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Visualized: Key Events in the COVID-19 Timeline

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COVID-19 timeline: key events of the pandemic

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Visualized: Key Events in the COVID-19 Timeline

It’s been a long and eventful year since COVID-19 was officially declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.

The tangible and intangible costs of COVID-19 have been severe. In this visual COVID-19 timeline, we delve into some significant milestones that have occurred around the world.

December 2019-February 2020

Pre-Pandemic COVID-19 Timeline

The origin story actually begins at the turn of the new year, as events began bubbling under the surface in Wuhan, China. The first coronavirus cluster was reported on December 31, 2019, with initial exposures linked to the Huanan Seafood Market.

In the new year, the first coronavirus cases began filtering outside of China, to Thailand and the U.S.—causing the WHO to declare a public health emergency of international concern. As the death toll ticked up to over 200, it was clear that this was no ordinary virus.

covid-19 prepandemic events timeline

All dates in the graphic are based on when events occurred rather than when they were widely reported.

In February 2020, the novel coronavirus was finally named COVID-19. In addition, the Diamond Princess cruise ship was linked to 624 confirmed cases in late February—the highest case cluster outside of China at the time. The ship captured international headlines when it was refused port in a number of countries, casting COVID-19 into the spotlight.

This month also marked a significant turning point. Dr. Li Wenliang, a Chinese doctor, had tried to draw global attention to the severity of China’s outbreak before he passed of COVID-19 on February 7, 2020.

If the officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier I think it would have been a lot better […] There should be more openness and transparency.
—Dr. Li, in a NYT interview a few days before his passing

Italy and Iran then grew significantly as global hotspots of COVID-19. The U.S. reported its first death due to COVID-19—however, it was only discovered in April that there were in fact two prior deaths due to the virus in the country.

On March 11, 2020, WHO made a critical decision. As the virus began to transcend borders and claim thousands of lives, it announced that the COVID-19 outbreak had officially become a deadly global pandemic.

In the year that followed, the virus was relentless in spreading around the world. How have cumulative case counts and death tolls evolved since the beginning?

DateCumulative CasesCumulative Deaths
February 1, 202012,038259
March 1, 202088,3942,996
April 1, 2020958,58650,535
May 1, 20203,368,225242,691
June 1, 20206,284,173378,365
July 1, 202010,675,433513,479
August 1, 202017,852,606681,368
September 1, 202025,772,515857,960
October 1, 202034,326,3741,024,204
November 1, 202046,597,7181,202,376
December 1, 202064,006,9231,485,018
January 1, 202184,054,3701,835,383
February 1, 2021103,410,0002,245,069
March 1, 2021114,420,0002,538,582

Source: Our World in Data via Johns Hopkins University

Let’s explore key events in the COVID-19 timeline that took place over the course of the past year.

365 Days of the Pandemic

The initial impacts of the pandemic were felt swiftly, and progressively became worse. Within the first three months, the world paid a high human and economic toll.

March-May 2020

Whiplash for the World

Following the WHO announcement, numerous sporting events were cancelled, from the NBA and NHL 2019-2020 seasons to the UEFA Euro men’s soccer championship. Even the Tokyo Summer Olympics were postponed for a year.

In late March 2020, the U.S. surpassed China to become the hardest-hit country by COVID-19. In terms of overall case numbers, it remains the global epicenter of the pandemic today, followed by India and Brazil.

The stock market took a severe hit, with a crash rivaling other recessions and significant financial crises. For example, here’s how the Dow Jones Index Average dropped in March alone:

EventDateDow Jones Industrial Average (% change)
Black Monday IMarch 9, 2020-7.79%
Black ThursdayMarch 12, 2020-9.99%
Black Monday IIMarch 16, 2020-12.93%

Stock markets re-entered a bull market in April, but the damage had already been done. The S&P 500, for example, would only return to pre-pandemic levels in August.

The onset of the pandemic led to additional economic chaos. The price of oil flipped negative in April, and over 10 million Americans lost their jobs in the sudden downturn.

To help prop up the economy, the U.S. unveiled the $2 trillion CARES Act, the largest economic stimulus package in history—near 10% of national gross domestic product.

Multiple countries locked down their borders to the rest of the world, from the European Union to India. These travel bans and reduced mobility affected not just airline revenues, but temporarily had a noticeable effect on carbon emissions too.

In addition, two world leaders—UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Russia’s President Mikhail Mishustin—contracted COVID-19.

June-November 2020

A Deadly Surge

Numbers kept rising over the next six months, following the shifting geography of COVID-19 into densely populated regions such as Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. In a controversial move, Brazil stopped making its COVID-19 case data public starting June 7, 2020.

Global deaths due to COVID-19 surpassed half a million at the end of June—and jumped to over 1 million by the end of September. Another heartbreaking record was set in mid-October when global cases leapt up by 1 million in just three days.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda were among many more world leaders to test positive for COVID-19.

December 2020-March 2021

Vaccines Bring Hope

At the very end of 2020, some optimism for things going back to normal was restored when Moderna announced the very first vaccine candidate, followed by Pfizer/BioNTech.

