Mind and Body

6 images that sum up the last 6 months of coronavirus in the US

A refresher on the past 6 months of the pandemic, and what might come next.

Originally Published: 

The world has reached the 6-month mark of the Covid-19 pandemic. To say a lot has happened is an understatement. It can be easy to forget how we got here.

Ivan Marc/Shutterstock

These six images help tell the story of coronavirus thus far.

The virus itself

In February, scientists released pictures of the novel coronavirus isolated from a patient.

The spikes on SARS-CoV-2 are called spike proteins. They help the virus attach to receptors on human cells (called ACE2 receptors).



Spike proteins on Coronavirus were 10-20 more likely to bind to human cells than the SARS coronavirus, a March NIH study found.

The now-famous rendering of Covid-19 was created by a CDC team of medical illustrators. They decided to foreground the spiky S-proteins because of their role in its spread — although technically the virus has more M-proteins.


Droplet spray

In April, a video suggested that coronavirus could spread through loud talking in addition to coughs and sneezes.

Green dots represent the flow of spit when two scientists yelled "stay healthy." They suggested that speaking loudly could transmit coronavirus-laden droplets.

The New England Journal of Medicine.

That was coupled with data from a choir practice which led to 32 confirmed cases, and other studies suggesting that the virus can travel on small droplets.

Emerging Infectious Diseases

New York City's peak

On March 1 the first Covid-19 case in New York City was confirmed. The city quickly became the most afflicted in the US.

At its peak in New York City, the rate of new coronavirus infections doubled every three days.

That's an example of exponential growth.

This chart was shared by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In New York, the number of deaths on a single day peaked at 590 on April 7. They didn't fall below 100 until May 9, CNBC reported.

Makeshift masks

That rise in cases quickly overwhelmed hospitals.

Facing immediate or expected shortages of personal protective equipment, some doctors wore trash bags or made DIY masks to treat patients.


A split spread

A June PNAS study suggests that people still underestimate how fast coronavirus spreads.

The majority of people that study suggested that coronavirus cases increase linearly. That means they underestimated how quickly cases accumulate when asked to guess in an experiment.

Conservatives (orange) overestimated the number of cases compared to liberals (blue). (The actual number of cases is represented by the dotted black line.)

But they underestimated the rate at which cases increase – a significant trend in the study.


The "second wave" — that's actually the first

Coronavirus deaths have slowed. But cases are climbing in the South and West.
The Covid-19 Tracking Project

Though this might seem like a second wave of coronavirus, experts have cautioned that it's not.

Now scientists, policymakers, and the public are charged with making sure the next 6 months of coronavirus don't resemble the last.

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