NatGeo's 'The First Wave' streaming for 48 hours to mark 2 years since US' 1st confirmed COVID case

"The First Wave" will be available for 48 hours on our streaming apps: Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV & Android TV. Watch anytime on Hulu

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Thursday, January 20, 2022
'The First Wave' marks 2 years since 1st US COVID case
Mike Marza previews NatGeo's documentary "The First Wave."

WASHINGTON -- To mark the two-year anniversary of the United States' first lab-confirmed COVID-19 case, National Geographic Documentary Films is streaming "The First Wave" free for 48 hours.

Director Matthew Heineman's critically acclaimed documentary will be available for free and without commercials on this ABC station's streaming apps from midnight ET Thursday through midnight ET on Saturday.

Click here to learn how to download our apps for your Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV devices to stream "The First Wave."

With a focus on honoring frontline health care workers, the 48-hour virtual event includes a message from Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy along with a Facebook Live Q&A discussion scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Heineman, film participant Dr. Nathalie Dougé and the Skoll Foundation's Nancy Messonnier are scheduled to attend the Q&A.

"The First Wave" documents the harrowing first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic with health care workers at one of New York's hardest-hit hospitals, Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens. Heineman, known for his character-driven approach, embeds with a group of doctors, nurses and patients as they all desperately try to navigate the crisis.

"The First Wave" documents the harrowing first four months of the pandemic with health care workers at one of New York's hardest-hit hospitals.

"'The First Wave' is about many things, but, at its core, it's about how human beings come together in the face of crisis," Heineman said in a statement. "I hope the film serves as an homage to the brave health care workers who have risked their lives on the frontlines of this ongoing pandemic. Now, almost two years into the crisis, they deserve our gratitude and support more than ever."

This event also marks the expansion of "The First Wave" impact campaign, a cross-organizational effort to "build momentum for programs and policies that support the mental health and well-being of our health care workers, who find themselves exhausted, stressed out and, in some cases, traumatized as a result of the pandemic."

The campaign partnered with the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation, an organization advocating for passing The Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Provider Protection Act. The bill, which aims to reduce and prevent mental and behavioral health conditions among health care professionals, passed the House in December and awaits approval from the Senate. For more information on how to support, visit

The film is also available to stream on and the National Geographic and ABC apps during the 48-hour window. It remains available to Hulu subscribers.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of National Geographic Partners and this ABC station.