San Francisco city leaders praised health care, emergency service and other essential workers on Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of when Bay Area health officials ordered people to shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a ceremony outside of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Mayor London Breed joined Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax, hospital staff and other city officials to celebrate how far the city has come since the first stay-home order commenced.

Over the course of the pandemic, the city, as well as the entire Bay Area, changed significantly as schools closed, businesses shuttered and residents of all incomes faced both financial and health challenges, with low-income communities and communities of color facing some the most difficult disparities.

Although the city has lost 448 San Franciscans to the virus, the city’s COVID-19 death rate remains low compared to other major U.S. cities.

Since the first doses of the vaccine were first distributed in the city back in December, so far, about 34 percent of residents over the age of 16 have been vaccinated.

“I know it’s been hard, but there is hope for a better future, because out of those ashes, we will emerge stronger; we will emerge better as a city because we stand in solidarity with one another, getting through this crisis,” Breed said.

“When the mayor first asked me when there would be a vaccine for this, I said it would be a long time. And I was wrong, and I’m so glad I was wrong,” Colfax said. “So much of our progress is owed to the incredible people of this magnificent city. Just like in the early days of HIV and AIDS, its San Francisco’s spirit of innovation, its compassion, and its refusal not to stand idle when the federal government failed in its leadership made so much of a difference. Our COVID death rate is among the lowest in the nation and I could not be more proud.”

Despite several surges over the past year, the city has made progress in reducing the spread of the virus within the last few months. Earlier this month, the city entered the red tier of the state’s reopening system, allowing for several businesses and activities to reopen, including indoor dining, indoor gyms, indoor museums and movie theaters.

City officials have predicted the city could move to the state’s orange tier next week, which would allow for more businesses to reopen and capacities at places like restaurants and gyms would expand.

More information about the city’s reopenings can be found at www.sf.gov/reopening.