timeline:

Timeline of Events Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

In December of 2019, an outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, and was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. The pandemic led to global socioeconomic disruption as drastic action was taken to suppress the outbreak. This up-to-date timeline provides details and key events in the crisis, focusing on its impact in the United States.

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  • January 4, 2020 | WHO Announces Pneumonia Cases of Unknown Cause

    The World Health Organization (WHO) announces that China has reported a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown cause (with no deaths) in Wuhan, China.

    WHO on Twitter
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  • January 8, 2020 | CDC Issues Health Advisory

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues an official Health Advisory and a level 1 travel notice ("practice usual precautions") in response to "a reported cluster of pneumonia of unknown etiology" in China.

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  • January 9, 2020 | CDC Notes Appearance of Novel Coronavirus Outbreak in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China

    The CDC notes the appearance of a novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The CDC issues an interim travel health notice to people traveling to Wuhan City.

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  • January 17, 2020, 2:00 pm EST | CDC Announces Enhanced Screenings for Those Traveling to the United States

    The CDC and the Department of Homeland Security announce enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers traveling to the United States on direct or connecting flights from Wuhan, China. Travelers from Wuhan to the United States will undergo entry screening for symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV at three U.S. airports that receive most of the travelers from Wuhan, China: San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports.

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  • January 21, 2020 | Washington State Department of Health Announces First Case of COVID-19

    The Washington State Department of Health announces the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States in Snohomish County, Washington. The patient traveled from Wuhan City, China.

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  • January 22, 2020 | CDC Adds Two Airports to Coronavirus Screening

    The CDC confirms the first travel-related case of COVID-19 (patient from Washington) and announces the addition of two more airports—Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Atlanta (ATL) to the coronavirus screening, funneling all passengers originating in Wuhan, China, through one of the five airports (SFO, JFK, LAX, ORD, and ATL).

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  • January 29, 2020 | Federal Reserve Issues FOMC Statement

    The Federal Reserve issues an FOMC statement following a regularly scheduled January meeting. Target range for federal funds rate remains at 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 percent.

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  • January 30, 2020 | WHO Declares "Public Health Emergency of International Concern"

    The WHO declares a "public health emergency of international concern" regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

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  • January 31, 2020 | Secretary Azar Declares Public Health Emergency for United States for 2019 Novel Coronavirus

    The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declares a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d), in response to COVID-19.

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  • February 2, 2020 | State Department Warns Americans Not to Travel to China

    The State Department warns Americans not to travel to China "due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China."

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  • February 11, 2020 | WHO Announces Name for New Coronavirus Disease: COVID-19

    The WHO announces a name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19, a name that does not "refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease."

    WHO on Twitter
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  • February 19, 2020 | S&P 500 Closes at Record High

    The S&P 500 closes at a record high of 3386.15.

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  • February 28, 2020 | Stock Markets Report Largest Single Week Declines Since 2008 Financial Crisis

    Stock markets worldwide report largest single-week declines since 2008 financial crisis, oil futures see largest single-week decline since 2009 and yields on 10-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury securities fall to new record lows at 1.12% and 1.30%, respectively.

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  • February 28, 2020, 2:30 pm EST | Federal Reserve Issues Statement

    Chair Powell of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors issues a statement that the Federal Reserve is closely monitoring economic developments and the evolving risks of the coronavirus to economic activity. Chair Powell notes that the Federal Reserve will use its tools as appropriate to support the economy.

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  • February 29, 2020 | Governor Inslee of Washington Declares State of Emergency, Announces First Confirmed U.S. Death from COVID-19

    Governor Jay Inslee of the state of Washington announces the first confirmed death in the United States from COVID-19. Governor Inslee declares a state of emergency for Washington.

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  • March 3, 2020 | FOMC Lowers Federal Funds Rate

    The FOMC holds an unscheduled meeting and lowers the federal funds rate target by 50 basis points, to 1 to 1-1/4 percent. In addition, the FOMC directs the Open Market Desk to continue to roll over all principal payments of Treasury securities and to reinvest all principal payments from the Federal Reserve's agency debt and mortgage-backed securities. The Board of Governors announces a decrease in the primary credit rate of ½ percentage point to 1.75 percent. Following the announcement, Chair Powell holds a press conference.

