One year ago today, the first publicly confirmed COVID-19 case was found in China. One year later, the virus still rages across the globe.
On Nov. 17, 2019, the first case of the coronavirus was reported in a 55-year old man from Hubei province, according to Business Insider. However, throughout the year, allegations emerged that China was covering up the virus well before its discovery was made public, and it remains unclear whether the Nov. 17 case was truly the first reported case.
The first confirmed COVID-19 case in China can be traced back to November 17.
Today is COVID-19’s birthday.
— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) November 17, 2020
The Wuhan government initially said the first known case was found Dec. 8, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
But it wasn’t until late December that Chinese officials claimed they realized that the sickness was actually a new virus, dubbed COVID-19, and was quickly spreading. The Chinese government didn’t alert the World Health Organization (WHO) until Dec. 31, telling the WHO the virus was linked to Wuhan’s Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, per the SCMP.
To make matters more complex, one of the first doctors who raised alarms over the virus, Li Wenliang, was taken into police custody after he warned former classmates on Dec. 30 about a new virus, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Wenliang was accused by Chinese authorities of spreading rumors about the virus, forcing him to put out a statement admitting to “illegal behavior.” Wenliang later died of the virus, per the WSJ.
Wenliang’s death sparked anger across the world, with protesters gathering outside the Los Angeles Chinese Consulate with signs bearing pictures of Wenliang.
“I don’t think it’s a natural disaster,” James Zheng, one of the demonstrators said, per the report. “It’s a man-made tragedy.”
While the virus is thought to have originated from a Wuhan market, it remains unclear where it originated. There was speculation that the virus escaped a lab in Wuhan, according to early reports from Fox News.
Fox’s report corroborated theories that the virus was man-made, with molecular biologist Richard H. Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers and designated coronavirus expert by The Washington Post and MSNBC telling the Daily Caller News Foundation that there was definitely a possibility the virus entered the human population due to a lab accident.
A study from May indicated the virus most likely was “imported into” the Wuhan market.
However, the Los Angeles Times reported that the conspiracy that the virus originated in a lab doesn’t add up with scientific data, which shows that the virus has lived in bats and other animals.
Chinese Consul General Zhang Ping said the Chinese government was acting in an “open, transparent and highly responsible manner.”
It would later turn out that Ping’s statements were untrue.
While the Chinese government originally denied the virus could transfer between humans –instead blaming it on food purchased at the Wuhan market –Chinese doctors knew the virus could spread via person in December, per the WSJ. Instead, the government waited until Jan. 20 to announce the virus spread between humans.
On Jan. 23 the WHO decided not to declare a global health emergency, saying that while it was an emergency in China, it wasn’t of worldwide concern– yet.
Instead, the WHO waited until Jan. 31 to declare a global health emergency. Evidence confirms that China pressured the WHO from declaring an emergency.
In fact, the WHO repeatedly echoed false statements made by the Chinese government about how the virus spread, as well as the actions China took to prevent the spread of the disease.
Despite the WHO cozying up to China, China ended up blocking the WHO from participating in China’s investigation into the origin of the virus in April.
On Jan. 21, the U.S. confirmed its first case of the virus, found in Washington state.
The next day, President Donald Trump said the U.S. had the virus “totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine,” according to Aljazeera.
Nearly a week later the White House set up a coronavirus task force headed by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, with Dr. Anthony Fauci appointed to the task force.
And on Jan. 31, Trump issued a travel ban on China, while Azar declared the coronavirus a public health emergency.
Roughly a month later, the U.S. stock market dipped 1,000 points amid heightened fears of the virus, with Trump tweeting the virus was “under control.”
The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2020
However, less than a month later Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, freeing up $50 billion in funding for states.
While the administration was working to free up funds, Americans began stockpiling goods, such as toilet paper, paper towels, and foods.
Trump even begged Americans to “band together” and stop stockpiling “unnecessary amounts of food and essentials.”
I ask all Americans to band together and support your neighbors by not hoarding unnecessary amounts of food and essentials. TOGETHER we will stay STRONG and overcome this challenge!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2020
It was around this time that states began unprecedented lockdowns, with Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo putting the entire state on “pause,” ordering non-essential workers stay home and inside at all times except for critical travel as the states cases surged past 8,500. (RELATED: Editor Daily Rundown: Coronavirus Surges, Holidays Get Canceled)
In Northern California, nearly seven million people were ordered to shelter in place except for critical travel as well.
Eventually numerous other states like Connecticut, New Jersey, Michigan and California followed suit.
A report from the House Foreign Affairs Committee found that the coronavirus “could have been prevented” if China didn’t cover up the virus in its early stages.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 11 million Americans have caught the virus –including Trump – and nearly 250,000 Americans have died.
Worldwide, there have been more than 55 million reported cases and more than 1.3 million deaths.
And despite China’s initial outbreak, coverup and lies, the Communist state claims they’ve only had 86,361 cases of the virus and less than 5,000 deaths.