Timeline: COVID-19 in the Bay Area

It's been approximately a year since the whole world seemed to have stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether your company decided to allow you to work from home, your children had no other option than to take virtual classes or if you were one of the hundreds of people to be laid off due to the pandemic, the coronavirus affected the lives of all of us across the Bay Area.

As we find ourselves witnessing the first COVID-19 vaccines being distributed hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel, here's a look at a timeline of COVID-19 in the Bay Area in the last year.


On Dec. 31, 2019, the World Health Organization Country Office in the People's Republic of China learned about cases of "viral pneumonia" in Wuhan.

As time progressed and investigation was underway, the first COVID-19 death in China happened Jan. 11, 2020. At this point, the virus had already made its rounds around the world, including California.

The California Department of Public Health reported California’s first two cases of COVID-19 in travelers from Wuhan, China. The cases announced Jan. 26 were in Los Angeles and Orange counties. There were two other known cases in the U.S. at the time.


The death of a San Jose woman on Feb. 6 became the first known U.S. death from COVID-19.

Officials in Santa Clara County said two people died at home on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17. The Medical Examiner-Coroner later confirmed that tissue samples sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested positive for the virus. Here's what we reported on:

Santa Clara County on Monday announced its first death from the coronavirus, according to the county Public Health Department. Damian Trujillo reports.

Also in the Bay Area, a Solano County woman became the first U.S. case involving community transmission, meaning she didn’t have any known contact through travel or with a known infected person. Cheryl Hurd reported this story:

In what may be the United States' first coronavirus case of transmission through person-to-person transmission in the general public, a resident of Solano County is being treated for the novel virus at UC Davis Medical Center, officials said. Cheryl Hurd reports.

It was in February when the WHO announced an official name for the then-called novel coronavirus. In addition, they provided specifics as to why they chose to call it as such. See the tweets below:


By March, coronavirus cases were starting to increase all across our Golden State. So much so that Gov. Gavin Newsom officially declared a state of emergency on March 4.

On March 9, a few days after the state of emergency was declared, the Grand Princess cruise ship docked at the Port of Oakland sparking worry and concern among Bay Area residents. The ship traveling from Hawaii to San Francisco was carrying more than 3,500 people from up to 50 different countries.

Raw chopper video shows the Grand Princess cruise ship, with at least 21 people on board infected with the coronavirus, enter San Francisco Bay on its way to the Port of Oakland.

The ship was held off the California coast to test people with symptoms of the coronavirus. Images of crew members wearing masks and gloves circled social media, and word of crew members delivering trays with food in covered plates outside travelers' doors spread out.

Passengers and crew aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship come from all over the world. One of the challenges now is how to get them home. Getting that done will involve Oakland International Airport, which is raising red flags for some travelers. Marianne Favro reports.

"I don't think people should be on cruise ships that are elderly," Gov. Newsom said on March 10, full of concern as people started disembarking the Grand Princess cruise ship. "I don't think you should high-five one another and hug strangers at large sporting events if you have an underlying health condition."

Shortly after on March 15, Bay Area officials issued a shelter-in-place mandate ordering residents to stay at home and go outside only for food, medicine and outings that are absolutely essential.

Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties asked all residents to stay at home and not report to work unless they have essential jobs.

You may remember this was around the time some people started stocking up on essentials. These were the days when toilet paper was scarce and lines at the grocery stores and gas stations were longer than usual. Take a look:

Finally, on March 19, Gov. Newsom issued a stay-at-home order to curve the spread of coronavirus in California. This order forced non-essential businesses and restaurant dining to close thus affecting the livelihoods of thousands of people. Take a look at some footage from the day of the announcement:


As coronavirus cases continued to increase, Newsom outlined six conditions for the state to begin loosening the stay-at-home order, including more testing, more protective equipment for health care workers and better ability to track infections.

New guidelines to reopen the state were laid out by Governor Newsom Tuesday and we’re just weeks away from some industries opening back up. Ian Cull reports.

Back then, the governor said the state needed to be careful in reopening as going too far could revert us back to the begin. Here's more:

"I want to caution everybody, if we pull back too quickly and we walk away from our credible commitment to not only bend this curve but to stop the spread of the virus, it could start a second wave that could be even more damaging than the first and undo all of the good work and progress that you've made," Newsom said.

You can read the full story here.

Temperatures began rising as we approached the warmest months of the year and health officials worried this would drive crowds to the beach - and it did.

Authorities began closing parks, beaches and parking lots to residents of the area only to avoid large crowds and spread of COVID-19.


California saw more than 50,000 infections but new cases and weekly death tolls dropped significantly. Newsom praised Californians for helping slow the infection rate and announced new guidelines allowing some counties to reopen more of their economies.

In the Bay Area, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties were on the list and barbershops and hair salons were able to reopen.

