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The Inside Story Of How The Bay Area Got Ahead Of The COVID-19 Crisis

Sunday was supposed to be a rare day off for Dr. Tomás Aragón after weeks of working around-the-clock.

Instead, the San Francisco public health officer was jolted awake by an urgent 7:39 a.m. text message from his boss.

“Can you set up a call with San Mateo and Santa Clara health officers this a.m., so we can discuss us all getting on the same page this week with aggressive actions, thanks,” said the message from Dr. Grant Colfax, director of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health.

“Will do, getting up now,” Aragón responded.

It was March 15, two days before St. Patrick’s Day, a heavy partying holiday and nightmare scenario for public health officials.

The novel coronavirus was spreading stealthily across the San Francisco Bay Area and public health officials were alarmed by the explosion of deaths in Italy and elsewhere around

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