March 11, 2021, marks exactly one year since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, and cities across the globe began shutting down – including San Diego. Here’s a month-by-month look back at how the pandemic has unfolded in our communities.
Coronavirus Pandemic: One Year
Latest Coronavirus Impacts in San Diego County
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Officials with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency have reported 264,097 positive COVID-19 cases in San Diego County from Feb. 14, 2020, through March 9, 2021. A total of 3,413 coronavirus-related deaths have also been reported in that time span.
NBC 7 continues to track the coronavirus pandemic in San Diego County daily with updates on cases, data and more available here every evening.
Also, too re-watch the most buzzed-about videos in San Diego during the pandemic, click here.
Mid-March 2020: The Coronavirus Pandemic Reaches San Diego County - Here's How Things Unfolded, At First
A lot happened in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego County and COVID-19 cases surged. Here's a quick look back at the month that changed everything in our county -- and took us into what would soon become our "new normal" of the pandemic era.
This included quarantine operations at a 151-room Ramada hotel in Kearny Mesa that was chosen to house quarantined patients held at MCAS Miramar (March 18, 2020).
More than 480 passengers from a coronavirus-ridden cruise ship that docked at the Port of Oakland were flown to MCAS Miramar March 10, 2020, to March 12, 2020, to complete a mandatory 14-day federal quarantine. On March 27, 2020, Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director with the County Epidemiology Immunization Branch said all but three of the passengers had returned home after 14-days of quarantine, including those who had been at the Ramada Hotel.
Training Support Command at Naval Base San Diego was temporarily closed on March 14, 2020, due to three Sailors testing positive for COVID-19.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the stay-at-home order and, soon, the 2020 springtime shutdown across San Diego County began.
Schools Shut Down: Mid-March 2020
On March 13, 2020, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten shut down the second-largest school district in California. All other school districts in San Diego County followed suit. San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy closed all schools within the San Diego Catholic Diocese, too.
We later learned schools across the state would be closed for the remainder of the academic year.
Local colleges and universities also canceled classes and events and moved their operations online. This included: UC San Diego; San Diego State University; California State University San Marcos; Point Loma Nazarene University; University of San Diego; San Diego Community College District; Southwestern College; Palomar College; Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
Church Services Canceled: Mid-March 2020
As gatherings were banned, all daily and Sunday masses in the San Diego Catholic Diocese were canceled. Rock Church San Diego services were also canceled and moved to streaming online.
Beaches & Parks Closed: Mid-March 2020
On March 23, 2020, San Diego’s beaches, parks, boardwalks, and other open spaces across the county were ordered to close to restrict gatherings over 10 people prohibited by state and local laws.
Restaurant Dinings Rooms & Bars Close: Mid-March 2020
Bars and restaurant dining rooms were ordered to close in March 2020, too. Shopping malls closed. Some retailers – like clothing stores Urban Outfitters and Brandy Melville USA – temporarily closed their stores, and more would follow.
Sports, On Hold: Mid-March 2020
Sports agencies – both college-level and professional – suspended their games and seasons. MLB’s 2020 Opening Day – including the San Diego Padres big Home Opener at Petco Park – were scrapped, but in June, the MLB made plans to return to the field, without fans. The 2020 MLB season would return, with many modifications, in late July.
April 2020: A 'Critical' Month for Coronavirus in San Diego County
By April 2020, San Diego County was in the midst of a public health crisis but leaders were convinced the county could "change the trajectory" of the spread of the novel coronavirus if certain measures were taken quickly.
Over the next month, the public health order was amended several times -- to require essential businesses to utilize face coverings, to eliminate gatherings of any size and, likely the most contentious, to close beaches -- all in the name of protecting the health of its citizens.
The question was, would it help to flatten the curve? You can read all about what happened in April 2020 in San Diego County here.
May 2020: A Month of Adaptation in San Diego's Fight Against COVID-19
May 2020 was a month of adaptation in San Diego County as health officials rolled out new ways to reopen parts of local life.
With changes and public health rules in place, more restrictions on recreational activities were lifted throughout May 2020 and more businesses -- including restaurant dining rooms and in-person retail -- reopened.
Little by little, life began to pick back up, but with stark warnings from public health officials that guidelines needed to be strictly followed in order to keep flattening the curve.
Here's a look back at what happened in San Diego during the coronavirus pandemic in May 2020.
June 2020: Reopenings, Triggers, Setbacks
In June 2020, many businesses reopened in San Diego County as the coronavirus pandemic raged. This was followed by COVID-19 community outbreaks that triggered a series of setbacks in the city’s reopening.
Here’s a look back at what happened in June 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic in San Diego County.
