The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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Jo McCulty

When and how Ohio State responded

Though it’s been only a few months since COVID-19 became a household term and a phenomenon that would affect nearly every aspect of our lives, it’s hard to remember what happened when and in what order. This timeline is a reminder and a record of how Ohio State responded and how those actions happened in proximity and relation to events around the state, nation and world.

Dec. 31, 2019

China’s government confirms Wuhan residents are being treated for what is identified as a new type of coronavirus. One month later, the first U.S. case is reported, and the first death from the disease is confirmed by the end of February. The disease, now named COVID-19, had taken hold in the United States.​

Two researchers in white coats in medical laboratory

Anasuya Sarkar, assistant professor in the College of Medicine, right, hands a container of virus transport media to fellow researcher Amit Sharma, assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The virus transport media — the red liquid in the bottle — is one component in a coronavirus testing kit developed at Ohio State.

Logan Wallace

March 9, 2020

President Michael V. Drake announces all courses will transition to virtual instruction through March 30. This is later extended through summer semester. Ohio’s first COVID-19 cases are confirmed.

March 11

The Buckeyes’ spring football game, set for April 11 at Ohio Stadium, is canceled.

Health care workers in personal protective equipment

Two health care workers at the Wexner Medical Center demonstrate how to use an enclosure designed to protect them during intubation and other procedures.

Logan Wallace

March 12

Ohio State extends spring break one week, giving faculty and students time to prepare for virtual instruction.

March 12

The Big Ten cancels all competitions through the end of the academic year, ending the seasons of 26 Ohio State sports. The NCAA cancels the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

March 17

The university postpones spring commencement. A day later, Ohio State announces two people within the university community have tested positive for COVID-19.

Parent and college student moving luggage outside residence hall

A student moves out of university housing after Ohio State announced in-person classes would be suspended for the rest of the spring semester.

Logan Wallace

March 22

Ohio issues a stay-at-home order. Residence halls close to all but about 1,000 students without other housing options.

March 27

Student Life establishes a donor-supported fund to help students with emergency needs. More funds are later provided under the federal CARES Act.

March 30

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Battelle develop a diagnostic test for COVID-19 that can deliver results in as little as five hours.

April 3

Drake announces plans for a virtual commencement to be held May 3 and pledges that an in-person celebration of the Class of 2020 will occur when it is safe.

Health care workers in personal protective equipment speaking to patients at drive-through clinic
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Health care workers facilitate COVID-19 testing at a drive-through clinic at Wexner Medical Center.

Logan Wallace

April 13

Ohio reports COVID-19 cases in the state have hit a “flat, steady peak,” totaling 6,975 cases and 274 deaths.

Man in academic regalia leans on lectern in empty football stadium

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake pauses before the May 3 commencement ceremony.

Logan Wallace

May 3

A virtual spring commencement ceremony is livestreamed from Ohio Stadium for Ohio State’s largest-ever graduating class. In all, 12,967 degrees and certificates are awarded.

May 28

As of late May, Ohio has paid out more than $3.1 billion in unemployment compensation to more than 644,000 claimants since the crisis began.

Health care workers are applauded outside hospital

First responders applaud health care workers leaving their shifts at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Logan Wallace

May 29

At the close of May, the Ohio Department of Health reported 35,513 COVID-19 cases and 2,155 deaths in the state.

May 31

With safety as its main consideration, Ohio State continues to explore options for resuming on-campus operations using a phased approach.