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  • March 9, 2020, 9:36 am EDT | Declines to S&P 500 Trigger a Level 1 Market-Wide Circuit Breaker

    The S&P 500 Index declines by 7%, triggering a Level 1 market-wide circuit breaker trading halt. U.S. equity markets resume after 15 minutes.

    NYSE on Twitter
    NYSE President Stacey Cunningham on Twitter
    NYSE President Stacey Cunningham on Twitter
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  • March 11, 2020 | WHO Declares Novel Coronavirus Outbreak a Pandemic

    The WHO declares the outbreak of novel coronavirus to be a pandemic, the first to be caused by a coronavirus.

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  • March 12, 2020, 9:36 am EDT | Declines to S&P 500 Trigger a Level 1 Market-Wide Circuit Breaker

    The S&P 500 Index declines by 7%, triggering a Level 1 market-wide circuit breaker trading halt. U.S. equity markets resume after 15 minutes.

    NYSE on Twitter
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  • March 13, 2020 | Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak

    President Trump declares a National Emergency, suspending U.S. entry of foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, and the Schengen Area of Europe in the past 14 days.

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  • March 15, 2020, 5:00 pm EDT | FOMC Holds Unscheduled Meeting Announcing Three Actions

    The FOMC holds an unscheduled meeting resulting in three actions:

    1. Lower the federal funds target rate 100 basis points to 0 to 1/4 percent

    2. Support the flow of credit to households and businesses by encouraging depository institutions to use the discount window, intraday credit from the Fed, and their reserves (capital and liquidity buffers) to lend to households and businesses affected by the coronavirus; reduce reserve requirements to zero percent, effective March 26th

    3. Enact coordinated central bank action for U.S. dollar liquidity; set up swap lines with Bank of Canada, Bank of England, Bank of Japan, the ECB, and the Swiss National Bank.

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  • March 16, 2020, 9:30 am (EDT) | Declines to S&P 500 Trigger a Level 1 Market-Wide Circuit Breaker

    The S&P 500 Index declines by 7%, triggering a Level 1 market-wide circuit breaker trading halt. U.S. equity markets resume after 15 minutes.

    NYSE on Twitter
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  • March 16, 2020, 4:30 on (EDT) | President Trump Issues Coronavirus Guidelines for the Public

    President Trump announces guidelines for the public, including limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people, avoiding discretionary travel, and avoiding eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and public food courts.

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  • March 16, 2020, 4:30 pm (EDT) | Federal Reserve Board Approves Actions Decreasing Discount Rate

    The Federal Reserve Board approves actions by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of Kansas City, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, and San Francisco "decreasing the discount rate (the primary credit rate) at the Banks from 1-3/4 percent to 1/4 percent, effective immediately." This intermeeting action replaced the meeting previously scheduled for March 17-18.

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  • March 17, 2020, 9:15 am EDT | Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Announce Coordinated Action

    The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announce coordinated action to encourage banks to provide additional flexibility for households and businesses. Includes a technical change to use capital buffers for lending to households and businesses.

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  • March 17, 2020, 10:45 am EDT | Federal Reserve Announces Establishment of Commercial Paper Funding Facility

    Federal Reserve Board announces establishment of a Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF) to support the flow of credit to households and businesses.

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  • March 17, 2020, 6:00 pm EDT | Federal Reserve Announces Establishment of Primary Dealer Credit Facility

    Federal Reserve Board announces establishment of a Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) to support the credit needs of households and businesses.

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  • March 17, 2020 | President Trump Signs Executive Order on Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of COVID-19

    President Trump signs an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to prioritize the production of ventilators and personal protective equipment.

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  • March 18, 2020, 11:30 am EDT | Federal Reserve Announces Establishment of Money Market Liquidity Facility

    The Federal Reserve Board announces that it will establish a Money Market Liquidity Facility (MMLF), with a structure similar to the Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (AMLF) that operated during the Financial Crisis (late 2008-early 2010). The MMLF will assist money market funds in meeting demands for redemptions, enhancing overall market functioning and credit provision to the broader economy.