July 2020: The 'Watch List' & The Return of Restrictions
If June 2020 was a month of reopenings (albeit, with setbacks) in San Diego County amid the coronavirus pandemic, then July 2020 was a month of the return of restrictions for many businesses as COVID-19 cases surged across California.
After hitting some COVID-19 public health triggers towards the end of June 2020, the month of July 2020 began with San Diego County landing on California's coronavirus "watch list," which spurred reopening rollbacks across a variety of indoor sectors like restaurants, gyms, and houses of worship.
County leaders said community outbreaks continued to add to San Diego's COVID case count. As testing increased, so did the case numbers. San Diego County wasn't alone, as county after county in California battled its own COVID challenges.
Due to the surge, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced schools across the state would be unlikely to return to in-person instruction in the fall and local districts began coming up with plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Those plans are still being worked out as things continue to rapidly change during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, some businesses chose to defy the local public health order. County health officials were pressed on how they were managing to enforce the public health order.
Here's a closer look, day by day, at what happened in July 2020 in San Diego County during the COVID-19 crisis.
August 2020: San Diego County Gets Off the 'Watch List' and Onto the Red Tier, Schools Start Distance Learning
July 2020 was a tough month for San Diego in the fight against the novel coronavirus, but August 2020 brought better days. The county made significant progress on its case rate, working its way off the state's COVID-19 monitoring list and paving the way for another round of reopenings.
As August 2020 began, county public health officials said numbers were looking better. If the county could keep its case rate below 100 cases per 100,000 residents for three straight days, then San Diego County would be taken off California's watch list. On Aug. 18, 2020, that happened.
Then, another countdown was on: a 14-day stretch where the case rate would need to remain below 100 in order for permission to be granted for schools to reopen in person. If that happened through Aug. 31, 2020, then K-12 schools could reopen for in-person instruction by Sept. 1, 2020. Of course, districts would have the final say on when and how their physical campuses would reopen.
The 2020-2021 school year began for many local districts in mid and late August, and all began in distance learning mode. San Diego Unified School District started its school year on Aug. 31, 2020.
After San Diego County made its way off the watch list, businesses like restaurants, gyms, and salons waited anxiously for reopening guidance from the state.
On Aug. 28, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new blueprint for reopening California's businesses. His new plan involved a color-coded, 4-tier system that would categorize counties depending on case rate and positivity rate. Under this plan, San Diego County started off in the red tier at the end of August 2020.
Here's a closer look, day by day, at what happened in August 2020 in San Diego County during the COVID-19 crisis.
September 2020: Life in the Red Tier, Outbreaks at San Diego State University
As the summer ended and fall began, the coronavirus pandemic continued in San Diego County. Locals learned to live life in the "red tier," while COVID-19 outbreaks at San Diego State University drove up the case count, getting us close to crossing into the dreaded "purple tier."
Here's a recap of what happened in San Diego during the pandemic in September 2020.
October 2020: San Diego County Almost Falls Into Purple Tier
As we dove deeper into the fall 2020 season, the coronavirus pandemic continued to impact every part of life in San Diego County. Locals had yet another scare of nearly shifting the county into the most restrictive purple tier but ultimately, the region remained in the red tier.
Here's a recap of what happened in San Diego during the pandemic in October 2020.
November 2020: The Purple Tier and the Surge
November 2020 was a month of surges and subsequent setbacks for San Diego County as the coronavirus pandemic wore on.
Locals experienced Election Day 2020, pandemic style, which meant lots of mail-in ballots and much quieter polling places. A surge in COVID-19 cases sent San Diego from the red into the purple tier in California’s color-coded system for the safe reopening of communities.
A record number of daily cases in the county was a sobering reminder that the pandemic was far from over. Thanksgiving came and went, and the celebrations were much different.
Here’s a look back at what happened in November 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic in San Diego County.
December 2020: New Stay-at-Home Order, the Coronavirus Vaccine Arrives in San Diego County
A new stay-at-home order due to dwindling capacity in Southern California's ICUs. A lawsuit that -- for a minute -- shook everything up for San Diego restaurants. The arrival of the coronavirus vaccine. A holiday season stranger than ever.
Here's a look back at what happened in December 2020 in San Diego County as the coronavirus pandemic raged on.
The continued, slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. New initiatives for COVID-19 equity in hard-hit zones. The lifting of the regional stay-at-home order. Much like the many months prior, January 2021 was an eventful one for life amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Here's a look back at what happened in January 2021 in San Diego County.
February 2021: Vaccine Delays and the Anniversary We Never Wanted
Vaccination delays hit San Diego County hard in February as the region ushered in the anniversary we never wanted to see: one year since the coronavirus pandemic began impacting every part of our lives.
Here's a look back at what happened in February 2021 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic.
NBC 7 continues to track day-to-day developments of the coronavirus pandemic in San Diego County here.