Fifteen months ago, Santa Clara County Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody, led the Bay Area in ordering a shelter-in-place - the first of its kind in the country.
RELATED: Dr. Cody reflects on tough decisions during COVID-19, response to pandemic
"We believe these actions are necessary to protect the well-being of our community during one of the most historic public health challenges of our time," said Dr. Cody on March 31, 2020.
Tuesday, Dr. Cody reflected back on the first months of the pandemic.
"We were having to move extremely fast and we were having to be front and center," which Cody explained was an unusual position to be in for a county health officer.
On January 31, 2020 Santa Clara County reported the first coronavirus case in the Bay Area. Months later Cody announced the first COVID-19 death in the U.S., which happened in February, 2020, was also in Santa Clara County.
VIDEO: Dr. Sara Cody honored for work managing COVID-19 in Santa Clara County
"In some ways I wasn't surprised at all. In fact, I was expecting that we would likely see some of the first cases," she said.
That's because Cody, an epidemiologist, was working at Santa Clara County's health department during the 2003 SARS outbreak, and knew travel patterns from Asia to the South Bay would bring coronavirus to the region.
On March 16, 2020 she set the pace for the pandemic response in the Bay Area and beyond, by ordering a shelter in place.
Kate Larsen: "What did that feel like, to be the person making that decision?"
Dr. Sara Cody: "Well, I have a pretty calm temperament, that was helpful. And I've never flown an airplane, but I imagine this must be a little it like what a pilot feels when an engine cuts out, or there's a lot of trouble, and you have to do your best. You have to make decisions quickly and you have to make them carefully, and you have to land the plane safely and so I think I was sort of in a mode like that."
When asked how she concluded a lockdown was the best course, Cody said it was a quick and measured decision.
"When I thought it through with my fellow health officers, we did understand that if we waited a few days we would have all the same social and economic harms and not nearly the benefit," she said. "In other words, if we're going to make the decision to act, we should just do it as fast as we could."
Kate Larsen: "Dr. Cody, as California reopens today, do you feel like you landed the plane safely?"
Dr. Sara Cody: "I do. I think it was a very, very, very bumpy landing. The interior of the plane is not as pristine as we like, but I think that we have made a safe landing."
Cody says she feels much safer now with Santa Clara County's high vaccination rates, but says, "we're not out of the woods yet." She plans to continue her work at Santa Clara County's Department of Public Health and encourage more people to get the COVID vaccinated.
Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Map shows which counties can, can't reopen under reopening tiers
- Cheat sheet: What you can and can't do after being fully vaccinated
- How to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in every Bay Area county
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- Interactive map shows what's closed and what's reopening in the San Francisco Bay Area
- Data tracker: Coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations in every Bay Area county
- Third stimulus check calculator: See how much you could get
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
- Get the latest updates on California EDD, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic