What we know — and still don’t know — about the coronavirus

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (pink) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Image Provided/NIAID via CNN)

(CNN) — Dr. Megan Ranney spent last week testifying about the coronavirus before Congress.

After Ranney took to Twitter on Sunday with a series of posts on the topic that many found extremely helpful and informative, CNN interviewed the emergency physician and Brown University associate professor of emergency medicine.

Here’s what she says we know, and what we still don’t know, about COVID-19. The following interview, conducted via Twitter, had been lightly edited.

What we don’t yet know about COVID-19

So we don’t know how “exactly” how it’s really spread. How do we not know that? Do we need more time to figure that out?

There’s conflicting info over whether it’s aerosol spread (like measles) or droplet (like flu). Also conflicting info on how long it lives on surfaces and whether it’s spread by human waste. Also we don’t know if cats can give it to us 🙂

What’s needed to figure out all that info? To get a concrete idea of how it’s transmitted/lasts on surfaces.

Honestly, we need a few more good laboratory studies! Just observing that the virus is *there* doesn’t mean it’s “infectious.”

Dumb question. What’s the difference between the virus being there and it being infectious?

We may detect it … but it may not be able to get anyone sick — it may be a dead virus.

So, it’s summer and we’ve seen some of the studies that have scientists/researchers sounding the alarm about HVAC/AC systems potentially spreading the virus. Is that something that we know for sure has been spreading the virus or is that also something that needs more studying?

Great question. There are a number of studies showing that airflow changes patterns of transmission inside a restaurant or building — but it’s not sure that it’s spread “through” the AC system. Instead, it’s likely due to air blowing the virus droplets (or aerosols) into certain locations.

Is that why it’s so important to not be inside, in a contained space with a group of people?

It’s important to not be in a contained space with a group of people because the virus is “stuck” if you’re inside!

Imagine spraying something stinky in a closed box, compared to spraying it outside … you’d smell it much longer, and much more strongly, in the closed box, compared to outside.

You also mentioned that we don’t know the real fatality rate for the virus. Why is that? And what will help us determine it?

We still don’t know how many people have been infected, because of delays in getting testing going. Without knowing the denominator (the number of people infected), it’s impossible to know the fatality rate (which is the number of people who die, divided by the number of people infected).

Importantly, the case-fatality rate likely differs for different populations. So, for example, it will certainly be higher for the elderly, than for the young.

Do we know if there’s any risk of the virus being spread by cigarette or vape smoke/vapor?

Great question — I have not seen any studies of that. We do know that current smokers have higher risk of severe illness and death, though.

Do we just need more time to study the virus? Or is there also the issue that the science just isn’t there? Like we don’t have the skills or knowledge to do certain things?

It isn’t a lack of skills/knowledge — it’s (a) time, and (b) funding to make sure it’s done well.

Also, a lot of the stuff that’s being published right now is being published as a “preprint” — which means that it hasn’t been reviewed by other scientists yet. Which means that we need to be more careful in how we read it — some (are) a little less trustworthy than others.

So time to get it done isn’t something we can change. But funding is! Is there more funding being provided? Or does more need to be put towards it? And how are universities/research institutions that are researching things. How are they handling the lockdown/social distancing? Is that hampering research?

There IS more funding being provided … but social distancing has made it tougher, especially for clinical research. Most universities temporarily stopped or drastically cut back their research due to COVID-19 — due to lack of PPE and concerns about infection.

And … I’d highlight that research on many other things influences COVID-19. So it’s about funding in general. For mental health, for cancer, for injury patterns — not just for COVID-19.

What’s the danger in “preprint?” Better put, why do scientists need to review it?

Peer review catches unintentional errors, problems with analyses, and unsubstantiated conclusions. It generally results in stronger and more reliable publications.

So peer review will help clear the air about which treatments appear to be working, and which appear to be doing more harm than good (i.e. anti-malaria drugs). And that’s another thing we don’t know. Whether those drugs are doing more harm than good, right?

We don’t yet fully know which drugs work, and for whom.

There are some very promising trials and there are some promising basic science studies. It is essential for us to balance potential risk with potential benefit. … good scientific trials help us do that.

And we also don’t know how long people are infectious, and if they can be reinfected, right? And we don’t really know the long-term effects that some people may get from having the virus.

