CALIFORNIA, USA — On March 19, 2020 Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide shelter-in-place order. In response to an unprecedented public health threat, it was an equally unprecedented shuttering of day-to-day life. “This is not a permanent state,” Newsom assured us at the time. “This is a moment in time. And we will meet this moment together.”
On Friday, that moment will have stretched — and stretched and stretched — into a year.
The changes that have racked Californians are big and small, obvious and subtle. We can mark them by the daily toll of this terrible virus, the days spent out of work or out of school. But also in the pictures of empty beaches and baseball fields, the collection of face masks hanging on front-door knobs, the time we didn’t spend sitting in traffic, the odd hobbies we took up and the friends we miss.
All of these changes have left a data trail. In highway crash statistics, unemployment claims, anti-Newsom lawsuits and florist sales, the numbers present a “before” and “after” picture of these last surreal, lonely, heartrending, life-ending and life-altering 365 days.
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