One-on-One with Santa Clara County's Sara Cody: Reflections on Confronting COVID-19

Thu June 24th 2021, 4:00 - 5:15pm
Event Sponsor
McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society
Virtual Event

Sara H. Cody, MD is the public health officer and director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department. On March 16 2020, Cody and her San Francisco Bay Area Health Officer colleagues simultaneously issued the nation’s first shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now, a year later, she reflects on the tough decisions she made during the pandemic and the personal repercussions that followed. Cody will discuss ethical dilemmas she faced and how she learned to navigate the extraordinary amount of power entrusted to local health officers during these challenging times. Cody will be in conversation with Stanford Professor of Law and Medicine Michelle Mello.

This talk is part of the Center's Arrow Lecture Series on Ethics and Leadership. The series honors the late Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow, the Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and Professor of Operations Research, Emeritus. 

Dr. Sara Cody joined the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department over 20 years ago and currently serves as both Health Officer and Director of the Public Health Department. In her dual roles, she oversees more than 30 programs dedicated to providing services that prevent disease and promote health and equity for nearly two million county residents. She leads the department in providing services, assessing and reporting on community health, and working on policy and strategic planning. She was at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and, with her Bay Area health officer colleagues, ordered the first Shelter in Place in the country in March 2020.

Since January 2020, she has been singularly focused on the COVID-19 response and more recently, addressing barriers to COVID-19 vaccination. She is the immediate past Chair of the Big Cities Health Coalition, which represents health leaders from the 30 largest cities in the country, who collectively serve 1 in 5 Americans. Prior to joining the county, Dr. Cody completed a postdoctoral fellowship as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She graduated from Yale School of Medicine, followed by a residency in internal medicine at Stanford Hospital. Born and raised in the County, she received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.