Correct on both counts. We don’t think it’s likely that people can be reinfected in the short term (eg 1-2 months) but we don’t know about longer term.

Is there anything else that we don’t know, that just really stands out to you? Or you don’t think has gotten enough attention?

I think talking about the long-term consequences is important. We don’t know what happens to you if you catch it, and get better. We are seeing some early signs that it may hurt your lungs and brain long-term, but we just don’t know.

What we know about COVID-19

We know the genome of the virus. Why is that important?

Because it helps us to (a) identify if/when it mutates, (b) track its spread (c) identify treatments and vaccines (because we focus in on specific targets on the virus.)

You mentioned in your Twitter thread that we know how to fight this. If we get more testing, do contact tracing better which isolates and identifies exposed and sick people, and get better PPE, we don’t have to social distance as much. Why is that?

We have to social distance in order to prevent transmission. We currently try to social distance from *almost everyone* because we don’t know who might be infectious. But if we know exactly who is sick, and if those people stay isolated from others, then the rest of us can go about our business without worrying.

Do we know that people out in parks/at the beach are safe from getting the virus? People that aren’t wearing masks at the beach but that may be social distancing, they are okay and not in a high risk situation?

Re: being at parks/at the beach — there’s a gradient of risk. Being outdoors is lower risk than being indoors, because the virus dissipates. It’s *possible* to get infected if you’re downwind from someone who’s sick, but it’s unlikely. (I’ll go back to my analogy above about a strong smell. If you’re on the beach, and someone sprays a perfume, you won’t smell it at all, or might smell it for a very little period of time. If you’re in a closed room, though, you’ll smell it for a while).

So if we know who is sick, and they aren’t in the general population/interacting with others, we can relax social distancing … close families/friend groups can gather, within reason?

Correct! BUT it’s important to also have random testing of asymptomatic people — because (a) people can be infectious before they have symptoms, and (b) current data suggests that 1/3 of people don’t ever get symptoms (but may still be infectious)

And we know what constitutes “high-risk” exposure.

High-risk exposure = inside, close together. The longer you’re close to someone who’s sick, the higher the chances of your getting infected. We can’t yet say “2 feet” or “6 feet” or “12 feet” is adequate inside — current recommendations are 6 feet but there’s debate about that.

But how do we prevent high-risk exposures from careless people? Or people that just don’t know they have it?

Great question re careless people. This is where consistent, high quality public health messaging is important. We need to (1) make it easy for people to stay home if they’re sick (make sure they have food, make sure they have sick leave, etc), (2) create NORMS that they will stay home (e.g., people feel that they’re *expected* by their friends and family to stay home.)

Some may also add (3) enforce isolation by checking on people daily, and maybe even having fines if they break isolation. This is more extreme but is sometimes needed.

So we know that the virus is affecting people differently because of their socioeconomic status. But it’s also affecting some ethnicities more. What are the science and facts telling us about how it’s affecting them differently, and why?

We know that minorities and people of lower socioeconomic status are disproportionately more likely to be infected, and to die. Current data suggests that this is because of structural inequalities — for example, because minorities less frequently have jobs that allow them to work from home — NOT because of genetic differences. This may also reflect well-established differences in access to high-quality health care. We are still trying to figure out the exact reasons, but these observations are similar to patterns in, for example, maternal mortality among blacks vs. whites.

What you need to remember about COVID-19

So we’ve talked about what we know about COVID-19. But what do you wish people knew about it, in addition to everything we just talked about? What do people need to know about it in a broader sense?

In a broader sense, I wish people knew a few things.

First, that they knew how quickly and hard scientists have been working to try to enhance our scientific knowledge about the virus. People have literally been working around the clock to try to define the virus, identify potential therapeutic and vaccine targets, define patterns of transmission, and create new ways to keep us all safe. But good science takes time.

Second, it’s normal for us to express uncertainty in science — to be honest that we don’t know things, and sometimes even to change what we say. That’s part of the scientific process. Good scientists will be honest about what they do and don’t know, and will be honest when they’re wrong. That’s not being political, or being cagey.

Third, even though this is a novel virus, there are very standard public health measures that work for reducing the transmission of infectious disease. These are test, trace, isolate, and protect. When we say that these work — it’s based on over a century of evidence.

