California goes from COVID-19 success story to cautionary tale

California was once a coronavirus success story, a national example of how other states could battle the virus and win.

The most populous state in the country was the first to issue a stay-at-home order, and rapidly built up a robust contact-tracing operation. While the virus was devastating hot spots on the East Coast, California managed to dodge a major catastrophe.

In the spring, as other states began lifting their stay-at-home orders, Gov.