Launched the day the national COVID emergency was lifted, the multimedia project chronicles the experiences of health care workers during the pandemic’s toughest days.

Originally published on The Oaklandside.

Anh Ho, an EKG technician at the Wilma Chan Highland Hospital Campus in East Oakland, has not forgotten what it felt like to contract COVID-19 for the first time. She was at work when she began feeling overwhelmed by the virus. “I remember my whole body was aching. It felt like something biting your bones,” Ho said in a video interview with Alameda Health System staff. One of her first thoughts was for the safety of her colleagues. “I said, ‘I’m not worried if I’m sick or not, I’m worried about the co-workers.’”

Ho’s experience, along with other AHS staff, is documented in the COVID-19 Memory Archive, a new oral history project curated by the AHS public affairs and community engagement team.

The archive is a collection of short videos, audio recordings, and photo essays that provide an intimate glimpse into what physicians, nurses, administrators, telephone operators, chaplains, and others frontline workers across the county’s public health care system went through during some of the hardest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global spread of COVID-19 in early 2020 resulted in six Bay Area counties declaring a shelter-in-place order in March. California’s COVID state of emergency, which started that same month, officially ended this past February.

The release of the archive coincides with the end of the federal COVID public health emergency order. The pandemic remains ongoing, but the development of vaccines, therapeutic drugs, and other tools, has helped to reduce the harm the virus is able to do.

Eleanor Ajala, the media and communications manager for AHS, led the archive project alongside a team of five who collected memories and designed the archive’s webpage. According to Ajala, the archive was born out of a desire to set the record straight about what health care workers experienced. “There was a mix of disinformation and good information at the national level on the news, but while that was going on, there were staff here who were risking their lives to save their community, and I wanted to make sure their voices were recorded.”

Read the full article on The Oaklandside.