Fourth, good public health helps support a strong economy. Few physicians, scientists, and public health professionals would describe COVID-19 as an either/or situation. There are great ways to *both* reopen *and* keep us all safe. We are pressing for PPE, testing, and contact tracing in order to restart the economy. There are also great ways to support our communities while recognizing that the world has changed.

So we may not have a cure for the virus, but we know how to beat it. And that’s through standard public health measures.

Well … I wouldn’t say how to “beat it.” I’d say “how to decrease its impact.” This virus will not go away, and anyone who claims that they will “defeat it” is being glib. Instead, we want to “contain it.” We know how to help our society stay as healthy and safe as possible. while we simultaneously work to improve our knowledge of both prevention and treatment.

We are in a new normal. Standard public health measures work to protect us from a new surge, and allow us to go back to work :).

Coronavirus links

Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

  • March 6, 2020: Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) confirms the first case in Indiana. Officials say the Marion County resident had recently traveled to Boston to attend a BioGen conference as a contractor.
  • March 8: ISDH confirms a second case. A Hendricks County adult who had also traveled to the BioGen conference was placed in isolation. Noblesville Schools says a parent and that parent’s children will self-quarantine after attending an out-of-state event where someone tested positive.
  • March 9: Avon Community School Corp. says a student on March 8 tested positive.
  • March 10: ISDH launches an online tracker. Ball State University basketball fans learn the Mid-American Conference tourney will have no fans in the stands. Three businesses operating nursing homes in Indiana announce they will no longer allow visitors.
  • March 11: The Indianapolis-based NCAA announces the Final Four basketball tournaments will happen with essential staff and limited family attendance. The Big Ten announces all sports events, including the men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, will have no fans starting March 12. Ball State University suspends in-person classes the rest of the spring semester. NBA suspends all games, including the Indiana Pacers, until further notice. Butler University and the University of Indianapolis extend spring break, after which they will have virtual classes.
  • March 12: Gov. Eric Holcomb announces new protections that led to extended public school closings and the cancellation of large events across the state. The NCAA cancels its basketball tournaments. The Big Ten suspends all sporting events through the winter and spring seasons. The league including the Indy Fuel hockey team suspends its season. Indy Eleven says it will reschedule four matches. Indianapolis’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled. 
  • March 13: The Indiana High School Athletic Association postpones the boys basketball tournament. Wayzata Home Products, a Connersville cabinet maker, shuts down and lays off its entire workforce due to market uncertainty. Holcomb announces actions including the elimination of Medicaid co-pays for COVID-19 testing and the lifting of limits on the number of work hours per day for drivers of commercial vehicles. Franklin College says it will begin online classes March 18 and empty residence halls of students in two days. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis closes indefinitely. The Indianapolis Public Library joins other libraries across Indiana and closes all facilities indefinitely.
  • March 14: The Indiana Gaming Commission says all licensed gaming and racing operations will close in two days for an indefinite period.
  • March 15: Indiana had its first death. St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis announces it will suspend all elective, non-urgent surgeries.
  • March 16: Indiana had its second death. Gov. Holcomb announced the first Hoosier death. He closes bars, restaurants and nightclubs to in-person patrons, but maintains carryout and delivery services.
  • March 17: Indiana had its third and fourth deaths. ISDH announces Indiana’s second death. Gov. Holcomb activates the National Guard. Purdue, Butler and Indiana State universities cancel May commencement ceremonies.
  • March 18: Indiana had its fifth death. Eli Lilly and Co. says it will use its labs to speed up testing in Indiana. The 500 Festival suspends all events. Simon Property Group closes all malls and retail properties.
  • March 19: Holcomb extends Indiana’s state of emergency into May. Holcomb says he’ll close all K-12 public and nonpublic schools; standardized testing was canceled. The state’s income-tax and corporate-tax payment deadline was extended to July 15. Holcomb says the state will waive job search requirements for people applying for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Indiana’s high school boys basketball tournament was canceled.
  • March 20: Indiana’s death toll rose to 9. ISDH announces Indiana’s third death. Holcomb moves the state’s primary election to June 2. Indiana University says it is postponing May commencement ceremonies on all campuses.
