Timeline: Saturday is 1-year anniversary of Ohio’s first coronavirus case


In our timeline visualization, one dot equals one case

Ohio coronavirus 1-year anniversary 4

Illustration by Ben Orner/NBC4

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Saturday, Jan. 2, will mark one year of the coronavirus in Ohio.

Ohio reported its first cases of COVID-19 on March 9, but the health department’s backdating of cases to their onset date shows that seven people started feeling ill with the virus on Jan. 2:

  • An Erie County woman 80 years or older
  • A Licking County man in his 40s
  • A Lucas County woman in her 30s
  • A Mahoning County woman 80 or older
  • A Mahoning County man in his 70s
  • A Summit County woman in her 70s
  • A Warren County woman in her 40s

Since those first seven cases, more than 700,000 people in Ohio have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Dec. 31. More than 38,000 of them have been hospitalized and nearly 9,000 have died from COVID-19.

700,380 total cases in one year is difficult to visualize. The timeline below tries to put that number in perspective.

In this visual timeline, one dot equals one case:

Jan. 2: The first seven Ohioans get sick from COVID-19.

Jan. 3 Jan. 4 Jan. 5 Jan. 6 Jan. 7 Jan. 8 Jan. 10 Jan. 11 Jan. 12 Jan. 13 Jan. 14 Jan. 15 Jan. 16 Jan. 17 Jan. 18 Jan. 19 Jan. 20

Jan. 21: Ohio reaches 100 total cases.

Jan. 22 Jan. 23 Jan. 24 Jan. 25 Jan. 26 Jan. 27 Jan. 28 Jan. 29 Jan. 30 Jan. 31 Feb. 1 Feb. 2 Feb. 3 Feb. 4 Feb. 5 Feb. 6 Feb. 7 Feb. 8 Feb. 9 Feb. 10 Feb. 11

Feb. 12: Ohio surpasses 200 total cases.

Feb. 13 Feb. 14 Feb. 15 Feb. 16 Feb. 17 Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 22 Feb. 23 Feb. 24 Feb. 25

Feb. 26: Ohio surpasses 300 total cases.

Feb. 27 Feb. 28 Feb. 29

March 1: Ohio reported its first COVID-19 death on March 20, but backdated death certificates put the state’s first COVID-19 death occurring on March 1, a Summit County woman in her 50s. By March, 349 Ohioans had tested positive for the virus.

March 2 March 3 March 4 March 5
March 5: Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton discusses the decision to sharply restrict spectators at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over coronavirus fears, at a joint news conference with Gov. Mike DeWine. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

March 6: Ohio surpasses 500 cases.

March 7 March 8

March 9: Gov. Mike DeWine declares a state of emergency.

March 10 March 11 March 12
Blue Jackets fan DeWine coward coronavirus
March 12: Columbus Blue Jackets fan Darion Schaublin stands outside a closed Nationwide Arena, protesting Gov. DeWine’s decision to ban mass gatherings. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

March 13: Ohio surpasses 1,000 cases.

March 14 March 15 March 16
Ohio restaurant closed March coronavirus
March 15: A waiter cleans up a restaurant in Columbus’s Short North District after Gov. DeWine ordered all bars and restaurants closed. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)
polls closed Ohio March 2020 election coronavirus
March 16: Polling places throughout Ohio closed after Gov. DeWine called for the state’s primary election to be pushed back to June. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

March 17: Ohio surpasses 2,000 cases.

March 18 March 19 March 20 March 21 March 22

March 23: Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issues a stay-at-home order.

March 24 March 25 March 26 March 27

March 28: Ohio surpasses 5,000 cases.

March 29 March 30 March 31 April 1 April 2 April 3 April 4 April 5 April 6 April 7 April 8 April 9 April 10

April 11: Ohio surpasses 10,000 cases.

April 12 April 13 April 14 April 15

April 16: The dots will stop for now, because when this reporter tried putting in all 700,000, the webpage crashed. (They’ll return later.)

The 104 days of red dots above amount to more than 12,000 cases, a number Ohio would end up hitting daily by late November.

  • April statehouse open up Ohio protest 3
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  • April statehouse open up Ohio protest 6

April 25: Ohio surpasses 20,000 cases.

May 1: DeWine and Acton begin lifting restrictions from the stay-at-home order in May, starting the reopening process.

May 13: Shoppers wear masks inside the SouthPark Mall in Strongsville after Ohio retail businesses reopened following a nearly two-month-long shutdown. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
June 2: Ohio held its primary election on June 2 completely by mail. Voters, like this one in Cleveland in April, submitted their ballots via mail or collection box. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

June 12: DeWine makes coronavirus testing accessible to all Ohio residents, even if they are not showing symptoms.

