EVERETT — It has been 90 days since a Snohomish County man became the first person in the U.S. to test positive for a mysterious new virus.
Only weeks later did the World Health Organization give an official name to the disease it causes: COVID-19.
Early on, contact with a known coronavirus patient or “recent travel to China” were requirements to be tested.
By late February, public health officials realized the virus had infected many people far beyond Asia.
Undetected, it spread from person-to-person throughout the United States.
In Snohomish County, things started to change at breakneck speed.
Concerts and festivals were banned. Schools closed. The governor ordered people to stay home except for essentials.
Now, we wake up in a world dramatically different from what we knew three months ago.
“Certainly back in January we couldn’t imagine where we are today,” Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said Friday. “It makes you wonder where we’re going to be in a few months.”
As of Friday, there were 2,056 confirmed infections, including 88 fatalities, and 163 “probable” cases in Snohomish County, according to the Snohomish Health District.
December 2019: Dozens of people in Wuhan, China, are sickened with a viral illness, later identified as a new coronavirus.
Jan. 19: A Snohomish County man, in his 30s, becomes the first known U.S. case. He reportedly contracted the virus during a trip to China. He is hospitalized at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and is released two weeks later after making a full recovery. Health officials attempt to retrace his movements, hoping to quarantine anyone who came in contact with him. They say the general risk to the public is low, but they also acknowledge they expect to see more cases.
Feb. 11: The virus gets a name — severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. The World Health Organization labels the disease it causes COVID-19.
Feb. 27: Bothell High School closes for two days for disinfection as a “precaution” while a student’s family member awaits the results of testing for COVID-19 — a move that, looking back, proved to be prescient for Snohomish County.
By the time the school closes, 22 other countries already are battling the coronavirus, and 17 of them have closed schools.
Feb. 29: Gov. Jay Inslee declares a state of emergency after the first person in the U.S. dies of coronavirus at EvergreenHealth hospital in Kirkland. The man, in his 50s, had underlying health conditions. He had no history of travel or contact with a known COVID-19 case.
March 1: The Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management opens its Emergency Coordination Center, which serves as a command center for the county’s disaster response.
March 5: Snohomish Health District health officer Dr. Chris Spitters first recommends “social distancing” — avoiding unnecessary contact with others. He also says group gatherings of more than 50 people must be canceled. There are 18 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Snohomish County and 70 statewide.
March 11: Inslee bans events of 250 people or more to prevent the virus’ spread. “This is not just your ordinary flu,” he says at a news conference in Seattle.
March 12: Public schools voluntarily begin to shut down. Everett, Edmonds and most other Snohomish County districts announce plans to shutter for weeks.
March 13: Inslee closes every school in the state through April 24. President Donald Trump declares the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency to free up more money and resources. The virus takes hold across the globe as the World Health Organization announces European countries — including Italy, with 17,660 confirmed cases — are now at the epicenter for the outbreak.
March 15: There are 204 known cases and four people have died of coronavirus in Snohomish County.
March 18: The U.S. and Canada agree to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel.
March 21. Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin issues a “stay-home” directive.
“Taking a look at where the numbers were in Everett two week ago versus where they are now versus where they will be in two weeks, our systems will be overwhelmed if we don’t act now,” Franklin says in the order.
March 22: The East Coast struggles to slow the spread of the virus, and New York City now accounts for 5 percent of the world’s COVID-19 cases.
March 24: There are now 640 known cases and 22 people have died of coronavirus in Snohomish County.
March 27: President Donald Trump signs a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law. Social distancing appears to be working in Washington. Coronavirus cases peak at 137 new cases in a day in Snohomish County.
April 1: Angel of the Winds arena opens as a COVID-19 quarantine center that can house up to 150 people. Inslee extends his statewide stay-home order through May 4, saying it is proving to be an effective weapon in the war against the deadly coronavirus. “Since just over a week ago, the number of deaths and the number of cases has doubled,” Inslee says in a televised news conference. “This order is not only justified, it is morally necessary. The science is clear: More people will die if we stop now.”
April 5: The Boeing Co. announces it will extend a temporary shutdown of Puget Sound operations, as well as those in Moses Lake, until further notice. About 60 Everett employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
April 8: After an outbreak of COVID-19 behind bars, prisoners refuse to follow orders in a kind of protest in a minimum security wing of the Monroe Correctional Complex, leading a prison response team to quell the unrest with pepper spray and rubber pellets. Days later, over 1,150 non-violent offenders in state prisons are set to be released by the Department of Corrections to create more social distancing in penitentiaries and reduce the risk for medically vulnerable inmates.
April 10: Snohomish County’s drive-up testing site closes after federal aid runs out. More than 2,000 tests are administered in the three weeks it is open.
April 13: The governors of Washington, California and Oregon announce they’ll work together to re-open their economies while continuing to control the spread of COVID-19. There is no timeline.
April 16: Boeing announces plans to reopen Puget Sound plants within a week, calling tens of thousands of employees back to work.
Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.