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  • March 18, 2020 | Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak

    The U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announce non-corporate tax filers can defer any owed income up to $1 million until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.

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  • March 18, 2020, 12:58 pm EDT | Declines to S&P 500 Trigger a Level 1 Market-Wide Circuit Breaker

    The S&P 500 Index declines by 7%, triggering a Level 1 market-wide circuit breaker trading halt. U.S. equity markets resume after 15 minutes.

    NYSE on Twitter
    NYSE on Twitter
    NYSE on Twitter
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  • March 18, 2020, 4:42 pm EDT | NYSE Moves Temporarily to Fully Electronic Trading

    The New York Stock Exchange announces a temporary move to fully electronic trading to begin with market open on Monday, March 23.

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  • March 19, 2020, 8:30 am EDT | Federal Bank Regulatory Agencies Issue Interim Final Rule for Money Market Liquidity Facility

    The Board of Governors, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency jointly issue an interim final rule for the Money Market Liquidity Facility announced March 18, 2020.

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  • March 19, 2020, 9:00 am EDT | Federal Reserve Announces Establishment of Temporary U.S. Dollar Liquidity Arrangement with Other Central Banks

    The Federal Reserve announces the establishment of temporary U.S. dollar liquidity arrangements (swap lines) with the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Banco Central do Brasil, the Danmarks Nationalbank (Denmark), the Bank of Korea, the Banco de Mexico, the Norges Bank (Norway), the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and the Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden). These facilities, like those already established between the Federal Reserve and other central banks, are designed to help lessen strains in global U.S. dollar funding markets, thereby mitigating the effects of these strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses, both domestically and abroad.

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  • March 19, 2020, 5:00 pm EDT | Federal Reserve Board Encouraged by Increase in Discount Window Borrowing

    Federal Reserve Board announces that it is "encouraged" by the notable increase in discount window borrowing this week. The change follows the promotion of the use of the discount window by the Federal Reserve and other financial institutions.

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  • March 19, 2020 | Governor Newsom of California Announces Executive "Stay Home Except for Essential Needs" Order

    The Governor of California announces the Public Health Officer's "Stay Home Except for Essential Needs" order, requesting all individuals living in California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain the critical infrastructure sectors.

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  • March 19, 2020 | The Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Issue Joint Statement on CRA Consideration for Activities in Response to the Coronavirus

    The three bank supervisory agencies announce that they will favorably consider retail banking services and retail lending activities that are responsive to the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, small businesses, and small farms affected by the COVID-19 national emergency, potentially including services and activities outside the banks' assessment areas.

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  • March 20, 2020, 10:00 am EDT | Central Banks Take Coordinated Action to Further Enhance the Provision of U.S. Dollar Liquidity

    The central banks of the United States, Canada, England, Japan, Switzerland, and the European Central Bank announce coordinated action to enhance liquidity through standing U.S. dollar swap line arrangements. The operations for 7-day maturity will move from weekly to daily, staring Monday, March 23, 2020, and will continue through at least the end of April. The central banks will continue their weekly 84-day maturity operations.

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  • March 20, 2020, 11:00 am EDT | Federal Reserve Board Expands Program of Support for Flow of Credit to Economy

    The Federal Reserve Board expands credit through a Money Market Fund Liquidity Facility (MMLF). The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston will manage this facility and, through it, make loans to eligible financial institutions secured by high-quality assets purchased from single-state and other tax-exempt municipal money market funds.

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  • March 20, 2020 | Tax Day Moves from April 15 to July 15

    The U.S. Treasury and IRS announce that tax filings and payments for all federal income taxes due on April 15, 2020 will now be due on July 15, 2020.

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  • March 20, 2020 | Illinois and New York Announce Stay-At-Home Orders

    The governors of Illinois and New York State announce executive orders requiring their residents to stay in their homes to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Stay at home orders now apply to over 20% of the population of the United States.

