1st COVID-19 case in US reported a year ago

A half-shown graph of coronavirus cases.
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One year ago today (Jan. 20), officials identified the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. Since then, the country has tallied more than 24.2 million cases and more than 400,000 people have died of the virus.

The first known U.S. case involved a 35-year-old man who had traveled to Wuhan, China to visit family and returned to Washington State on Jan. 15, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Four days after returning, he went to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County with a cough and what felt like a fever. The  clinic and the Washington Department of Health collected samples and notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the CDC confirmed he had COVID-19 a day later, on Jan. 20.

Though that's the first known case of COVID-19 in the U.S., one study suggested that the novel coronavirus could have arrived to the country as early as December, Live Science previously reported. By the end of April, the U.S. had hit 1 million COVID-19 cases and by Nov. 9, the U.S. had logged 10 million cases.

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The first known COVID-19 related death in the U.S. was a 57-year-old woman who died at home in Santa Clara County in California on Feb. 6., 2020, Live Science previously reported

By May 27, COVID-19 had killed 100,000 people in the U.S. Four months later, on Sept. 22, the death count reached 200,000. In the middle of December, 300,000 people had died from the virus and in just over a month, 100,000 more people have died, bringing the country's total to more than 400,000 COVID-19 related deaths, according to The Johns Hopkins dashboard

One year since the first officially reported COVID-19 case, the U.S. is facing skyrocketing case counts, a relentless death count and a virus that is mutating. Scientists developed vaccines in record-time but state and local officials have struggled to get those shots into arms, with only around 15.7 million recorded doses given to people, according to the CDC.

Today (Jan. 20) is also the day that President-elect Joe Biden will take office. Many hope he will patch up the U.S.'s messy COVID-19 response. Biden has a goal of delivering 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the U.S. population in his first 100 days of being in office, which Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says is possible, according to Reuters.

"The feasibility of his goal is absolutely clear," Fauci said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Jan. 17. "There’s no doubt about that, that that can be done."

Originally published on Live Science.

Yasemin Saplakoglu
Staff Writer

Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.