June 20: Ohio surpasses 50,000 cases. This milestone on the first day of summer began a summer spike of COVID-19 cases, as people – especially those in their 20s and 30s – socialized in the warm weather.

Indians Francisco Lindor July 2020
July 9: Major League Baseball returned to Ohio in July. Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is seen here in a mask warming up during summer workouts. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

July 23: Face coverings are made mandatory in public spaces statewide.

July 30: Ohio surpasses 100,000 total cases.

Columbus bar mask covid July
July 31: A bargoer awaits his drink during last call at a bar in Columbus’s Short North District. Gov. DeWine issued a statewide order for restaurants and bars to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)
Trump supporters rally August coronavirus Clyde Ohio
Aug. 6: Supporters wait for President Donald Trump to speak at a Whirlpool manufacturing facility in Clyde. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Aug. 6: Gov. DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine walk into their Bexley residence after the governor tested positive for COVID-19. The result ended up being a false positive. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
OSU dorm move-in fall 2020
Aug. 13: Incoming students move into dorms at The Ohio State University in Columbus. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)
Colerain High School football fan
Aug. 28: A fan wearing a mask cheers from the stands during a football game at Colerain High School in Cincinnati. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Daily onset cases decreased as summer winded down, reaching a season-low 610 on Sept. 13. Ohio saw 105,164 cases from June 20 to Sept. 22 (the last day of summer), peaking at 1,882 in a single day.

But a month later, Ohio recorded 2,543 onset cases on Oct. 12, the first day over 2,000 since April. This ushered in an autumn spike that would bring the worst of the pandemic.

Oct. 20: Ohio surpasses 200,000 total cases.

Oct. 23: The state surpasses 3,000 cases per day, for 210,990 total.

Then it surpassed 4,000 cases per day on Oct. 28.

Then 6,000 cases per day on Nov. 2.

Then 9,000 cases per day on Nov. 9.

Then 10,000 cases per day on Nov. 16.

Nov 19: A healthcare worker administers a free COVID-19 test to a person in a car in the parking lot of the Columbus West Family Health and Wellness Center. (Photo by STEPHEN ZENNER/AFP via Getty Images)
Ohio capitol mask protest November
Nov. 19: Despite sharp daily increases in new coronavirus cases, protestors demonstrate outside the Ohio Capitol in Columbus against the DeWine administration’s restrictions. (Photo by STEPHEN ZENNER/AFP via Getty Images)

Ohio surpassed 12,000 cases per day on Nov. 23, for 416,061 total. In just one month, the state’s daily case record had quadrupled and its total case count had almost doubled.

Nov. 30: Ohio’s current record day for onset cases was set on Nov. 30, when 13,272 Ohioans started feeling symptoms. These cases – just one day’s worth – appear as purple dots below.

(Get ready to scroll.)

That was just one day.

Nov. 30’s cases account for less than 2% of Ohio’s overall total. In all, November saw 239,846 cases, the most of any month and more than 34% of the year’s total.

Dec. 1: In December, cases plateaued and have been slowly decreasing after people limited holiday gatherings and travel. The full impact of Christmas, however, will likely not be known until Jan. 9, because daily case counts are not considered final until 14 days after.

Dec. 3: Ohio surpasses 500,000 cases.

Dec. 8: Ohio surpasses 550,000 cases.

Dec. 14: Ohio surpasses 600,000 cases.

Dec. 17: Because Ohio’s backdating process makes onset day case counts preliminary and expected to rise for 14 days afterward, Dec. 17 is the last day before Dec. 31 with a case count considered complete. Thus, onset cases in the last half of December will continue to increase as we move into January.

Dec. 21: Ohio surpasses 650,000 cases.

Dec. 31: Ohio reaches 700,380 total cases… and counting.


Here we are at the end of December, about to enter the 13th month of coronavirus infections in Ohio when the clock strikes midnight on Saturday.

Between Jan. 2 and Dec. 31, about 1 in every 16 of Ohio’s 11.7 million residents tested positive. More than 5% of them were then hospitalized, and 1% died.

The state is in its first phase of vaccinations, starting with health care workers, people in congregate settings and EMS responders. As of Thursday, 119,401 people in Ohio have received a dose of the vaccine, which is 1.02% of the population.

Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts told NBC4 this week that the situation in Columbus might be “in a much better place” by summer 2021.

“Mask wearing is going to be with us for a while and we just need to embrace it and accept it,” Roberts said. “It’s going to take several months, almost probably close to a year, to get our community appropriately vaccinated.”

“As we head into the new year, we have new hope,” Franklin County Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola said in his weekly update on Wednesday. “It will take time for the pandemic to end, but at least we can now see light at the end of the tunnel.”

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