San Francisco leaders say pandemic’s end in sight

Wednesday marked one year since counties around the Bay Area were into lockdown at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. San Francisco's leaders reflected on the start of the pandemic and touched on what lies ahead.

When the region first went into lockdown, many thought it would only go on for a matter of weeks. Now a year later, the Bay Area is finally looking at what could be the end of the pandemic.

By any account, the last year has been challenging. 

"It has been a year that has moved by so quickly, and yet felt like an eternity," said Mary Ellen Carroll from San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management.

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San Francisco leaders said the shutdown was necessary to save lives. "I know today's order is a radical step," said Dr. Grant Colfax from San Francisco's Department of Public Health back on March 16, 2020. "It has to be."

Carroll reflected on the day the city went quiet. "Outside the streets were empty, and it was like every person, bicycle and car had just disappeared," she said.

The normally busy streets in the city's Financial District were eerily empty one year ago. Now that scene is changing, with more than 236,000 vaccine doses administered.

Mayor London Breed paused to remember the nearly 450 people who have died from COVID in the city and the sacrifices that everyone has had to endure. Breed said she's looking ahead to the future.

"I feel good because I see the city coming alive again," Breed said. "So as we begin to reopen one year later, let's just remember. Remember all we sacrificed and let's appreciate all, all that life will bring us in the future as we come out of this pandemic."

Breed pointed out that in a year, the city has administered 1.6 million COVID tests, housed 10,000 San Franciscans in hotels, and provided more than 12 million meals and grocery bags to those in need.

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The city's director of public health warns that even though the city and county are close to emerging from the pandemic, now is not the time to let up and revert to behaviors that led to an influx in cases. 

"Remember, mask on, stay strong and get the vaccine when you're eligible," said Colfax.

As more vaccines are distributed, there is a lot of reason for optimism.