One Year: The Pandemic’s Timeline in Santa Clara County

Barely more than a year has passed since the World Health Organization declared that the coronavirus outbreak spreading across the globe was officially a pandemic, leading to the first lockdowns in the country days later.

Those first few weeks were a challenge for people across Silicon Valley as large employers, small businesses, workers and parents decided whether to wait out the pandemic before making major changes or begin adapting right away.

The question was one of optimism and back then, even local health officials seemed optimistic the region may be able to get the virus under control enough to lift lockdown orders within weeks. Those weeks turned to months and then a year, but the pandemic-induced restrictions are beginning to lift—potentially for good as vaccines are distributed throughout the Bay Area.

Here is a look back at some of the events that shaped the year.


Silicon Valley businesses began closing following the World Health Organization's announcement that the coronavirus outbreaks had become a pandemic. (photo by Greg Ramar)

March 11, 2020: The World Health Organization officially declares the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

March 16, 2020: Health officials from six Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley announce the country’s first shelter-in-place order that closes all regional nonessential businesses.

March 22, 2020: Santa Clara County health officials report they’ve conducted 647 tests since late February. The public health department’s lab only has the capacity to run 100 tests a day.

March 31, 2020: Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody extends the shelter-in-place order five weeks, from April 7 to May 3.


April 6, 2020: Santa Clara County accepts its first two patients at its 250-bed field hospital in the Santa Clara Convention Center.

April 22, 2020: Santa Clara County health officials reveal that autopsies show two residents died of Covid-19 earlier than previously known. Days later, it’s revealed that the first person to die of Covid-19 in the country was 57-year-old San Jose resident Patricia Dowd.


Nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis started in May, 2020, including in San Jose. (Photo by Greg Ramar)

May 10, 2020: A Mercury News analysis of Santa Clara County death records finds the coronavirus has hit poor, largely Latino neighborhoods in East San Jose the hardest.

May 18, 2020: Santa Clara County institutes a mask mandate for all businesses.

May 22, 2020: San Jose extends its eviction moratorium through June.

May 29, 2020: The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis leads to nationwide protests, despite concerns about gatherings during the pandemic. A group of mostly masked protestors arrive at San Jose City Hall and over the next few days the protests include clashes with police and some businesses are damaged in downtown.


June 16, 2020: San Jose moves more than 30 homeless residents from trailers gifted by the state stationed at a city-owned parking lot near Happy Hollow Zoo. The trailers cost the city $1.3 million to refurbish and prepare the land and were used for a month before deemed unsafe.


A view of Hi-Life bar in San Jose shortly after the stay-at-home order was issued. (Photo by Greg Ramar)

July 3, 2020: Confusion over state lockdown orders frustrates business owners when officers from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control shut down multiple restaurants in Morgan Hill.

July 22, 2020: Concern over an impending eviction wave rises after a new study from Working Partnerships USA and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley finds 43,000 Santa Clara County renters are at risk of eviction due to the pandemic.


August 5, 2020: California launches Project Homekey to create permanent housing at motels, hotels and apartments complexes for homeless residents.

August 14, 2020: Santa Clara County inmates go on hunger strike, in part to protest Covid-19 restrictions.

August 21, 2020: Moreland School District in San Jose becomes the first district in the Bay Area to get an in-person learning waiver.


Law enforcement shuts down road in early days of CZU lightning complex fire. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula)

September 9, 2020: Bay Area skies turn sepia and orange as wildfires burn across the state. The worsening air quality keeps already cloistered residents inside.


October 30, 2020: Covid-19 concerns push residents to vote early by mail in the 2020 presidential election. Five days before the election, 511,326 voters had already cast their votes—nearly double the amount in 2016.

October 30, 2020: The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s sues Calvary Chapel Church to stop indoor services for 600 mostly mask-less worshipers.


November 17, 2020: Gov. Gavin Newson flouts his own Covid-19 rules by attending a dinner party at the French Laundry in Yountville.

November 30, 2020: The San Francisco 49ers relocate their final two games of the season to Arizona after county health officials announce a ban on contact sports.


The first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in South County in December 2020. (Photo by Michael Moore)

December 3, 2020: California lockdown restrictions tighten as hospitals reach capacity. Five Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley announce a more strict stay-at-home order the next day, closing many businesses and relegating restaurants and bars to takeout only.

December 16, 2020: Santa Clara County receives its first 5,850 doses of the coronavirus vaccine.


January 3, 2021: 44 staff members at Kaiser Permanente test positive for Covid-19 in an outbreak possibly linked to an infected staff member who showed up on Christmas Day in an air-powered Christmas tree costume.

January 13, 2021: Santa Clara County surpasses 1,000 deaths from Covid-19.


February 9, 2021: Santa Clara County partners with the 49ers to open the largest vaccination center in the state at Levi Stadium.

February 14, 2021: The vaccine clinic at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose shutters following reports that senior hospital staff allowed teachers in the Los Gatos Union School District to skip the line.

February 26, 2021: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Santa Clara County can’t ban indoor worship services after five local churches sued over the restriction, citing its infringement on their right to practice religion.


March 8, 2021: Santa Clara County opts out California’s new vaccine program, which will be run by insurer Blue Shield.

One Comment

  1. That’s the author’s local timeline.

    This is the NATIONAL timeline:

    December 14, 2019: WHO tells the world the China virus is “not contagious.”

    December 2019 – February, 2020: Schiff’s Senate committee ignores Covid-19; discusses the President’s impeachment instead

    January 21, 2020: The first American case of Covid-19 is reported

    January 29, 2020: President Trump appoints Dr. Birx of the CDC to head the country’s Virus Task Force

    January 31, 2020: President Trump takes action, baning all travel from China

    February 6, 2020: President Trump is acquitted by the Senate

    February 6, 2020: Senator Joe Biden calls President Trump “xenophobic” for banning travel from China to the U.S.

    February 7, 2020: Rep. Nancy Pelosi labels President Trump “racist,” telling Americans to “Come and visit Chinatown.”

    March 30, 2020: Pelosi says, “Trump fiddled with the virus, and now people are dying.”

    March 31, 2020: Sen. Adam Schiff promises to impeach President Trump for Covid-19

    Shall I go on? Or is the anonymous author of this Leftist propaganda smart enough to know that readers aren’t as stupid as presumed?

    If Biden had been president he’d still be talking about a vaccine. But he wouldn’t be doing anything. That’s not his style.

    Biden is a talker, not a doer. Talking has been Biden’s M.O. during 51 years in government,. As we see, he hasn’t changed a bit.

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