What this is
This is a timeline following the emergence of COVID-19 globally and within the United States. In addition to tracking the evolution of the virus itself, this Timeline focuses on the resistance and the response to how the pandemic has been managed. In particular, this timeline tracks the way that histories of white supremacy, racism & xenophobia, misogyny, ableism, economic injustice and conditional access to care shapes the US response to COVID-19.
Our goal is to track the stories of this pandemic to help us better understand its impact on the care and respect that we are NOT collectively receiving. Our goal is to interrogate how chaotic and contradictory and still rooted in the violence of the past these moments truly are. Included with the Timeline is a curriculum providing reflection questions to support going deeper with these stories & facts rather than just experiencing them as information.
We start the timeline just before COVID-19 is identified. We wanted to show that even before the pandemic emerged, the United States had gone through a process of defunding many of the public health supports needed to survive healthcare crises, including pandemics. The larger timeline that we are working on will show more than the few years preceding the pandemic. Instead, it will show the 500+ years that shaped this moment in which we live. There is no endpoint for this timeline. We will continue to add to it, eventually merging it into the larger timeline.
We offer this timeline and curriculum along with an offering of gratitude. We are grateful to every single care provider, both within and outside of formal healthcare settings, who has fought and continues to fight for the lives of those who are struggling. We are grateful for care workers who have shown up for those in pain and for the kin of those whose people were dying and could not be sat with. We are deeply grateful for those who have not been confused about the violence of racism, of state-mandated isolation through prisons and detention centers, and the violence of poverty which continues to inform who among us is most likely to get sick and die and who is most likely to be protected. May our work here be one small part of ending what should never have started in the first place.
We link arms with every single person and community whose lives have been directly impacted by this last year. We know that it will take time to process the events of this past year. We lift up our need for the space to grieve, individually and collectively. We offer the work on this site as one place that honors the relationship between our right to tell the stories of what we have experienced as part of the process of grieving and our desires to build power through our collective stories.
Why this exists
This Timeline is part of a larger timeline that we have been working on for the last fifteen years, a timeline of the history and evolution of the medical industrial complex. The timeline of the US Medical Industrial Complex shows the intersections of scientific racism, experimentation and exploitation by the medical industry as an extension of state control and racial capitalism. This timeline weaves together a wealth of data points that helps us to remember these histories. History repeats itself unless we interrupt it, and in order to interrupt it, we must know our histories. Only with knowing these histories can we best understand the context of the present and vision a different future.
And so we are releasing this timeline now, while we are still living in a pandemic, even as the nature of the pandemic is changing. We do this knowing that some of you reading this have lost loved ones to COVID-19. We know that some of us reading this will still experience more loss in one of the tomorrows to come. We are in it. Our physical and mental health, individually and collectively, is impacted. Our people, known and unknown, are dying. We are losing elders.
Let us say that again: we are losing elders.
We are losing people with disabilities, we are losing young people, we are losing whole families, lines of relationships and kin. This is disproportionately affecting Black people, Latinx people, Native people. It is also affecting all our communities.
We are losing healthcare workers and other frontline caregivers to the virus and to the impact of exhaustion and stress at trying to meet an epidemic with limited resources.
We do not yet know the extent of the impact of this virus on its survivors, both physically and psychologically.
And yet here we are. All together. In the middle of it.