  • March 21: Indiana’s death toll rises to 14. ISDH announces Indiana’s fourth death. Indiana National Guard says it and the state Department of Transportation are distributing medical supplies to hospitals.
  • March 22: Indiana’s death toll rises to 18. ISDH announces seven deaths.
  • March 23: Indiana’s death toll rises to 23. Holcomb orders nonessential Hoosiers to “stay at home” from March 24-April 7. Eli Lilly & Co. begins drive-thru testing for the coronavirus for health care workers with a doctor’s order. Ball State University cancels the May commencement.
  • March 24: Indiana’s death toll rises to 28. Fred Payne of Indiana Workforce Development says any Hoosiers out of work, including temporary layoffs, are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.
  • March 25: Indiana’s death toll rises to 33. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Indianapolis 500 is moved to Aug. 23.
  • March 26: Indiana’s death toll rises to 42.
  • March 27: Indiana’s death toll rises to 45.
  • March 28: Indiana’s death toll rises to 58.
  • March 29: Indiana’s death toll rises to 77.
  • March 30: Indiana’s death toll rises to 91.
  • March 31: Indiana’s death toll rises above 100, to 113. Holcomb extends the limits of bars and restaurants to offer only “to go” and “carryout” through April 6.
  • April 1: Officials extend Marion County’s “stay at home” order through May 1. Marion County health officials say they will start COVID-19 testing services for front-line employees.
  • April 2: The state announces K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. Indiana High School Athletic Association cancels spring sports seasons.
  • April 3: Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. The Indiana National Guard says it, the Army Corps of Engineers and state health officials will begin to assess sites for alternate health care facilities.
  • April 6: The state reports a Madison County nursing home has had 11 deaths. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. He also limits additional businesses to carry-out only.
  • April 7: Indiana health commissioner Box says four long-term care facilities have 22 deaths that appear to be related to COVID-19.
  • April 10: ISDH said 24 residents of a long-term care facility in Madison County have died from COVID-related illness.
  • April 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 500.
  • April 16: Indiana records more than 10,000 positive coronavirus tests. The governor says he expects Indiana to experience a reopening in early May.
  • April 20: Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order to May 1. The governor also says if the medical supply chain is in good shape, other elective medical procedures can resume April 27.
  • April 22: The Tyson facility in Logansport voluntarily closes so 2,200 employees can be tested for COVID-19.
  • April 24: The Indianapolis City-County Council approves $25 million to help small businesses. Fishers City Council creates a city health department.
  • April 25: ISDH says it will launch an antibody testing study for Hoosiers; thousands of residents were randomly selected to participate in the study.
  • April 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,000.
  • April 28: Indiana officials say they will open COVID-19 testing to more Hoosiers, with expanded criteria and new testing services at 20 sites around the state.
  • April 29: The state says it will spent $43 million on contact tracing.
  • April 30: Indianapolis extends its stay-at-home order through May 15.
  • May 1: Gov. Holcomb announces a phased reopening plan for the state of Indiana. He also extends the “stay at home” order to May 4.
  • May 3: Indiana records more than 20,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • May 4: Indiana enters Stage 2 of its Back on Track plan, which excludes Cass County until May 18, and Lake and Marion counties until May 11.
  • May 6:The state begins testing for all Hoosiers at 20 sites, with plans to expand the number of sites to 50 in a week. Ivy Tech Community College says it will continue virtual classes when summer courses begin in June. 
  • May 8: Cris Johnston, director of the Office of Budget and Management, says the state missed out on nearly $1 billion in anticipated April revenues; all state agencies will be given budget-cutting goals. Purdue University OKs plans to reopen for the fall semester with social distancing and other safety measures.
  • May 13: The first phase of a state-sponsored study of the coronavirus estimated about 186,000 Hoosiers had COVID-19 or the antibodies for the novel virus by May 1. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans for limited reopenings of worship services, retail establishments, libraries and restaurants.
  • May 15: Simon Property Group reopens Castleton Square Mall, Circle Centre Mall, and Fashion Mall at Keystone
  • May 18: Indiana reports its first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child. The Farbest Foods turkey-processing plant in Huntingburg is closed for three days; 91 people had tested positive there.
