What a long four years it’s been.

It was March 4, 2020, when Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to respond to the novel coronavirus.

Fifty people in California had tested positive for the virus by then, and one death had been reported in the state. Schools and businesses remained open at first; most people had never heard of a stay-at-home order. That would not be announced for another two weeks.

Today, Covid hasn’t gone away, and the highly contagious virus continues to circulate and occasionally surge. And the toll has been horrifying: Some 112,000 Californians have died of Covid. Nationwide, the virus has killed 1.18 million people. At the peak of the recent surge in January, 2,400 people were dying of the disease each week.

As many experts predicted back in the spring of 2020, Covid has become something that people have had to learn to live with. The virus still seems to crest in the summer and winter, but layers of protection from vaccines, previous infections and antiviral treatments have made hospitalization and death much less likely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 98 percent of people aged 16 and older had Covid antibodies in the second half of 2023, compared with 21 percent in January 2021.

Covid killed roughly 75,000 people in the country last year, when it was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It was even worse in 2021, when the virus killed 450,000 people and was the third leading cause of death.


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