In a matter of months, the coronavirus has swept the globe and left more than 250,000 dead worldwide. Now, as businesses begin to reopen, some scientists fear a second wave in the near future.
In Illinois, there have been more than 60,000 known cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,600 deaths.
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. By mid-January, cases were reported in the U.S. — including Chicago. In an effort to control the pandemic in Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order that took effect March 21. Pritzker has defended the order as a necessary action in an emergency, but the impact on restaurants, shops, factories and many other businesses has been severe. More than 830,000 Illinoisans have filed for unemployment in the last two months.
Here’s a look at the known spread of the coronavirus, from Asia to Chicago.
Dec. 31, 2019
Scientists identify a cluster of new coronavirus cases in Wuhan, China, a city of 11 million people. The disease the virus causes is known as COVID-19.
Within weeks, thousands of cases are reported in China, and the Wuhan Sports Center is converted into a temporary hospital.
Foreigners and visitors leave China, including a woman who would become the first known COVID-19 case in Chicago.
Cases are reported around the world, with Iran, Italy and Spain becoming epicenters of an outbreak that disrupts worldwide travel.
The World Health Organization officially declares the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11. Locally, travelers coming to O’Hare International Airport one weekend are stuck in packed lines for hours due to new coronavirus screenings.
Panic buying leads to shortages of staple products including toilet paper, tortillas, soap and milk across the city and suburbs.
In spite of increasing anxiety in the Chicago area, crowds still pack bars the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. The next day, Gov. JB Pritzker orders all bars and restaurants to be closed to dine-in service for two weeks.
Illinois holds primary elections as planned on March 17, in spite of more than 800 election judges quitting at the last minute and concerns about social distancing at polling places. On the same day, Illinois reports its first COVID-19 death.
On March 19, Oak Park becomes the first Chicago-area town to issue a shelter-in-place order.
Gov. JB Pritzker issues a statewide, stay-at-home order that takes effect March 21. Pritzker later calls for retired medical staff to temporarily return to work, as officials prepare for an influx of COVID-19 cases.
Within days, heavily trafficked areas of the city appear deserted.
But Chicagoans crowd the lakefront and parks on March 26, one of the first warm days of the year. The next day, Mayor Lori Lightfoot closes those outdoor spaces to force social distancing, and the U.S. surgeon general names Chicago a hot spot for coronavirus cases.
As Illinois coronavirus cases surpass 10,000, mobile testing sites begin to open. The state is still struggling to find enough personal protective equipment for medical staff.
At the Cook County Jail, an outbreak of coronavirus cases prompts nurses to protest.
Remote learning begins as Chicago Public Schools scramble to provide enough computers for needy students. All schools are closed for the year soon after, marking the second long-term shutdown for CPS students this school year, after an 11-day teachers strike in fall 2019.
New data show COVID-19 deaths are higher at nursing homes than previously reported, and Illinois’ stay-at-home order is extended. Congress signs a $500 billion coronavirus relief bill. While the bill was designed to provide small businesses with loans, over $360 million of the funds went to publicly-traded companies.
Under an updated stay-at-home order, Illinois residents are required to wear masks in public places where social distancing is not possible.
As the new stay-at-home order goes into effect through May 30, hundreds protest in downtown Chicago. On May 4, a judge upholds Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order in a lawsuit by a northwest Illinois church.