December 30, 2020
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For many people, 2020 was one of the longest years of all time.
South Bay residents were grappling with a deadly pandemic that worsened as the year worsened, with the economic and social fallout from measures to contain the disease, unrest in the streets and devastating smoke in the sky.
There was no shortage of news. The San José Spotlight team rushed from frequent briefings by county health officials, visited businesses struggling to keep doors open, and recorded the struggle of the homeless in the area – all in one year of historic national elections.
And the readers followed. The following stories were our top 10 most read of 2020.
December 4th: Nine months after the first COVID-19 shutdown in Santa Clara County, Bay Area health officials have declined Governor Gavin Newsom’s shutdown orders with a separate order. In response to the recent surge, they issued a stay at home order. With the order, all hairdressers, nail salons, personal care services, cinemas, museums, bars and wineries were closed, while retail capacity was limited to 20%. With many small businesses in the Bay Area continuing to grapple with changing restrictions, it has been the most recent blow to their financial security and, for some, to their trust in local and state authorities. The shutdown will last at least until January 4th.
Santa Clara County switches to COVID-19 Purple Tier – most restrictive
November 16: When Santa Clara County counted nearly 400 new COVID-19 cases daily, it fell back into California’s most restrictive purple level. With local hospital stays steadily increasing, it was part of the deadliest surge the county and state had seen since the pandemic began.
The newest Santa Clara County’s Health Code went into effect. The following is new.
May 22: More than two months after the pandemic, health officials were still struggling to learn how to contain the virus. Many local residents had questions about which shops would be open and which would be closed, and whether masks would be required in public places. Until May, public transport operators required face covers, but not necessarily masks – although masks were “highly recommended” at the time. The health officer Dr. Sara Cody also noted for the first but not the last time that the county had made progress in fighting the virus. She warned the county of relapse if the reopening came too quickly.
Santa Clara County officials criticized the introduction of the latest shelter-in-place order
8th June: When health officials took control of openings and closings during the pandemic, a move in June to allow companies to reopen surprised many executives – and angered them. Santa Clara County had been under some of the strictest health measures in the country since March, and patience was starting to wane in some places. Some local leaders said they didn’t take enough notice to advise businesses. At the time, leaders also didn’t know that similar closings and reopenings would exist for the next six months and beyond.
Access v. Abuse Crema Coffee is closing in San Jose due to an ADA lawsuit
Crema Coffee owner June Tran stands in front of her former café. After 13 years, the cult business was closed due to a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. File photo.
January 26th: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Disability Act. The ADA was established in 1990 and prohibits discrimination based on disability in employment, transport, government programs, and in public places. San José Spotlight investigated the effects of the law in Silicon Valley, including on companies like Crema Coffee, which closed following litigation over ADA access.
The popular San Jose hangout spot has closed because owners said they couldn’t afford to clear the case, one of more than 1,400 filed by local attorney Tanya Moore in recent years. Crema Coffee eventually consolidated and moved to Pier 402 on Race Street.
Comcast to provide technology and education to tiny San Jose residents
The 80-square-meter “tiny houses” on Mabury Road in San Jose temporarily housed homeless residents trying to secure permanent housing. File photo.
March 11: San Jose opened its first tiny hometown community with 40 units designed to help get unhodged people off the streets. However, many of these people also needed work. Comcast has met this need with an Internet access and digital training program.
Coronavirus: Santa Clara County is lifting some home stay restrictions
April 29th: Readers were keen to see changes to COVID-19 restrictions. When the first stay at home order was canceled in April, the construction, childcare, outdoor and real estate industries were the first to breathe a sigh of relief. While many continued to work from home, outdoor activities on golf courses, athletic fields, and skate parks have reopened with strict social distancing guidelines.
Construction projects that had stalled in April were resumed. Previously, the region’s contracts had closed all construction sites except those with at least 10 percent affordable housing, public works, or those that increase or maintain the capacity of accommodation and hospitals. Construction began on May 4th under the new orders.
Newsom loosens order at home as hospital stays stabilize
April 22nd: After the initial COVID-19 shutdowns, the governor’s relaxation of the stay at home orders was a welcome relief. Hospitals could start elective surgery, Newsom said, so that other health needs can be met. At the time of this article, California only had about 35,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Now there were just under 2 million cumulative cases and nearly 23,000 deaths attributable to COVID-19.
Cannabis stores in South Bay can no longer sell marijuana under new orders
April 1st: Weeks after the pandemic, public health officials sought to provide concise and informed guidance to business owners on how to flatten the curve. However, officials encountered some bumps while trying to create a guide on marijuana. Initially, stores were open to both recreational and medical customers. Then officials said only medicinal users could buy cannabis. These changing restrictions angered and confused many business owners in the industry.
“Every single window was smashed:” Asian-owned companies in San Jose were targeted
April 23: Businesses suffered from order interruptions as early as March and April, which sometimes cut sales by half. But several Asian-owned companies were also the subject of vandalism in the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose, despite police said there was no evidence of any hate crimes.
However, the vandalism occurred during increasing coronavirus discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in South Bay. This prompted the Asian-American Pacific Islanders Civil Rights Center to open a portal in March allowing victims to report discrimination. You received more than 1,000 reports from across the country in the first two weeks.
Contact Madelyn Reese at [email protected] and follow her @MadelynGReese