From HIP’s perspective, a HERO is anyone who stands up, speaks out, and takes wise and effective action when faced with a challenging situation.
Dr. Sara Cody has served as the County Health Officer of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department since 2013. She oversees 450 staff that in turn lead more than 30 programs dedicated to the prevention of disease and the promotion of health and equity for nearly 2 million county residents.
Dr. Cody took an extraordinary public action on March 16, 2020, with respect to the coronavirus. She led her Bay Area cohorts to mandate an historic 7-county legal order – the first of its kind in the nation – that required all Bay Area residents to shelter in place (SIP) and to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet apart. She also proposed banning all mass gatherings that involved more than 100 people. This directive occurred several days before California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a similar mandate for the entire state. The positive result of those public orders has been a much lower rate of virus infections and deaths in the Bay Area, compared to other parts of the country. Since then, Dr. Cody and her colleagues have been continuing to track down new evidence about the coronavirus, and have discovered that the first death from coronavirus in the Bay Area occurred at the beginning of February 2020, earlier than anyone had known, which has led to new understanding about when and how the virus landed in the United States. She continues to give public updates about the coronavirus pandemic and has warned that the country will be dealing with this public health crisis for a long time.
Dr. Cody’s prescience and public action are credited with saving an untold number of lives in the Bay Area and beyond. We thus honor her as our outstanding HIP Hero of the Year.