Updates: 

There are now at least 33,018 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, as testing becomes more readily available
428 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness
With West Virginia reporting their first case on Tuesday evening, the virus has now spread to all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia
Worldwide, there are now 350,536 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 15,328 deaths
Italy has officially surpassed China in number of deaths related to the virus on Thursday, and now have 5,476


The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-2019, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.

At first, this coronavirus was contained to China, but Wuhan is a major transportation hub with hundreds of flights leaving and landing from the city of 11 million each day. Soon, as people flew from the area to different countries, the coronavirus reached more countries, including the United States.

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As of the morning of March 23, there have been at least 33,018 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., and 428 deaths.

The first case was found in Everett, Washington, just outside of Seattle, in a man who had recently returned from Wuhan. The number of cases grew slowly from there, with a total of just 14 over the course of about a month, but as February came to an end, the virus began to spread more rapidly in communities across the U.S.

On Feb. 26, California health officials announced the first case of community spread — meaning someone had contracted coronavirus despite no recent travel, and had likely unknowingly come in contact with someone with the disease. From there, the number of U.S. cases jumped up, particularly in Washington state, where there are now 1,844 people with coronavirus, and 98 deaths.

The first death came on Feb. 29, in a woman in her 50s with pre-existing health conditions. The second followed just one day later, in a man in his 70s who also had pre-existing health conditions and was living in a long-term nursing facility near Seattle. Health officials have since announced 98 more deaths in the state.

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The State Department chartered three flights to bring Americans who had been living in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, back to the U.S., and three of the passengers are currently quarantined to recover from coronavirus, according to the CDC. And in mid-February, the State Department decided to fly back Americans who had been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been quarantined in Japan after an outbreak of coronavirus among the passengers. In total, 46 American passengers from that ship contracted coronavirus.

U.S. Cases of Coronavirus Top 33,000: Here's an Updated Map of the Spread_1
Confirmed cases of coronavirus internationally, as of the morning of March 23Martin Schwartz/PEOPLE

Worldwide, there are now over 350,536 cases of coronavirus, and 15,328 deaths. The vast majority of cases and deaths had been confined to mainland China until the last three weeks, when major outbreaks occurred in South Korea, Italy and Iran. As of Thursday, Italy has officially surpassed China in the number of deaths.

The increase in cases outside of China led the CDC to urge Americans to start preparing for the virus to spread in the U.S. with the "expectation that this will be bad."

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in a press briefing on Feb. 25.

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And on March 11, President Donald Trump announced a ban on travel from the U.S. to Europe for 30 days to "keep new cases from entering our shores," he said in an address from the Oval Office, beginning Friday at midnight. The CDC had already recommended that Americans cancel any non-essential travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, and urged older Americans to avoid going to Japan. Additionally, they have restricted foreign nationals from China and Iran from entering the U.S.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico have mutually agreed to close the shared borders to non-essential travel.

Trump declared a national state of emergency in the U.S. on March 13 as the number of cases rise. However, the true number of cases is unknown, largely due to a delay in available testing kits from the government.

Epidemiologists have said that Americans need to start practicing "social distancing" — staying inside as much as possible and keeping about 6 feet of distance from people — to limit the chance of asymptomatic people spreading the coronavirus further.

The CDC also says that the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful handwashing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.