It’s been a long time since the world heard about COVID on New Year’s Eve 2019

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The COVID-19 pandemic has not only sickened and killed people, it has closed restaurants, emptied schools and stressed many residents who have had to adapt to confinement at home. (Source: UAB and Tom Gordon)

December 31, 2019: The World Health Organization’s China office has reported cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in victims who had ties to a fish market in the city of Wuhan.

January 7, 2020: Chinese health authorities isolate and identify coronavirus as the cause of Wuhan illnesses.

January 18, 2020: The first case of the virus was found in samples from Washington state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the case two days later.

January 29, 2020: President Donald Trump creates a coronavirus task force at the White House.

January 31, 2020: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is declaring the virus a public health emergency and calling for new travel policies starting February 2. The WHO declares an international public health emergency on the same day.

February 11, 2020: The coronavirus got its name – COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019.

March 11, 2020: The WHO has officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. On the same day, an NBA player tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before a scheduled game. The game is canceled shortly before the schedule is announced and the league suspends all play indefinitely.

March 12, 2020: March Madness comes to a screeching halt, as the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s post-season basketball tournaments are suspended, then canceled. Professional sports leagues, including the NBA, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer, are beginning to plan for the end of their suspended seasons; all end up playing the remaining games in “bubbles” in a few central locations.

March 13, 2020: The Alabama Department of Public Health reports the first cases of COVID-19 in the state. Governor Kay Ivey declares a state of emergency, which is updated several times over the next 13 months to include face mask and social distancing requirements. The order also closes all schools from March 18 to April 6. President Trump is also declaring a national emergency.

March 18, 2020: All gatherings of 25 or more people are prohibited in Jefferson County; on-site consumption in restaurants, bars and brasseries is prohibited. The second round of the state primary elections is postponed. Seventeen known cases of COVID-19 are in Jefferson County.

March 19, 2020: Ivey and state Department of Public Health issue another order banning gatherings of 25 or more people; prohibits on-site consumption in restaurants, bars and brasseries; closes beaches; and banned visitors to hospitals and nursing homes.

March 24, 2020: Birmingham orders a 24-hour curfew until April 3. Three days later, Tuscaloosa institutes a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Elsewhere, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are being postponed until the following year, soon forcing organizers of the 2021 World Games in Birmingham to be postponed until 2022.

March 24, 2020: ADPH reports the first death related to COVID-19, located in Jackson County.

March 27, 2020: Governor Ivey orders the closure of all non-essential businesses.

April 3, 2020: Ivey issues a statewide stay-at-home order for the remainder of the month. Schools are resorting to teaching through Zoom and other online video services.

May 11, 2020: The total number of cases exceeds 10,000 statewide.

July 3, 2020: The 1,000th COVID death in Alabama is reported.

August 8, 2020: The total number of statewide cases exceeds 100,000. Later that month, school systems across the state begin to decide whether to resume in-person instruction or remote learning by video, with many systems offering a two-day-a-week hybrid option in schools. Football teams prepare for play, although some small schools in the Alabama High School Athletic Association choose not to field teams for the season.

December 23, 2020: The initial variant of COVID-19, now called alpha, is peaking in daily new cases with a 7-day moving average of 4,132.

January 7, 2021: Alabama records its 5,000th death from COVID.

March 8, 2021: The Alabama Department of Public Health reports that cumulative positive COVID tests have exceeded 500,000, or about 10% of the state’s total population.

April 9, 2021: Governor Ivey’s public health mandate for face masks ends, though several cities continue their own orders

July 7, 2021: The daily number of new cases falls to a 7-day average of 121, the low point between the alpha surge and the introduction of the delta variant.

August 2021: Alabama schools are opening for the new school year, with school instruction largely returning to pre-pandemic standards and sports teams returning to regular schedules.

September 1, 2021: Less than two months after the low point, a peak in the delta surge is reached with a 7-day average of 5,538 new daily cases – more than 45 times the low point.

September 23, 2021: The fast-spreading delta variant pushes deaths to a new record 7-day average of 134.57 per day.

November 30, 2021: Almost as quickly as it came, the delta’s effects diminished. The 7-day average falls to 283, marking the low point after delta and before the new omicron variant.

January 12, 2022: The cumulative number of COVID cases in Alabama exceeds one million.

January 22, 2022: The omicron variant hits its peak of new cases, with the 7-day moving average setting a new all-time high of 13,410 cases per day.

February 24, 2022: Averages of new cases are falling almost as quickly as they have risen, dropping below 1,000 cases with a 7-day average of 938.

March 11, 2022: The 7-day average of new cases drops to 865. The number of deaths, however, continues to rise slowly, with a 7-day average of 55. COVID patient hospitalizations stand at 290, less than a tenth from the omicron peak of 2,946 set on January 25 or the all-time high of 3,084 on January 11, 2021.

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