Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

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Jul 21: President Trump announces at the resumed Coronavirus Task Force briefings that the virus will “probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better,” as the daily death rate rises over 1,000 in the last day. He signs a presidential memorandum calling for excluding undocumented immigrants from being counted when new congressional district maps are drawn next year.  He vents to Bob Woodward: “The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault.” Woodward reports this in his September book, Rage. a A federal study published in JAMA Internal Medicine argues that U.S. coronavirus cases could be from six to 24 times higher than current confirmed total. Two experimental vaccines, one from AstraZeneca and the other from CanSino Biologics, show promising results against COVID-19.  Twitter bans 7,000 accounts that have been repeating QAnon conspiracy theories.

Jul 22: HHS and the Department of Defense (DOD) strike a partnership with biotech giants Pfizer and BioNTech for a December delivery of 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, BNT162. California surpasses New York as the state with the most COVID cases. The House votes to remove statues of Confederate figures from the Capitol. “It’s past time that we end the glorification of men who committed treason against the United States in a concerted effort to keep African Americans in chains,” says bill co-sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). President Trump announces that his administration is expanding a crackdown on violent crime by sending “hundreds” of federal agents to the Democratic-run cities of Chicago and Albuquerque.

Jul 23: Findings from a research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicate that levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, dropped dramatically across the first 3 months of infection. At this rate, researchers note that antibody resistance would be depleted within a year, although experts note that the possibility of being infected again with the virus is very unlikely. The U.S. hits 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19

From the cutting room floor ...

 “Have you seen this??” emails a colleague in epidemiology, pointing to the news that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense have reached an agreement to pay Pfizer Inc. and the German firm BioNtech SE $1.95 billion to produce a vaccine when it becomes available. They will produce at least 100 million doses of a vaccine and the United States Government will have first access to it. This is part of Operation Warp Speed, the government program run by former drug industry executives to make sure that when the COVID-19 vaccine is discovered, Americans will get it first. These executives have not all divested themselves from the companies that are receiving federal money. Billions have already gone to companies like Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. This is not inherently problematic; these are the companies that have the resources to pursue a vaccine. They are filled with earnest people working hard to end this pandemic. “What makes the deal with Pfizer and BioNtech worrisome,” my epidemiologist colleague writes, “is that the rate paid per dose is double what these other companies promised.”[1]


[1] Madeline Monroe, “$2 Billion Vaccine Deal with Pfizer Raises Pricing Concerns,” Text, TheHill, July 23, 2020,; Yasmeen Abutaleb and Laurie McGinley, “Ousted Vaccine Official Alleges He Was Demoted for Prioritizing ‘Science and Safety,’” Washington Post, May 5, 2020,


After a July 22 Black Lives Matter rally in Portland, protesters clashed with federal officers at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, escalating tensions. The Washington Post. “Portland Protesters Say Federal Forces Are Fueling City’s Anger over Policing.” Accessed May 19, 2021.

Reuters. “Tweet from Reuters.” Twitter (blog). Accessed June 14, 2021.
Jules Suzdaltsev. “person woman man camera TV” Tweet. @jules_su (blog), July 23, 2020.

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Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs. “Justice Department Releases $61 Million in Awards to Support Efforts to Combat Violent Crime in Seven U.S. Cities.” US Department of Justice, May 11, 2020.
Monroe, Madeline. “$2 Billion Vaccine Deal with Pfizer Raises Pricing Concerns.” Text. TheHill, July 23, 2020.
Office of the Attorney General. “Attorney General William P. Barr Announces Launch of Operation Legend.” US Department of Justice, July 8, 2020.
Pleat, Zachary, Alex Kaplan, and Pam Vogel. “Sinclair Gives “Plandemic” Conspiracy Theorists a Platform to Spread Their Lies about Dr. Fauci and the Coronavirus | Media Matters for America.” Media Matters for America, July 23, 2020.
Starbird, Kate. “Disinformation Campaigns Are Murky Blends of Truth, Lies and Sincere Beliefs – Lessons from the Pandemic.” The Conversation, July 23, 2020.
Stevenson, Betsy, and Zach Stanton. “How the Child Care Crisis Will Distort the Economy for a Generation – POLITICO.” Politico, July 23, 2020.
Zapotosky, Matt, and Annie Gowen. “Trump’s ‘Operation Legend’ Was Supposed to Combat Crime. It’s Produced One Arrest, and Some See a Political Stunt.” Washington Post, July 23, 2020.
Zoellner, Danielle. “Portland’s Wall of Moms Protest Group Describe the Abuse They’ve Received from Federal Officers.” The Independent, July 23, 2020.
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* Timeline summaries at the top of the page come from a variety of sources:, including The American Journal of Managed Care COVID-19 Timeline (, the Just Security Group at the NYU School of Law (, the “10 Things,” daily entries from The Week (, as well as a variety of newspapers and television programs.