One-on-One with Santa Clara County’s Sara Cody and Michelle Mello: Reflections on Confronting COVID-19

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 discusses 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 was joined 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. The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society is committed to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems through research, teaching, and engagement. Visit the Center’s website for more information: