After a record 118 consecutive months of economic expansion, 2020 opened in California with the highest of hopes. “By any standard measure, by nearly every recognizable metric, the state of California is not just thriving but, in many instances, leading the country, inventing the future, and inspiring the nation,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his State of the State speech on Feb. 19.
Nineteen days later, with three deaths and 55 cases of COVID-19 reported in California, he declared a state of emergency. Shutdowns ended 2.6 million jobs in about two months and quadrupled the state’s historic low unemployment. In all, the state would record about 2 million cases of the virus and more than 22,000 deaths in 2020.
CalMatters expert journalists around the state spent that unforgettable year reading reports, following bills and talking to elected leaders, advocates, experts and those experiencing the problems and changes to life in California. In these pages we collect what we have learned and summarize California’s major developments in the tumultuous and historic year of 2020 and look at what’s ahead.