  • May 21: Indiana records more than 30,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • May 22: Indiana advances to Stage 3 of the Back on Track reopening plan. Indianapolis closes portions of five streets to allow restaurants to reopen with outdoor dining only.
  • May 26: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,000.
  • May 27: Indiana University says the fall semester will have in-person and online courses, plus an adjusted calendar through May 2021. Ball State University says the fall semester will be 13 straight weeks of in-person classes with no day off on Labor Day and no fall break.
  • May 29: Places of worship in Marion County can begin holding indoor services at 50% capacity with proper social distancing. Jim Schellinger, Indiana secretary of commerce, said the federal Paycheck Protection Program has made 73,430 loans in Indiana totaling $9,379,164,461, the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has made 5,070 loans in Indiana totaling $445,428,500, and the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans Advance program has made 38,365 grants in Indiana totaling $136,554,000.
  • June 1: Marion County restaurants begins serving customers indoors and outdoors with 50% capacity. Marion County salons, tattoo parlors reopen by appointment only. Marion County gyms, fitness centers and pools reopen with 50% capacity and no contact sports. However, a Marion County curfew that began the night of May 31 and continued into the morning of June 3 after rioting impacted the reopening of some businesses.
  • June 3: Phase 2 of statewide testing of random Hoosiers by the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and the Indiana State Department of Health begins.
  • June 5: Indiana reports May tax revenues were 20% short of projections made before the coronavirus closings started.
  • June 8: Indianapolis leaders agree to spend $79 million in coronavirus relief funding on contact tracing, rent relief, personal protective equipment and support for small businesses.
  • June 12: Indiana, excluding Marion County, advances to Stage 4 of reopening plan.
  • June 15: Casinos and parimutuel racing reopen in the state. Marion County’s public libraries begin a phased reopening. Indiana records more than 40,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • June 19: Marion County advances to Stage 4 of state’s reopening plan.
  • June 24: Holcomb says the state’s moratorium on the eviction on renters will be extended through July. Indiana announces it will create a rental assistance program July 13. Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon says he has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • June 27: Indiana hospitalizations for COVID-19 begin to increase, with about 33 new patients a day through July 1.
  • July 1: The governor pauses Stage 5 final reopening plan, announces Stage 4.5 from July 4-17.
  • July 4: Indiana’s Stage 4.5 reopening plan begins.
  • July 9: Indiana records more than 50,000 positive coronavirus tests. Marion County mandates mask-wearing.
  • July 10: Indianapolis Public Schools announces its reopening plans.
  • July 11: Indy Eleven resumes 2020 season with victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis reopens.
  • July 13: Indiana begins rental assistance program for all counties but Marion County. Marion County begins its own rental assistance program.
  • July 15: Indiana announces the Stage 4.5 reopening plan will continue another two weeks. The WNBA season begins.
  • July 16: Indianapolis suspends applications for its rental assistance program due to overwhelming demand.
  • July 24: Bars, taverns and nightclubs in Indianapolis are shut down again. City officials also return to other previous restrictions.
  • July 25: Indiana Fever begins WNBA season after delays.
  • July 27: Indiana governor’s order to wear face coverings begins. Great Lakes Valley Conference, which including University of Indianapolis, postpones most fall sports, including football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball, until spring.
  • July 30: NBA season resumes.
  • Aug. 4: Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Aug. 23 Indianapolis 500 will be run without fans.
  • Aug. 9: Indiana records more than 75,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Aug. 11: Indiana’s death toll rises above 3,000.
  • Aug. 17: Indianapolis Public Schools restarts with online-only classes. News 8 learns the 2021 NBA All-Star Game will not happen on Presidents Day weekend in 2021.
  • Aug. 20: Purdue University suspends 36 students after a party at a cooperative house.
  • Aug. 21: Indiana high school football season begins with some teams not playing due to COVID-19 concerns.
  • Aug. 23: Butler University tells undergraduates that instruction will occur remotely for the first two weeks of the semester, starting Aug. 24, instead of in classrooms.
  • Aug. 24: Purdue, Indiana, IUPUI and Ball State universities resume in-person classes.
  • Aug. 25: Reports say a fraternity, a sorority and a cooperative house at Purdue University are under quarantines.
  • Aug. 26: Gov. Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Sept. 25. Indiana’s rental assistance program will take applications for one last day.