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  • March 22, 2020, 6:00 pm EDT | Federal Financial Regulatory Agencies Issue Joint Statement

    The federal financial regulatory agencies (Federal Reserve System, Conference of State Bank Supervisors, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) issued a joint statement encouraging financial institutions to work with borrowers affected by COVID-19, noting that they will not criticize institutions for loan modifications and will not automatically categorize them as troubled debt restructurings. The agencies encouraged prudent loan modifications as positive and proactive actions to mitigate adverse impacts of COVID-19 on borrowers.

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  • March 23, 2020, 8:00 am EDT | Federal Reserve Announces New Measures to Support Economy

    The Federal Reserve announces new measures to support the economy, stating that it is committed to using "its full range of tools" to support households, businesses, and the U.S. economy as they struggle coping with economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The tools include expansion of lending programs established earlier to add certain types of corporate and municipal debt. The actions announced are as follows:

    • Directs the Open Market Desk to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in whatever amount is needed to support market functions. In addition to the securities listed above, the Desk will also purchase agency commercial mortgage-backed securities.

    • Support the flow of credit to employers, consumers, and businesses by establishing new programs that, taken together, will provide up to $300 billion in new financing. The Department of the Treasury, using the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF), will provide $30 billion in equity to these facilities
      • Establish two facilities to support credit to large employers: the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility (PMCCF) for new bond and loan issuance and the Secondary market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF) to provide liquidity for outstanding corporate bonds. These tools are intended to provide support to businesses in need of credit as a result of the pandemic.

      • (Re) Establish the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) to enable the issuance of assets by lending on a non-recourse basis to holders of certain AAA-rated asset-backed securities (ABS).

    • Expanding the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility to include a wider range of securities, including municipal bonds and bank certificates of deposit.

    • Expanding the Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF) to include high-quality, tax-exempt commercial paper as eligible securities.

    In addition to these actions, the Federal Reserve announces plans to establish a Main Street Business Lending Program to support lending to eligible small-and-medium-sized businesses to complement efforts by the Small Business Administration.

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  • March 24, 2020 | Increases to Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2,112.98 points to close at 20,704.91, an 11% gain, the largest one-day percentage gain since 1933. The S&P 500 Index rose 209.93 points to 2,447.33, an increase of over 9%.

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  • March 24, 2020, 5:30 pm EDT | Federal Reserve Provides Additional Information on Supervisory Approach Adjustments

    The Federal Reserve Board provides additional information to financial institutions on how its supervisory approach is adjusting in light of the coronavirus. In particular:

    • The Federal Reserve will focus on monitoring and outreach to help financial institutions of all sizes understand the challenges and risks of the current environment;

    • To minimize disruption and to focus on outreach and monitoring, the Federal Reserve will temporarily reduce its examination activities, with the greatest reduction in activities occurring at the smallest banks;

    • Large banks should still submit their capital plans that they have developed as part of the Board's Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review, or CCAR, by April 6. The plans will be used to monitor how firms are managing their capital in the current environment; and

    • To allow firms to focus on heightened risks in this current environment and assist consumers, additional time will be granted for resolving non-critical existing supervisory findings.

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  • March 26, 2020 | Historic Rise in Unemployment Insurance Claims

    For the week ending March 21, initial unemployment insurance claims rise to over 3.2 million, a tenfold increase from the week prior and the highest level of initial claims in the history of the series (since 1967). According to the press release from the Department of Labor, nearly every state providing comments cited the impact of the COVID-19 virus.

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  • March 26, 2020, 12:00 pm EDT | Federal Regulatory Agencies Encourage Small-Dollar Loans for Consumers and Small Businesses

    Five federal financial regulatory agencies (the Federal Reserve, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) issue a joint statement encouraging banks, savings associations, and credit unions to offer responsible small-dollar loans to consumers and small businesses in response to COVID-19. The agencies state that loans should be offered in a manner that provides fair treatment of consumers, complies with applicable laws and regulations, and is consistent with safe and sound practices. For borrowers who experience unexpected circumstances and cannot repay a loan as structured, banks, savings associations and credit unions are further encouraged to consider workout strategies designed to help borrowers to repay the principal of the loan while mitigating the need to re-borrow.

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Timeline of Events Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic . https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/timeline/covid-19-pandemic, accessed on March 29, 2020.


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102