Building a COVID-19 Response Timeline

By Lauren Stockam, Public Health Information Specialist

At the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency in early 2020, no one knew the extent to which we would have to prolong our response to the disease. Now, over two years later, Springfield-Greene County Health is reflecting on the lessons learned and the collaboration that took place in our community. You can follow along with our new, interactive COVID-19 response timeline.

Looking back to prepare for the future

We decided to build a public COVID-19 response timeline for a few reasons:

  • Documentation
  • Education
  • Reflection

Documenting our community’s response to COVID-19 creates a guidepost for a future pandemic response, should we need it again. Knowing when we took specific actions, such as limiting capacity of indoor gatherings, can help future community leaders determine if and when those actions may be necessary again.

A response timeline also serves as an educational tool for future students and learners who might not have been present, old enough or who want to learn more about our response to COVID-19. We hope this tool will provide a real-time look at our community during the emergency.

Finally, building a response timeline allows our community to reflect on all that we experienced from January 2020 to June 2022. Navigating the timeline reminds us of what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained and how we rely on each other in times of crisis. While many events are sobering, just as many are cause for celebration.

Mapping out our COVID response

Building a comprehensive timeline of the COVID-19 emergency was a huge task. The first step was to determine phases; we broke up the long list of events into time periods between significant shifts in the way we responded to the disease.

In the end, we mapped out eight phases:

  1. State of Emergency: January-May 2020
  2. Road to Recovery: June-August 2020
  3. Emergency Use Authorization: September 2020-January 2021
  4. Finish Strong 417: February-April 2021
  5. Delta — In the National Spotlight: May-August 2021
  6. It’s Our Turn: September-December 2021
  7. Omicron — The First 1,000: January-March 2022
  8. Moving Forward: April 2022-Present

State of Emergency covers the initial onset of COVID-19 in the United States and the prevention efforts the city and county implemented to delay the presence of the disease in our community. This included actions like the stay-at-home order, closing schools and creating a dashboard to track confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Road to Recovery begins when the community slowly started to reopen with occupancy restrictions, face covering requirements and social distancing measures still in place. At this point, we had avoided a surge in disease because of community efforts.

Emergency Use Authorization covers the first disease surge our community experienced in fall 2020 and the beginning stages of the COVID-19 vaccine approval and rollout. Finish Strong 417 highlights the local vaccination campaign as COVID-19 vaccines became available to the general public.

Delta — In the National Spotlight outlines summer 2021, when the Delta variant of COVID-19 took hold of Southwest Missouri and made us the early national epicenter. This time period holds many lessons and hard reflections for our community, as we led the way for the nation in tackling the new, highly infectious variant.

It’s Our Turn highlights a big milestone: When pediatric COVID-19 vaccines became available. At this point, Springfield-Greene County Health opened a mass vaccination clinic and focused on vaccinating our community through outreach efforts, educational campaigns and making clinics more accessible.

Vaccination efforts in fall 2021 helped alleviate the presence of severe illness during phase 7: Omicron — The First 1,000. The Omicron variant took hold of the world in late 2021 and led to the largest case surge in our community since the start of the pandemic. On January 19, 2022, we surpassed 1,000 daily local cases for the first time.

Quickly, though, the Omicron surge subsided. Case rates dropped significantly, which allowed us to lift our heads from the COVID-19 emergency for the first time in two years. Phase 8: Moving Forward does not imply the end of COVID-19 but highlights final prevention steps and how our community plans to focus the next few years of recovery.

Acknowledging the toll of COVID-19

Creating a tool for the community to look back on the COVID-19 emergency comes with a caveat: The pandemic is a collective trauma we experienced to varying degrees.

At Springfield-Greene County Health, we have made a renewed effort to focus on mental health for our employees and our community. It’s a focus many of us have had to pursue in the wake of the pandemic.

Reliving these memories, milestones and heartbreaks may be daunting. We encourage you to be gentle with yourself in your time of reflection. What you experienced was real and your feelings are valid.

If you are ready to take a step toward bettering your mental health, head to our mental health resources page to get started.

Thank you for walking alongside us during the COVID-19 emergency. We will continue to be here for the community with a renewed sense of purpose. We are committed to our vision of helping all people live longer, healthier, happier lives.



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