  • Aug. 27: Indiana University says eight Greek houses are under 14-day quarantines.
  • Sept. 2: Indiana University tells 30 Greek houses in Bloomington to quarantine.
  • Sept. 6: Indiana records more than 100,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Sept. 8: Marion County allows bars and nightclubs to reopen with 25% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors.
  • Sept. 12: The Indianapolis Colts open their season with a loss in a Jacksonville stadium with a limited number of fans.
  • Sept. 21: The Indianapolis Colts home opener is limited to 2,500 fans.
  • Sept. 23: Gov. Eric Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Oct. 17.
  • Sept. 24: The state’s mask mandate is extended through Oct. 17.
  • Sept. 25: The Mid-American Conference announces it will start a six-game football season Nov. 4, with the championship game Dec. 18 or 19.
  • Sept. 26: Indiana advances to a revised Stage 5 of Indiana Back on Track plan with relaxed limits on gatherings, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and more. Marion, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties decided to have more restrictive limits, however.
  • Sept. 27: The Indianapolis Colts second home game is limited to 7,500 fans.
  • Sept. 28: Purdue University says it’s suspended 14 students, including 13 student-athletes, for violations of a pledge designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic on campus.
  • Sept. 30: The Indiana State Department of Health’s online coronavirus dashboard began showing data on positive coronavirus cases in Indiana schools.
  • Oct. 1: IU’s website shows two additional fraternities and a sorority at the Bloomington campus have been issued “cease and desist” orders.
  • Oct. 2: Franklin College suspends classes and moves to virtual education and activities through Oct. 9 after a “concerning and unusual” increase in the positivity rate for COVID-19.
  • Oct. 12: Franklin College returns to in-person classes.
  • Oct. 13: Indianapolis-based drugmaker Lilly pauses its trial of a combination antibody treatment for coronavirus for safety reasons.
  • Oct. 14: Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announces she has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Oct. 15: Gov. Holcomb issues executive order to extend mask mandate and Stage 5 reopening plan.
  • Oct. 16: Indiana’s death toll rises above 4,000.
  • Oct. 18: The Indianapolis Colts third home game was limited to 12,500 fans.
  • Oct. 23: The Big Ten begins its football season.
  • Oct. 30: Gov. Holcomb extends the public health emergency through Dec. 1.
  • Nov. 1: Indiana National Guard to begin deploying to long-term care facilities to provide coronavirus assistance. The Mid-American Conference football teams begins its six-game regular season.
  • Nov. 5: Indiana records more than 200,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Nov. 8: The Indianapolis Colts fourth home game was limited to 12,500 fans. .
  • Nov. 10: Indiana’s death toll rises to 5,000.
  • Nov. 12: Indianapolis calls for schools to go to virtual learning by Nov. 30.
  • Nov. 15: Indiana adds coronavirus-control restrictions for all businesses and gatherings in counties with the highest number of new cases as part of an update to the statewide COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • Nov. 16: Indianapolis limits capacity inside bars, private clubs, fraternal organizations and gyms to 25%; inside restaurants, libraries, funeral homes, swimming pools and shopping malls’ food courts to 50%; and inside religious services to 75%. Marion County Health Department requires preregistration for COVID-19 testing after increased demand at three drive-thru locations.
  • Nov. 22: Indiana records more than 300,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Nov. 23: Indianapolis Public Schools returns to virtual learning through Jan. 18.
  • Nov. 24: The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball seasons begin; some games had no fans in the stands.
  • Nov. 25: Indiana’s death toll rises above 6,000.
  • Nov. 26: Butler University men’s basketball cancels Nov. 29 game against Eastern Illinois after a positive COVID-19 test.
  • Nov. 28: Butler University men’s basketball team postponed two more games because of a positive COVID-19 test.
  • Dec. 1: Bankers Life Fieldhouse hosts its first NCAA men’s basketball game, Kansas vs. Kentucky, since the start of the pandemic.
  • Dec. 2: Indianapolis ends its rental assistance program.
  • Dec. 5: The men’s basketball game of No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2, Baylor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is postponed 90 minutes before tipoff after two Bulldogs test positive.
  • Dec. 6: Indiana’s death toll rises above 7,000.
  • Dec. 9: Indiana records more than 404,000 positive coronavirus tests. Holcomb says virus restrictions will now by county based on ratings that show the local virus spread. Indiana and Purdue universities cancel the Old Oaken Bucket football game set for Dec. 12.
