A look back: How COVID-19 changed Sonoma County in one year
When it arrived in California, the coronavirus changed near every aspect of our daily existence. Home, work and school life, consumer habits, civic spaces and social activities were all inconceivably altered by efforts to constrain the spread of the frightening and mysterious new disease.
The fallout was disparate, revealing stark inequities and fostering deep divisions across the nation, even as the response drew on some of our best instincts to help and protect others.
In Sonoma County, residents hardened by wildfires, flooding, power shutdowns and evacuations braced for a renewed period of discomfort and uncertainty amid a transformation that unfolded in almost unimaginable scope and speed.
Here is a timeline chronicling how the past year unfolded:
March 2, 2020: A Sonoma County resident who recently returned from a cruise on the Grand Princess to Mexico is the first local person to test positive for the new coronavirus, prompting county officials to declare a local public health emergency. A second passenger from the cruise living locally would later test positive for the virus.
March 11: The World Health Organization declares the coronavirus a global pandemic. President Donald Trump suspends most travel from continental Europe to the United States during an address from the White House. Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer, advises canceling or postponing gatherings for two weeks.
March 12: Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College suspend classes. The stock market posts its worst one-day loss since 1987, with the S&P 500 losing 9.5% of its value.
March 13: President Trump declares a national emergency and announces he will free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat coronavirus. Mase bans family visits to senior care facilities and public gatherings with more than 250 people.
March 14: Sonoma County reports its first case of coronavirus not linked to a cruise ship or travel to China. Sonoma County’s Department of Health Services and the county Office of Education recommend canceling classes for two weeks. Public school districts in Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sonoma and Healdsburg announce they will not resume in-person classes after spring break.
March 17: Mase orders county residents to stay home and limits all but essential business and government operations. The mandatory and unprecedented directive goes into effect March 18.
March 19: Gov. Gavin Newsom orders all 40 million Californians to stay home indefinitely and venture outside only for essential jobs, errands and exercise.
March 20: Sonoma County marks its first known death from the coronavirus.
March 23: All parks in Sonoma County are closed to the public. The order includes all city, county, state and federal parks, and comes as health officials try to stem public gatherings.
March 30: With coronavirus cases rising, the county moves to extend the shelter-in-place order through May 1 to follow what the state is suggesting.
March 31: Veteran Santa Rosa police detective Marylou Armer dies from complications caused by the coronavirus. Armer, 43, lived in Napa County and had served in the Santa Rosa Police Department for more than 20 years.
April 1: All of Sonoma County's colleges and public schools cancel in-person classes through the rest of the school year, shifting entirely to online instruction.
April 2: Capt. Brett Crozier, a Santa Rosa native, is removed as captain of the stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. The move comes days after Crozier implored his superior officers for more help as a coronavirus outbreak spread aboard the ship.
April 13: Sonoma County requires the use of face coverings in public and indoors outside of home, effective April 17.
April 26: Sonoma County tests 450 health care workers for the coronavirus in Santa Rosa via its new drive-thru program. Work begins to house at-risk homeless people in Sonoma State University student housing and prepare surge space in the campus gymnasium.