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A Year After COVID Lockdown South Bay Health Officials Reflect On Costs, Challenges

SAN JOSE (KPIX) - A year ago, public health officials faced historic challenges when they ordered a Bay Area-wide lockdown because the novel coronavirus had begun to sicken people at an alarming rate.

"We had very little information. But the information that we did have was pretty terrifying to be honest. Everywhere we looked we started to find the virus. And we also knew that we didn't have any other tools available.," says Dr. Sara Cody, the Chief Health Officer for Santa Clara County.

The lockdown was designed to limit interaction between people, slow the spread and ultimately save lives. At the time, the unprecedented stay-at-home orders were envisioned as a temporary measure to give the healthcare system time to catch up to the newly emergent virus.

A year later, Dr. Cody acknowledges that while the lockdown saved lives it also did great harm to people's livelihoods -- their jobs and businesses. Some business owners have been sharply critical of the lockdown, claiming the cure has been worse than the decision. Dr. Cody defends the decision.

"What people say to me again and again and again is, 'If I lose my business, I can eventually rebuild and get it back. But if I lose my life or a family member dies, that's it," says Dr. Cody.

Dr. Cody says the rollout of the vaccine will prevent countless deaths and eventually allow us to lift the last vestiges of the lockdown -- if the county receives a steady, adequate supply of the vaccine.

"We need more vaccine. We need to shout it from the rooftop. We have the capacity. We have the people who want the vaccine. We do not have the supply," Dr. Cody said.

Dr. Cody and Santa Clara County Chief Executive Jeff Smith have been deeply critical of the state's plan to turn over control of the vaccine rollout to Blue Shield.

Santa Clara County has nearly halted offering appointments to new patients because of a sever shortage of the vaccine, prioritizing second shots with its limited supply. The county has opted out of the Blue Shield distribution plan, leading some to wonder if the recent shortages might be political payback.

"It's still very unclear who's making the decisions and why. We're left to stand here with vacant appointments, waiting for vaccine. So, it seems quite frustrating at this point," say Dr. Smith.


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