Last Thursday evening, nearly two years to the day since COVID-19 arrived in San Diego, City Council members together with the mayor, hospital representatives, fire-rescue and community members gathered at Balboa Park to honor and celebrate the contributions of health care workers throughout the pandemic.
The ceremony kicked off with remarks from Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, who led the crowd in a brief countdown to 6:30 p.m., at which time a one-minute standing ovation was given to health care heroes. In a press release announcing the ceremony, Elo-Rivera said, “At the beginning of the pandemic, people opened their windows, banged pots and pans and clapped for doctors, nurses, and other health care workers as they treated people for this new disease that was taking so many lives around the world. We have been through a lot as a city these last two years, and this month we’re reviving that spirit of appreciation and gratitude.”
It was — if just for a short time — a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come since March 2020. After a relentless two years of surge after surge, coupled with staffing challenges, testing and PPE shortages, and more death and suffering than anyone should ever witness, we have finally reached the point where many of us can shed our masks and we can gather again — and we couldn’t have done it without our health care workers.
At the ceremony, I had a chance to address the crowd and look back on how the past two years have tested our collective human spirit in ways none of us could ever have imagined. Yet through it all, our health care heroes never wavered — the efforts of our dedicated individuals who work in our hospitals and health care facilities, together with our first responders, have been nothing less than heroic in the fight against COVID-19.
For these reasons, in addition to the ceremony and the standing ovation, the San Diego City Council issued a proclamation declaring March 22 “Healthcare Heroes Month” — recognizing the heroic efforts of all our health care heroes — both those who are easily seen and those who keep hospitals running in the background.
Because now, just as much as then, our health care heroes — not just in the city but throughout San Diego and Imperial counties — deserve a round of applause for their dedication, compassion and lifesaving efforts throughout the pandemic.