However, more alarm was raised as reports of a faster-spreading, more infectious strain of COVID-19 emerged from the UK. Two more variants have also since been discovered:

VariantDate identifiedLocationCountries with Reported Cases
(Feb 28, 2021)
B.1.1.7Sep 2020🇬🇧 United Kingdom94
B.1.351Oct 2020🇿🇦 South Africa48
P.1Jan 2021🇧🇷 Brazil*25

*Note: P.1 was first detected in Japan but traced back to Brazil

In January 2021, WHO organized an international scientific consultation around these variants. The good news? Existing and emerging vaccines will still potentially provide adequate protection against these variants.

In March 2021, the U.S. Congress approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. Some details of the money breakdown include:

  • Up to $1,400-per-person stimulus payments for 90% of households
  • $350 billion in state and local aid
  • $8.5 billion to rural hospitals and healthcare providers

The rest is expected to go towards safely reopening K-12 schools, assisting hard-hit small businesses, extending food stamp benefits, vaccine R&D and distribution, and more.

An End in Sight for the COVID-19 Timeline?

With the global vaccine rollout now underway, many more key vaccine producers, from AstraZeneca/Oxford University to Johnson & Johnson, have joined in the fight to return life to normal.

Although there have been deep losses due to COVID-19, many hope that we’ll learn from the lessons of this past year, and emerge stronger than ever.

We have come so far, we have suffered so much and we have lost so many. We cannot, we must not squander the progress we have made… Science, solutions and solidarity remain our guide. There are no short-cuts.—Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO

Correction: In a previous version of the graphic, Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin, was incorrectly listed as President.

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Pandemic Recovery: Have BEACH Stocks Bounced Back?

BEACH stocks—bookings, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—were pulverized at the beginning of the pandemic. Here’s how they’ve bounced back.

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Pandemic Recovery: Have BEACH Stocks Bounced Back?

The travel and entertainment industries have had a volatile ride over the last year.

During the initial stages of the pandemic, when panic and uncertainty ran rife, BEACH stocks–booking, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—were left scrambling. Collectively, $332 billion in market cap washed away.

Now, it appears the tide might be turning for these companies, buoyed by vaccine breakthroughs and glimmers of hope for a return to normalcy.

This infographic looks at the growth in market cap value across BEACH stocks one year from when the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Washing Back to Shore?

BEACH stocks have gained a collective $376 billion in market cap in the year since the pandemic was declared, with about half the companies trading at their respective all-time highs.

In fact, about 70% of BEACH stocks have actually outperformed the S&P 500, which returned 43.7% during the same period.

CompanyTickerCategoryMarket Cap: 03/11/20 ($B)Market Cap: 03/11/21 ($B)Change
American AirlinesAALAirlines7.214.296%
Southwest AirlinesLUVAirlines23.534.446%
Alaska Air GroupALKAirlines5.78.142%
United AirlinesUALAirlines13.017.233%
Air CanadaACAirlines5.97.933%
Delta Air LinesDALAirlines29.130.96%
Expedia GroupEXPEBooking12.024.6105%
Allegiant TravelALGTBooking2.04.198%
Booking HoldingsBKNGBooking64.096.051%
Caesars EntertainmentCZRCasino & Hotel2.220.8824%
Norwegian Cruise LinesNCLHCruise & Casino4.310.9151%
Royal Caribbean CruisesRCLCruise & Casino10.822.4108%
CarnivalCCLCruise & Casino16.431.893%
Penn National GamingPENNEntertainment & Live Events2.620.4661%
Six FlagsSIXEntertainment & Live Events1.74.1142%
Live NationLYVEntertainment & Live Events10.819.379%
The Walt Disney CoDISEntertainment & Live Events201.2357.177%
Cedar FairFUNEntertainment & Live Events1.82.857%
HiltonHLTHotels25.034.638%
Marriott InternationalMARHotels35.648.235%
Choice Hotels InternationalCHHHotels4.55.930%
Hyatt HotelsHHotels6.78.729%
Marriott Vacations WorldwideVACHotels & Resorts3.87.7103%
Vail ResortsMTNHotels & Resorts7.113.488%
Park Hotels & ResortsPKHotels & Resorts3.45.358%
Wyndham Hotels & ResortsWHHotels & Resorts4.26.451%
MGM Resorts InternationalMGMResorts & Casino10.219.389%
Wynn ResortsWYNNResorts & Casino9.715.964%
Las Vegas SandsLVSResorts & Casino40.748.218%

BEACH Stocks Leaders and Laggards

When dissecting this basket of stocks by industry, it’s clear that much of the recovery story is lopsided. One reason for this, despite the pandemic, is that there are more granular, idiosyncratic trends occurring within these sectors.

Let’s look at what’s propelling the leaders, and dragging down the laggards:

Leading: Online Betting

There’s reason to be bullish on gambling stocks. Since late 2018, some 20 states have legalized sports betting, with more expecting to follow. Relative to other areas, the pandemic has been kind to gambling stocks. Many of those with an online presence have witnessed a spike in traffic, as more people continue to flock towards online betting.

