Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

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Aug 12: Almost 1,500 people die from COVID today. The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, threatens to retaliate against Russia if the reports of Russian bounties on American heads in Afghanistan are true.  Investigators from Kaiser Permanente publish their findings showing that patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 to 44 kg/m2 have a risk of death from COVID-19 that is more than twice that of individuals whose BMI is 18.5 to 24 mg/m2

Aug 13: Still a presidential nominee, Joe Biden calls on all governors to require their citizens to wear masks anytime they go out in public through November, and he claims he will mandate the practice if elected. At this point, there are a reported 165,000 deaths from COVID-19, and the measure is estimated to save 40,000 lives in the coming months. President Trump says that he opposes critical funding Democrats want for the United States Postal Service because he doesn’t want it spent on mail-in voting. “They want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically … But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting,” New jobless claims fall below 1 million for the first time since March. The Senate adjourns until September, still with no Coronavirus relief bill. President Trump praises the author of a Newsweek op-ed that falsely suggested that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) might not be eligible to be vice president,

Aug 14: The United States Postal Service warns that delays could prevent voters’ mail-in ballots from being counted this November in almost every state. Former President Barack Obama urges lawmakers to fight against what he called President Trump’s attempt to “actively kneecap the Postal Service.”

Aug 15: The federal agency issues an EUA for SalivaDirect, a test developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health that is less invasive compared with the current standard nasal swabs. With shorter wait times not affecting test sensitivity, labs can reportedly run 90 test samples, which are collected in sterile containers, in under 3 hours. Heat, fires, and rolling blackouts continue to plague California.

Aug 16: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-N.Y.) says that she is calling the House back from recess to vote on proposed legislation seeking to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from reducing service levels and causing mail delays ahead of the November election. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill reports its fourth cluster of COVID cases since the semester began less than a week ago.

Aug 17: In just 4 days, there’s been a 3.2% uptick in COVID-19–related deaths, to 170,434, giving the disease a No. 3 ranking behind heart disease in the top spot and cancer at No. 2. Deaths now exceed 1000 per day and nationwide cases exceed 5.4 million. Testing has dropped off by an average 68,000 per day, despite death being 8 times more likely in the United States vs in Europe. The virtual Democratic National Convention. Michelle Obama headlines. UNC-Chapel Hill in-person classes after one week. Polls show Biden’s lead over Trump narrowing. U.S. District Judge Frederic Block rejects a Trump administration push to roll back protections for transgender patients against discrimination by health-care providers and health insurance companies.

CNBC Television. Fed Chair Powell: Fed Plans to Work with U.S. Mint and Create Task Force to Address Coin Shortage. CNBC, 2020.
CBS Evening News. Shortage of Coins in Circulation Causes Concerns for Small Businesses and Consumers. CBS Evening News, 2020.
Pete Williams, “Government Watchdog Says Top DHS Officials Not Legally Qualified To Serve,” | Hallie Jackson | MSNBC, August 14, 2020,

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Beckworth, David. “Inflation: A Misguided Fear.” National Review (blog), May 6, 2020.
Smith, Gary. “Inflation Is the Least of Our Worries!” Mind Matters, June 29, 2020.
Smith, Kelly Anne. “Is There Really A Coin Shortage?” Forbes, July 20, 2020.
Spears, Marc J. “LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes and Other Stars Sign Letter to Fight Voter Suppression.” The Undefeated (blog), August 17, 2020.
U.S. Federal Reserve. “The Fed – Why Do U.S. Coins Seem to Be in Short Supply?” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, August 7, 2020.
Reilly, Steven Johnson, Eisen, Paquette, and Lower. A bill to prohibit municipalities from requiring an individual to wear a face covering…, Pub. L. No. 6134 (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.