We saw quickly how California's lockdown brought the economy to a grinding halt. Stores and restaurants closed. Jobs were wiped, too. Could a repeat be in the works if the looming wave of Delta variant infections continues to build?
RELATED: Highly contagious Delta variant now makes up 83% of US COVID cases, CDC says
"I think that this would possibly be the nail in the coffin for many of them," said Patrick Kallerman, research director at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. He's hoping a push to boost vaccinations will help.
However, another economic slowdown is threatening millions of struggling families. A new study by United Ways of California claims one in three families are unable to meet basic needs. That includes 1.7 million Latino households and 1 million White households. In central and eastern parts of San Jose, the percentage is 58 percent unable to pay rent, buy food and meet other needs.
"When we look at an equity lens, when we look at those who are most on the margins, I fear they will be most impacted by an economic downturn from any sort of further changes to how we operate," said Ahmad Thomas, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
RELATED: Experts say CA's economy won't recover until 2024, but 1 Bay Area city may bounce back sooner
Even well-off families could struggle to find toilet paper and other goods if hoarding resurfaces or supply chains are disrupted.
WATCH: EXCLUSIVE: Lab discovers root cause of confusion, fatigue experienced by COVID 'long haulers'
"The people that are in charge have to really talk to the community," said Jamie Kearns, a Vallejo math teacher for 20 years. "We can't make these decisions without really going to the people, and so I think that communication is a real big missing piece."
Kearns is also a mother of three who has had her own challenges trying to buy a home and keep up with mortgage payments on a teacher's salary. Her husband is an electrician. She's worried for her students and a new round of restrictions that could bring back distancing learning and leave some students behind.
"We all have good heads on our shoulders, but it's going to take all of us to think outside the box and figure this out for the kids and for ourselves because we deserve it," she said.
RELATED: As Delta variant turns into dominant strain in California, scientists detect 'Delta plus'
While there's dread looming on the horizon, business leaders are focused on this.
"We want to stay open," said the Leadership Group's Thomas.