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Year in Review: How COVID-19 overtook headlines in 2020

The Richmond News compiled a timeline of the effects of COVID-19 in 2020.
Staff at the Richmond COVID-19 testing site just outside the Vancouver International Airport.

COVID-19 dominated the headlines in 2020, so the Richmond News has compiled a timeline of how things unfolded.

January 1: World Health Organization (WHO) starts investigating reports of a novel coronavirus — later called COVID-19 — in Wuhan, China.

January 25: First “presumptive” case of COVID-19 found in Canada, in Toronto.

January 27: B.C. announces it’s developed a COVID-19 diagnostic test.

January 27: First COVID-19 case found in B.C., within Vancouver Coastal Health. Air Canada suspends direct flights from YVR to China within days.

January 30: WHO declares COVID-19 a public emergency.

February 4: Second COVID-19 case confirmed in B.C., a woman who had been in Wuhan. Two days later, another two cases would be confirmed.

February 7: Repatriation flight carrying Canadians from Wuhan lands at YVR.

February 20: Six people in B.C. so far have tested positive for COVID-19.

February 25: Cruise ship passengers from B.C. are quarantined, Later, cruise ships will be banned from docking in B.C. effectively cancelling the season.

February 28: A run on toilet paper has begun in B.C. with store shelves cleared out quickly as shoppers fear a lockdown.

March 8: First COVID-19 death in B.C.

March 11: WHO declared COVID-19 a “pandemic.”

March 12: A non-essential travel advisory is issued by the federal government. Passenger volume at YVR dropped by 90 per cent.

March 15: Richmond’s River Rock Casino closes.

March 17: In-class instruction suspended in all schools. Schools won’t open to large classes until September.

March 18: B.C. declared a state of emergency.

March 19: Richmond declared a state of emergency and city hall was largely shut down as staff worked from home. Many businesses followed suit with workers setting up home offices.

March 23: 10 COVID-19 cases detected in Richmond so far.

April 3: Man fined $1,000 for reselling face masks in Richmond.

April 5: Richmond resident Warlito Valdez, aged 47, dies at home of COVID-19 leaving behind his wife and young daughter.

April 17: COVID-19 testing available to anyone with symptoms in B.C.

May 2: A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at Richmond Hospital. The outbreak lasted until May 26 and four patients and two staff members were infected.

May 4: The City of Richmond laid off 900 staff members and redeployed 50 to other tasks.

May 11: With air travel down dramatically, the airport authority issued layoff notices to about a quarter of its staff, both management and union employees.

May 21: Special events across the city are either cancelled or go virtual because of crowd-size restrictions. There would be no in-person Maritime Festival, World Festival was cancelled and Canada Day, which turned out to be a wet one, was planned as an online celebration.

Late May: Businesses and retailers start implementing mandatory masks in their establishments, although many Richmondites were early adopters of mask wearing.

June 1: Playgrounds across the city are re-opened.

June 10: The first COVID-19 testing site in Richmond opened in the parking lot of the Richmond Tennis Club on Gilbert Avenue.

June 30: A man organizing basketball games was fined for physical distancing non-compliance. He received two tickets, one for $125 and the other for $175.

July 3: Daycamps, spray parks and the Steveston Outdoor Pool re-opened to the public. Towards the end of July, several other facilities, closed since March, were re-opened in Richmond, including Britannia Shipyards, Richmond Art Gallery and South Arm Outdoor Pool.

July 22: Across B.C., 1,000 people were self-isolating because of possible exposure to COVID-19.

August 5: Three screening officers at YVR tested positive for COVID-19.

August 6: A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at Richmond’s Lions Manor. Long-term care facilities have been hit hard by the pandemic and several in Richmond would eventuallly have outbreaks.

August 7: A spike in COVID-19 cases in B.C. was linked to private parties.

August 22: A private Richmond sports centre was fined $2,300 for violating the 50-person limit.

August 25: A surge was reported in visits to Metro Vancouver parks.

August 28: YVR and WestJet teamed up to pilot a COVID-19 rapid testing study, which launched Nov. 27.

September: Richmond School District received $7.4 million in federal grant to safely restart schools.

September 10: Schools in Richmond re-opened a few days later than previously scheduled; in some grades, about a third of students continued with remote learning. Students were organized into cohorts of 60 (elementary) and 120 (high school). Some parents balked, worrying about transmission. However, despite approximately 50 COVID-19 exposures in schools over the fall, the school district reported there were no known transmissions of the virus with the Richmond school system.

September 19: RCMP issued a $1,000 ticket to a person who failed to quarantine after travelling.

September 20: 40th annual Terry Fox Run goes virtual.

October 24: COVID-19 changed how people voted in the provincial election.Ballots cast by mail numbered almost 600,000 across the province while this number was just 6,517 in 2017.

October 26: “Safe six” is the new provincial health mantra as Dr. Bonnie Henry encourages more physical distancing. The number of COVID-19 cases had been rising steadily since early fall.

November 1: Masks are mandatory in all city-run facilities in Richmond.

November 7: Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a “circuit breaker” as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise in B.C.: only socializing with immediate family is allowed.

November 11: Richmond Remembrance Day services go virtual.

November 14: New Richmond COVID-19 testing site opened next to the airport in the JetSet parking lot.

November 21 and 27: Two quarantine tickets are issued by Richmond RCMP, one for $1,000, another for $1,150.

November 24: Cineplex closed again.

November 25: Province announced $230 ticket for not wearing a mask.

December 3: A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at Richmond Hospital in 4 North. Four days later, outbreaks were declared in 6 North and 3 South.

December 16: Richmond School District announced it would extend remote learning for a few months.

December 22: Holiday passenger volume is down 85 per cent at YVR compared to last year.

December 22: The first person in Richmond, Jodie Jackman, received the COVID-19 vaccine. Jackman works as a recration assistant in a long-term care facility.

December 27: B.C. health officer announced a variant of COVID-19 was found in the Island Health Authority. The person had returned from the U.K. and tested positive on Dec. 19. This variant seems to be more infectious than the original strain.