab tests around the world
  • Trump announces suspension of federally held student loan payments 
  • US, Mexico, and Canada restrict non-essential travel across borders
  • The US is preparing for the pandemic to last up to 18 months or longer
  • Italy has surpassed China for the most number of virus-related deaths
  • The US issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel Advisory
  • Healthy people are being urged by the FDA to donate blood 
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a $1 trillion emergency economic aid proposal 
  • The Trump Administration will suspend foreclosures and evictions at least until the end of next month
  • The Senate passed the House COVID-19 relief legislation that gives provisions for free testing for the virus and paid emergency leave
  • Trump will invoke Defense Production Act to increase supplies of vital equipment
  • Hospitals in America are dangerously low on ventilators
  • Due to the virus, US and allied troops have been stopped from entering and leaving Afghanistan for the next month
  • The Trump administration is requesting $500 billion for direct payments to American taxpayers as part of a $1 trillion plan
  • Over 1,560 Air and Army National Guard members have been deployed in 22 states to help virus relief efforts
  • The White House issued stricter guidelines to be implemented for the next 15 days to slow the spread of the virus 
    • Avoid gathering in groups of 10 people (in public & at home) 
    • Avoid unnecessary travel 
  • UK will close all schools starting Friday
  • First case of coronavirus in federal prison system identified
  • Trump confirms move to block asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants at Southern border
  • World Health Organization study underway to test coronavirus treatments
  • Canada will deny entry to people who are not Canadian citizens
  • San Francisco ordered residents to shelter in place to slow the spread of the virus, New York weighs that option
  • France has closed its borders to contain outbreak
  • The UK has postponed local and mayoral elections for a year
  • President Trump declared a national emergency, states the action will free up $50 billion to help fight the virus
  • President Trump said that private labs and vaccine developers will be able to provide 5 million coronavirus tests within a month
  • Late nights shows including Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Seth Meyers, etc. have suspended production 
  • 37 states in the US have closed public schools
  • Trump Administration announces steps to increase availability of coronavirus testing and would work with the private sector to set up drive-through testing
  • President Trump suspends travel from Europe for the next 30 days
  • New York, Louisiana, Virginia announce first coronavirus-related deaths (source)
  • President Trump announced National State of Emergency Friday (March 13)
  • Multiple states close all schools to prevent the spread of the virus, including Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan and West Virginia and Virginia. Major metropolitan districts in Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas have also shut down. 
  • President Trump tested for the coronavirus after meeting with infected Brazilian official — test results came back negative
  • Canadian Justin Trudeau’s wife tests positive for the coronavirus
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) states that Europe has become to epicenter of the pandemic, EU nations are closing schools, restricting travel, and taking other emergency precautions
  • The NBA has suspended its season after two Utah Jazz players tested positive for COVID-19
  • The NCAA has cancelled March Madness basketball tournaments
  • New York governor Andrew Cuomo shuts down all Broadway performances after ordering restrictions on public gatherings with 500+ people…other shutdowns include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, The New York Philharmonic, The Guggenheim, the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, and more
  • Scientists find that coronavirus can stay infectious for days on some surfaces and can linger in the body for many weeks
  • New York Stock Exchange trading floor will stay open 
  • Disney halts production of some live-action movies
  • Theme parks (Universal, Disney World, Disneyland, Seaworld) close due to coronavirus



  • DO wash your hands frequently. Wash after going to the bathroom, before and after eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water.
  • DO use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content if you are unable to wash your hands.
  • DO regularly clean hard surfaces such as sinks, counters, TV remotes, light switches, and doorknobs. 
  • DO avoid contact with those that are sick. Avoid sharing cups, plates, utensils, bedding, clothing, etc. with people in your home or elsewhere.
  • DO stock up on medical supplies and have your medical records handy. Things like cough and cold medicines, pain relievers, medicines for stomach aches, etc. are good to have in stock. If you have prescription medicines, make sure you have a regular supply. 
  • DO try to keep a two week to 30-day supply of nonperishable food at home in case you need to be quarantined.
  • DO go to the doctor (or preferably call your primary care doctor first before potentially infecting others) if you think you’re displaying symptoms. These include: Fever, cough, shortness of breath, and body aches.
  • DO donate blood (if you are healthy) and to food banks if you want to help during this time.


  • DON’T touch your face. The virus begins in the eyes, nose, and mouth. Touching your face can increase your chance of contracting the virus. 
  • DON’T buy face masks if you are not a health care worker. It is unnecessary and a mask shortage could be a potential problem for the healthcare industry. 
  • DON’T avoid going to Chinese-owned businesses. Racism and xenophobia are inexcusable. 
  • DON’T use public transportation or go out if you are exhibiting symptoms of the virus. 
  • DON’T hoard paper and hygiene products.
  • DON’T panic. The CDC still considers the general public’s risk as low. Don’t spread misinformation on social media unless it has been verified by the CDC, WHO, or other health officials. 

Helpful Links and Resources

CDC Website

World Health Organization | Coronavirus Q&A

Updates surrounding the virus are happening constantly worldwide. We will continue to update this page as news about the novel virus rolls in. Stay safe and healthy!

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