Hair salon owners in the North Bay are sharpening their scissors and cleaning their combs now that Governor Newsom has cleared the way for them to reopen. Terry McSweeney found a Napa salon where excitement was high and business was booming.


This month, contact tracing became more common across the Bay Area as did coronavirus testing. Various counties were offering free COVID-19 testing across the region.

Social bubbles. Remember hearing that? Basically, this term was used to describe a group of about 12 people from different households that were allowed to hold social gatherings outdoors.

This was seen predominantly in school groups. Here's a look at how kids adjusted to learning this way.

In addition, more and more businesses began reopening at around this time with one caveat - dine outside. In San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area, restaurant patrons decided to install plexiglass shields, have hand sanitizer available and use paper menus to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Joe Rosato took a deep dive into this, here.

Outside dining in San Francisco reopened Thursday, but as more restrictions are lifted health officials worry about the rise in COVID-19 cases across the state. Bob Redell reports.

On June 18, Gov. Newsom issued an order requiring  people to wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoors when distancing isn't possible. Almost a year later, we're still wearing masks to go to the grocery store, pick up a coffee from a local coffee shop and maybe even for a walk at the park. Take a look back at when the order was issued.


Due to celebrations like 4th of July and continuous surge of coronavirus cases across the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom order closure of some businesses. Take a look:

In addition, he also said all parking lots at Bay Area state beaches would be closed during the 4th of July weekend.

The surge in cases continued and businesses across the Bay Area had to close once again after having recently reopened. Business declined so badly due to the pandemic, that some restaurants had to permanently close.

Such was the case of Louis' Restaurant in San Francisco.

At some point it was even mentioned that robots may become the new normal to avoid having people at restaurants and spread the virus. Here's more.


The pandemic changed the lives of everyone, including students. For 2020 high school graduates in the Bay Area, the pandemic is made them consider taking a gap year. Read more about it here.

In August, San Mateo County was one of the first counties in the region to approve an ordinance to fine anyone who didn't wear a face covering while in public. Do you remember? Here's more.

Wear a mask or pay the price. Berkeley also joined this concept:

Most students continued to attend classes virtually. However, teachers in areas like San Jose were expected to be in the classroom and teach their virtual class there. This had many mixed feelings from teachers, parents and students. Take a look.

Speaking of education, the coronavirus pandemic also highlighted the digital divide that many students experience depending on their housing status or neighborhood they live in. Many nonprofits in Oakland took it upon themselves to bridge that divide.


Despite hair salons and barbershops being closed in San Francisco, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was faced with criticism after apparently violating San Francisco’s health order by getting her hair done inside a salon. You might remember this video:

At this point, the pandemic has lasted a lot more than many expected and it has been challenging. The past months have been so trying that it made a San Jose family question their faith after finding out both parents and three children tested positive for COVID-19. the family was able to find solace and calm in talking to a San Jose deacon. Damian Trujillo brought us this story.


The coronavirus pandemic has given food banks a lot more work delivering food to folks at home. However, they're also facing the challenge of not having enough volunteers to help them as many fear to contract the virus. NBC Bay Area reporter Scott Budman tells us more.

A San Jose church continuously defied COVID-19 public health orders limiting indoor services, and the county took legal action to put a stop to it.  Details here.

As many other events and celebrations, Halloween got cancelled or slightly modified this year. But many Bay Area families got creative and celebrated in a different way.


The cold weather and upcoming holidays created a perfect scenario for yet another surge. At this point, hospitals across the Bay Area and the rest of California have very low bed capacity and businesses continue to struggle.

This month, president-elect Joe Biden won the presidential race and vowed to handle the coronavirus pandemic different than Donald Trump did. Biden unveiled his new coronavirus task force which includes at least one Bay Area professional. NBC Bay Area reporter Cierra Johnson reported

With more holidays in sight, health officials asked Bay Area residents to stay home and not travel this year to avoid the spread of the virus. Some residents complied and stayed home with their immediate families. Take a look.

However, some residents decided to travel despite health orders and airports reported high traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Due to a surge in cases, Gov. Newsom decided to implement yet another stay-at-home order. But in this case, it was different and more limited than the one at the beginning of the pandemic:


We are so close to exactly a year since the coronavirus began making an appearance all across the world and slowly spreading to the Bay Area and the rest of California.

What we thought would be a few weeks, turned into a year and counting. Many family members and friends across the Bay Area unfortunately contracted the virus and others even died from it.

This month, however, a light at the end of the tunnel can be seen as a number of COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and distributed across Bay area hospitals.

Christmas this year looked a lot different for many people as they stayed at home with immediate family or even alone. In San Jose, Christmas in the Park looked a lot different than previous years:

Finally, as the year approached its end, news of a COVID-19 variation made its way to Southern California alerting health officials and scientists.

Here, we look back at the longest 12 months ever.

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