One year after lockdown, Dr. Cody says health orders saved lives
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Bay Area residents experienced unprecedented change the past 12 months. The county health officer has been at the forefront, hoping to protect the populous and limit COVID-19’s spread.
"I could never, ever, have imagined the devastation in the United States," said Dr. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County public health officer.
If a difficult year can age you, Cody doesn’t show it. Masked up, and managing a slight laugh as she looks back on the year that was 2020, she is unapologetic as she sits at a back patio of the county office building. She is resolute in her belief the county’s COVID-19 health orders saved lives.
"In hindsight, many of the decisions we made I think we would make again, and again, and again," she said.
One year ago, Cody was the first to order limitations on indoor gatherings due to the burgeoning coronavirus.
Shortly thereafter, she and five other Bay Area health officers issued the nation’s first shelter-in-place health regulation.
"We are balancing the public health need to slow the spread of infection, with the significant impact we know these actions will have," she said at a news conference announcing the order on Mar. 13, 2020, her voice cracking with emotion.
The response included protests, and even death threats against Cody and a handful of other public health officers.
"Things have settled down, which is nice," she said Tuesday, when asked if the threats of violence still continue.
What hasn’t eased is the white-hot political divide over whether extreme measures were really needed to combat the virus.
"In California the cure hasn’t just been worse than the disease, but it’s made the disease worse," said Asm. Kevin Kiley, (R) 6th Dist./Granite Bay. Countered University of New Haven bioengineer Dr. Kagya Amoako, "It could have been worse. If the measures that were taken were not implemented, we may have seen a larger toll in terms of how many deaths."
As Santa Clara County continues to climb in the state’s COVID tier rankings, Cody said never again can race and income become factors in who gets sick, and who is more likely to die from a disease.
"That’s something all of us collectively need to stare down," Cody said. "I feel in many ways, like I’m the doctor for everyone who lives in my county. And that it’s my job to protect people and take care of them."
Dr. Cody said the government, the private sector, and community partners must join forces to accomplish that goal. To do that, the public health infrastructure needs to be improved at the national, state, and local levels.