  • Dec. 10: Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston says he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Dec. 11: The Pacers lose to the Cavaliers as the NBA preseason begins. The Carmel Walmart in Westfield closes for nearly two days to sanitize the store.
  • Dec. 12: Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns tests positive for the coronavirus.
  • Dec. 14: Health care workers receive the first coronavirus vaccinations in Indiana.
  • Dec. 15: Vice President Mike Pence holds a roundtable in Bloomington at pharmaceutical maker Catalent on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Indiana and Purdue again cancel the Old Oaken Bucket football game that’d been reset for Dec. 18.
  • Dec. 16: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,000.
  • Dec. 20: The Indianapolis Colts allows up to 10,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team’s game against the Houston Texans.
  • Dec. 22: NBA starts league’s 75th season, delayed and shortened to a 72-game schedule because of the pandemic.
  • Dec. 23: In response to the high volume of unemployment claims, Holcomb extends the suspension of certain requirements to expedite the hiring and training of temporary workers to more quickly resolve unemployment issues. Indiana Pacers to host first home game against New York Knicks with no fans present.
  • Dec. 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 9,000.
  • Dec. 29: Indiana records more than 500,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Dec. 31: Indiana’s death toll for 2020 is 9,459 (as recorded through March 4, 2021).
  • Jan. 1, 2021: Indiana’s death toll rises above 9,500.
  • Jan. 3: The Indianapolis Colts allow 10,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Jan. 4: Grades 1-12 schools in Marion County are allowed reopen to in-person learning. Perry Township Schools is the only district to reopen to in-person learning.
  • Jan. 5: Purdue and Nebraska postpone a men’s basketball game over health and safety concerns.
  • Jan. 7: Indiana’s death toll rises above 10,000.
  • Jan. 8: Hoosiers 80 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
  • Jan. 13: Hoosiers 70 and older can get the coronavirus vaccine.
  • Jan. 18: NFL announces the scouting combine will not happen in Indianapolis in February.
  • Jan. 20: Indiana records more than 601,000 positive coronavirus tests. Indiana Pacers host up to 1,000 at a game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the first fans since the pandemic began.
  • Jan. 21: Indiana’s death toll rises above 11,000.
  • Feb. 1: Hoosiers 65 and older can get the coronavirus vaccine. The Indianapolis St. Patrick’s Day parade is canceled for the second year in a row.
  • Feb. 4: More than 1,500 coronavirus deaths were added to the Indiana State Department of Health’s dashboard after an audit found they were not recorded. News 8 learns all games for the Big Ten men’s basketball tourney will move from Chicago to Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
  • Feb. 7: Indiana to change school protocols for classroom quarantine and contact tracing.
  • Feb. 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 12,000. Indiana records more than 650,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Feb. 17: Indiana officials announced plans for a $448 million program to give housing assistance to Hoosiers.
  • Feb. 19: The NCAA says up to 25% capacity will be allowed for all rounds of the men’s basketball tourney including the Final Four. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the May 30 Indianapolis 500 will have fans.
  • Feb. 19: Indiana’s death toll rises above 12,100.
  • Feb. 23: Hoosiers 60 and older can get the coronavirus vaccine.
  • Feb. 25: Indiana records more than 660,000 positive coronavirus tests. Capacity limits at bars, restaurants, gyms, and music venues in Marion County were adjusted after a consistent trend in the community’s COVID-19 positivity rate.
  • Feb. 25: Indiana’s death toll rises to 12,200.
  • Feb. 28: Indiana National Guardsmen to end assistance to long-term care facilities.
  • March 1: The 500 Festival Mini-Marathon says it will be virtual for the second year in a row.
  • March 2: Hoosiers 55 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
  • March 3: Hoosiers 50 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
  • March 4: News 8 learns up 8,000 fans will be allowed in Lucas Oil Stadium for Big Ten men’s basketball tournament games. Indiana records more than 665,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • March 5: A three-day, drive-thru, mass-vaccination clinic opens at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 16,800 Hoosiers.
  • March 12: A two-day, drive-thru, mass-vaccination clinic was set for Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg.
  • March 18: NCAA men’s March Madness games, all of them at venues in Indiana, to start with First Four games in Bloomington and West Lafayette.
  • March 26: A two-day, drive-thru, mass-vaccination clinic was set for Compton Family Ice Arena at the University of Notre Dame.
  • March 31: Holcomb’s emergency declaration with county-based restrictions and a mask mandate set to end at 11:59 p.m.
  • May 4: Indianapolis Indians set to begin delayed season with away game against Iowa Cubs.