One year later: San Francisco health director discusses COVID-19, optimistic about future

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- March 6, 2020 marks one year since the first major news conference about COVID-19 in San Francisco. The city's Director of Public Health, Dr. Grant Colfax, announced there were two known coronavirus cases in San Francisco at the time. He also spoke about social distancing; it was one of the first times many had ever heard of the concept.

Dr. Colfax caught up with ABC7 News anchor Jobina Fortson to reflect on the past year. He watched a clip of the March 6 press conference and immediately responded by acknowledging the lives lost to the deadly disease.

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"It has been such a challenging year," Dr. Colfax replied. "I think at that time while we were taking aggressive action and very concerned, it was still unfathomable to so many of us that we would be sitting here a year later with over half a million people in this country alone having died from COVID-19. Unfortunately, that includes 420 San Franciscans who have perished from COVID-19."

Dr. Colfax went on to highlight the early actions of San Francisco. Safety protocols implemented early on by the city undoubtedly saved lives. The understanding of the virus has dramatically evolved as well. Mask wearing and social distancing are now a part of everyday life.

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"If you would have told me a year ago, we would have three incredibly effective and safe vaccines now, I would have thought it was science fiction," Dr. Colfax continued. "I think it's incredible how we've advanced in that way. The vaccines may need to be adjusted and evolve as variants come in right? But we have the technology to potentially do that. I'm much more optimistic than I was just a few months ago. That day that I woke up and read the news about that first vaccine study was...I'm getting goosebumps now because it's such a game-changer."

Dr. Colfax has been inspired by the compassion and resilience he's seen over the last year. He would not say exactly when it would be safe to be maskless or when life will return to "normal." However, he does believe positive changes are ahead as more people continue to get vaccinated.

"I am hopeful that we will be in a much better place a year from now."

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