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A Brief History of 2020 in California, in Photos

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ImagePeople lining up in their vehicles at Dodger Stadium for Covid-19 testing during a post-Christmas surge in positive coronavirus cases in Los Angeles.
People lining up in their vehicles at Dodger Stadium for Covid-19 testing during a post-Christmas surge in positive coronavirus cases in Los Angeles.Credit…Bing Guan/Reuters

Good morning.

One of the stranger aspects of 2020 has been the way the pandemic has made time feel more elastic. Months passed in what felt like days. Days felt like eternities.

But we made it. Tomorrow will, in fact, be a new year. Here’s a short timeline of 2020 in California to remind you of how far we’ve come:

  • Jan. 26: Kobe Bryant, the Lakers legend, dies in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others. His death is shocking, and spurs an outpouring of grief in Los Angeles and around the world.

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A memorial for Kobe Bryant on Feb. 5, outside the gated community in Newport Coast, Calif., where he lived.Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times
  • Feb. 6: Patricia Dowd, a 57-year-old auditor at a Silicon Valley semiconductor manufacturer dies in her kitchen in San Jose. Months later, in April, it will be found that she died of the coronavirus, in what was then the first known case of community transmission, hinting at how widely the virus had spread undetected in the United States.

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The Santa Monica pier, temporarily closed to visitors because of the pandemic, on March 18.Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times
  • March 19: Gov. Gavin Newsom orders Californians — all 40 million of us — to shelter in place. It is the most drastic measure any governor takes at the time to control the virus.

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Protesting in the wake of the death of George Floyd, in Santa Monica on May 31.Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times
  • May 31: After protests erupted around the country following the killing of George Floyd, National Guard troops patrol the streets of Los Angeles for the first time since 1992. Even though Mayor Eric Garcetti at first said he wouldn’t call in the National Guard to respond to demonstrations, he reversed course.

  • Aug. 16: At 3:41 p.m., a temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit is recorded in Death Valley. It’s the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

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Inmate firefighters walked toward flames from the Bear Fire in Oroville on Sept. 10.Credit…Christian Monterrosa for The New York Times
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Heavy smoke from fires in the region bring an odd glow to the Bay Area.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times
  • Sept. 9: Fires burn across Northern California, part of what experts will describe as the worst fire season in the state’s history. Residents of the Bay Area wake up to eerie orange skies, the sun blotted out by smoke.

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Senator Kamala Harris becomes Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
  • Nov. 7: Senator Kamala Harris becomes the first Black woman, first South Asian woman and first Democrat from California to win on a national presidential ticket.

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Nancy Hendra, a nurse, received her first injection of a coronavirus vaccine at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez on Dec. 15.Credit…Sarahbeth Maney for The New York Times

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  • The governor on Wednesday unveiled a $2 billion plan to reopen schools for in-person learning in February. [The New York Times]

Read about the state’s latest restrictions and guidelines. [CA.gov]

  • A more contagious variant of the coronavirus that has been spreading through Britain has been discovered in San Diego County. [The New York Times]

  • Track coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations across the state. [The New York Times]

  • Find out where the state is setting up alternate care sites. [CA.gov]


I’ll be on “vacation” next week — i.e., sitting on my couch, avoiding computer screens and going for long walks around my neighborhood — but you’ll be in capable hands with my colleagues. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy new year.

We’ll be off tomorrow for the holiday.


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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