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No. 43: Capitol Weekly’s Top 100

Illustration by Chris Shary for Capitol Weekly.

43.  Sara Cody

On January 23, 2020, three days after the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the U.S., Santa Clara County public health officer Dr. Sara Cody established a coronavirus incident command center – three days later, the CDC confirmed the first COVID-19 case in California. The disease seemed to spread slowly – at first – but harrowing reports from Italy and other hotspots led public health experts to prepare for the worst. By March 3, the rate of transmission in the Bay Area had made contact tracing nearly impossible and Cody recognized that aggressive actions needed to be taken to slow the spread of the virus. She issued guidelines recommending cancellation of public gatherings and convinced her colleagues of the urgency of the situation. On March 16, medical officers in seven Bay Area counties followed Cody’s guidance and announced the first shelter-in-place order in the United States. Gov. Newsom followed suit with a statewide mandate three days later. While it is impossible to know the full impact of Dr. Cody’s efforts, her decisive action undoubtedly saved lives and set the standard for all jurisdictions in the state.


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