Within the BEACH stocks basket, Penn National Gaming and Caesars Entertainment are clear outliers, having grown an epic 661% and 823% respectively. In addition, the broader industry (measured by the BETZ ETF) has nearly doubled the performance of the S&P 500 since its inception.

Laggard: Airlines

The return to normalcy will be much more delayed for airlines. Global RPKs, an industry metric, are not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Actions of insiders also seem to match this negative sentiment. Warren Buffett, once a staunch supporter of airlines, decided to call it quits during the pandemic—dumping his entire position.

Airline COVID RPKs

U.S. airline executives have collectively been selling their stakes much more aggressively than in the last few years. To add insult to injury, there’s significant shorting of airline stocks as well. At a short interest of 11.6%, American Airlines is most heavily shorted BEACH stock.

Laggard: Hotels

In a year where social interactions and gatherings have largely disappeared, so too has much of the business activity for hotels. For instance, Hilton sales suffered a 58% decline year-over-year.

But even without the pandemic, the hotel industry had their work cut out for them, through a growing and formidable competitor in Airbnb. Airbnb can scale its network beyond what any hotel can. This is evident in its room count, which is greater than the largest hotels combined.

Airbnb room count vs hotels

More Bumps On The Road Ahead?

The investing landscape today looks to be disconnected from reality, in part because of the forward-looking nature of markets. Even though things are dire today, there’s a belief that light exists at the end of the tunnel.

But the path to recovery isn’t quite so linear. When the dust settles, it’ll become more apparent which industries will “return to normal” and which have set out permanently on a new trajectory.

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Mapped: The Top 10 Billionaire Cities

Where do the most billionaires live? For years, NYC has topped the list of billionaire cities, but 2020 marked a monumental shift.

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top 10 cities for billionaires

Mapped: The Top 10 Billionaire Cities in 2020

In 2020, the world gained 493 new billionaires—that’s one every 17 hours.

For the last seven years, New York City has been home to more billionaires than any other city in the world. However, last year marked a monumental shift in the status quo.

Beijing has unseated the Big Apple, and is now home to 100 billionaires. That’s one more billionaire than the 99 living in New York City.

Today’s map uses data from Forbes to display the top 10 cities that house the most billionaires.

Where do the Most Billionaires Live?

The richest of the rich are quite concentrated in cities, but some cities seem to best suit the billionaire lifestyle. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 billionaire capitals and the collective net worth of all the ultra wealthy that live there.

RankCityRegionNumber of BillionairesNet Worth of the City's Billionaires
#1Beijing🇨🇳 Asia100$484.3B
#2New York City 🇺🇸 North America99$560.5B
#3Hong Kong🇨🇳 Asia80$448.4B
#4Moscow🇷🇺 Europe79$420.6B
#5Shenzhen🇨🇳 Asia68$415.3B
#6Shanghai 🇨🇳 Asia64$259.6B
#7London 🇬🇧 Europe63$316.1B
#8Mumbai🇮🇳 Asia48$265.0B
#9San Fransisco🇺🇸 North America48$190.0B
#10Hangzhou🇨🇳 Asia47$269.2B

Some cities have some obvious billionaires that come to mind. New York’s richest person and former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is worth $59 billion. Beijing’s richest billionaire is the founder of TikTok (among other things), Zhang Yiming with a net worth of $35.6 billion.

In terms of the locations themselves, London, New York, and San Francisco are the only Western cities to make the list. Though New York was ousted from the top position last year, altogether the city’s billionaires are still worth more than Beijing’s.

One new city to make the top 10 list of billionaire cities was Hangzhou, the home of Jack Ma. It booted out Singapore from the 10th spot.

East Meets West

More than half of the top 10 cities are located in Asia, providing evidence of the shift eastwards when it comes to seats of wealth. Five of the six Asian cities listed are all in China.

What’s helped lead to this?

The country has seen an e-commerce boom, not in the least thanks to the pandemic. Additionally, the efficient handling of COVID-19 has allowed the economy to get back on track much more quickly than other countries. According to the BBC, 50% of China’s new billionaires have made their wealth either through tech or manufacturing.

Four of the Chinese cities on the list also had the biggest billionaire growth in 2020. Each of them gained more than 10 net new billionaires:

  • 🇨🇳 Hangzhou: 21
  • 🇨🇳 Shanghai: 18
  • 🇨🇳 Shenzhen: 24
  • 🇨🇳 Beijing: 33

The only other city to gain more than 10 new billionaires in 2020 was San Francisco with 11.

Now sitting at 698 billionaires, China is coming up on the 724 held by the United States. Beijing overtaking NYC could be the beginning of a larger tipping point.

Shifting Tides

Asia-Pacific’s collective 1,149 billionaires are worth $4.7 trillion, while U.S. billionaires are worth $4.4 trillion in total wealth.

Overall, it looks like the wealth tides may be turning as China continues to progress economically and more billionaires become based in the East over the West.

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