BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody today (Nov. 15) told the Palo Alto Rotary Club that she’s had protesters outside her window for nearly two years, and she’s “distressed” by the erosion of trust in local government that’s occurred during the pandemic.
Cody told the club during its lunchtime meeting held via Zoom that she’s been “sobered” by her experience during Covid. She’s had protesters outside her office for the length of the pandemic. Last year, a Gilroy math teacher was arrested for sending threatening letters to Cody.
Cody said she’s not alone in receiving vitriol, as most of her colleagues around the state and country have also experienced similar lash back.
Cody said there is a “very vocal group” that’s for the most part in the minority, but are the “loud and disruptive voice of anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-testing, anti-contact tracing, who are just very angry.”
“I am distressed by this decay in public institutions and public government,” Cody said. “My sense of things is that we may be less well prepared for the next pandemic, unfortunately, because of the erosion that’s occurred during this pandemic.”
Cody is also worried about the health care workforce if there is another pandemic.
As for the current pandemic, Cody also said she doesn’t see Covid going away anytime soon, with boosters continuing in the future.
“I see us probably transitioning to living with Covid in the way we live with the flu,” Cody said. The problem there is that Covid and some of its strains can be harder to contain and wreak more havoc when there are outbreaks.
Rotary president Khashayar Alaee asked Cody about the “buy-in” she needed to get from county officials to declare the country’s first stay-at-home order in March 2020.
Cody pointed out that at the time, things were changing fast and the county had some of the first cases in the country. The county’s first case was reported on Jan. 31, 2020, and the first death occurred on Feb. 6. The county discovered the Feb. 6 death in April, which made that woman the first Covid-related death in the country.
There was no testing until the end of February 2020, so as that month went on, she and other health departments couldn’t make any decisions because there was no data. But once testing began, it was proven that Covid was more widespread than other counties.
It was also thought at the time that like flu transmissions, children would be the primary carriers into the home, leading to schools being shut down.
Another issue at the time was a lack of guidance from state and federal leaders, Cody said.
So using the power given to her by the state legislature, she called for a shutdown.
Although Santa Clara County was the first to go into a shutdown, it has still seen the highest death rate per capita of Covid.
A total of 1,901 Santa Clara County residents have died due to the virus, according to state Department of Public Health records, or 96.6 per 100,000. Santa Clara County was also often the first county to initiate various lock-downs and ordinances related to the pandemic. At one point, the county advised workplaces to have employees eat in their cars instead of the lunchroom.