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This is not a permanent state” Gov. Gavin Newsom told Californians on March 19, 2020, the day he issued the first stay-at-home order of the coronavirus pandemic.

Two years later, Californians are in a different state of mind, but it’s hard to define what “normal” will look like as the state enters year three.

Last year, the Golden State was beginning to emerge from what felt like suspended animation with the advent of vaccines.

This year, the state is in what Newsom said would be “a moment in time.”

Last March, Patch last spoke to Dr. Kimberly Shriner, an infectious disease specialist at Huntington Hospital at a time when officials were racing to inoculate residents amid an unpredictable and swiftly mutating virus.

Find out what’s happening in Los Angeleswith free, real-time updates from Patch.

We’re not at the beginning of the end,” Shriner said then. “But, as [Winston] Churchill would say, ‘We are maybe at the end of the beginning.'”

When we followed up with her recently, Shriner told Patch, “I guess to stick with the Churchillian analogy — maybe we’re getting ready to storm the beaches of Normandy.”

By this, she meant face a future with the coronavirus, though it likely won’t look like lockdowns and social distancing.

Since the World Health Organization first declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, more than 6 million people have died around the world. In California, 86,927 people have died.

Nearly 1 million people in the U.S. lost their jobs, and students endured three years of school disruptions and extended mask mandates.

But the situation is improving. On Wednesday, the Golden State reported a 1.4 percent positivity rate — down from 8.8 percent on Feb. 8.

Hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 have plummeted 80 percent in the last two months across the U.S. since a mid-January pandemic peak, dropping to the lowest levels since July 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’ve learned many, many good things, but it’s been [at] a terrible cost,” Shriner said.

“And the 6 million people around the world dead from COVID is a huge underestimate,” she added. “It’s probably in the tens of tens of millions, if not even higher. There’s just so many deaths that we don’t know about that have happened.

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