California Reopens: A Coronavirus Timeline

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California Today

Tuesday: As California reopens, here’s a look back at what the state has endured.

Jill Cowan

June 15, 2021


On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the state’s reopening plan at the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco.
Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Good morning.

At midnight, it became official: California is open.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, and life isn’t back to the way it was before most of us had heard of the mysterious, deadly illness we now call Covid-19.

But the lifting of nearly all of the state’s remaining pandemic restrictions is a significant emotional and psychological milestone for residents of a state that has experienced some of the nation’s most enduring lockdowns.

As my colleagues and I reported, the reactions to today’s reopening have varied widely, from outright jubilation to continued frustration with Gov. Gavin Newsom for keeping orders in place for so long.

For many Californians, not much may change today. Workers will still have to wear masks, even if they’re vaccinated, for at least part of this week.

Still, Californians have survived a lot in the past year and a half — and that’s to say nothing of the wildfires, smoke-filled skies, heat, drought and other disasters that have befallen our state while the coronavirus has ravaged communities.

To give a little perspective, here’s a short timeline of the coronavirus pandemic in California:


Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times
  • March 9, 2020: The Grand Princess cruise ship, which was stranded off the coast of California with coronavirus cases on board, docks at the Port of Oakland. It’s a floating symbol of America’s fear of the virus.

  • March 13, 2020: The state’s four largest school districts — Los Angeles Unified, San Diego Unified, Fresno Unified and Long Beach Unified — announce they’ll close classrooms, as health officials in Los Angeles confirm eight more coronavirus cases in the county. District officials expect the closures to last weeks.


Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times


Credit...Max Whittaker for The New York Times


Credit...Peter Dasilva/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Aug. 28, 2020: Newsom unveils the state’s color-coded tier system for reopening. It will be the last framework for imposing and easing restrictions county by county.

  • Nov. 12, 2020: California becomes the second state after Texas to reach one million known coronavirus cases.

  • Dec. 3, 2020: Amid another surge in cases — the most terrifying California has experienced, because hospitals are overwhelmed — the state imposes new, stringent stay-at-home orders on a regional basis, based on the capacity of intensive care units. Restaurants offering outdoor dining close again. Families brace for distanced holidays.


Credit...Jae C. Hong/Associated Press


Credit...Mario Anzuoni/Reuters


Credit...Sarahbeth Maney for The New York Times

Compiled by Jonathan Wolfe

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