Ventilation Won’t Make Offices as Safe as Pre-Pandemic, Expert Says

Engineers are fielding questions about whether upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will make their buildings as safe as they were prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Steve Taylor told “Civic” that’s not possible, but if workers wear masks, existing systems that meet ventilation standards we already have should be enough to bring the risk of infection to acceptable levels.

View of Alcatraz, approaching by ferry

Return to Alcatraz: 50 Years After Native American Occupation, National Park Service Considers Permanent Cultural Center

As California reopens to tourism, Alcatraz is once again drawing visitors from around the world and featuring an exhibit celebrating the 19-month-long Native American occupation of the island 50 years ago. And in a dramatic, if delayed, response to the occupation, the National Park Service is contemplating the installation of a permanent Native American cultural center on Alcatraz in collaboration with a group that formed with that as one of its key objectives more than 50 years ago.

A view of San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood, set against a yellow sunset.

SF Has Not Made a Single Payment From Federal Rent-Relief Program as Eviction Moratorium Poised to End

With time running out, not a single San Francisco resident has received a check from the city’s federally funded rent-relief program. Barely a week remains before landlords can resume evictions for unpaid rents due during the pandemic.

“I have never been evicted or homeless,” said Buddy Bates, a renter in Parkmerced and father of two. “I live in that fear constantly now.”

Markings on a store floor indicate where customers should stand to maintain social distance.

With California Reopened, Should We Keep Social Distancing?

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of pediatrics – infectious diseases and of health research and policy at Stanford University, and Dr. Lee Riley, professor of infectious diseases at the School of Public Health in the division of infectious diseases and vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley talked with “Civic” about the relative benefit of social distancing in concert with other prevention measures and under what circumstances distancing still makes sense.

Two toilets sit on a movable trailer on a street in San FRancisco's Mission District.

City’s Popular Portable Toilets Frequently Moved or Closed

While the number of 24-hour Pit Stop public bathrooms increased 16-fold at the beginning of the pandemic, keeping them in place has proven to be a challenge. Many high-traffic Pit Stops — some used more than 1,000 times per month — are being relocated, and Supervisor Mat Haney wants to know why.

Juan Hernandez stands against a wall.

Cleaning During COVID-19: How the Pandemic Affected Janitorial Work

Janitors have been taking to the streets in San Francisco for weeks to advocate for better working conditions during the pandemic, even going on a three-day strike in mid-March.

Juan Hernandez, a janitor with decades of experience who works at a 42-story office building, joined “Civic” to give a sense of the day-to-day reality of this work during the pandemic.

Alfredo Banuelos. Courtesy photo.

Frontline Dispatch: SF Paramedic Reflects on Pandemic

Before coronavirus cases were confirmed in San Francisco, paramedic Alfredo Banuelos and his colleagues were watching case numbers in other cities, still at a distance. Then he got his first patient. When the virus arrived in San Francisco and the city locked down and everything changed, procedures on the ambulance changed too. He reflects on how the pandemic unfolded for emergency medical responders. “I remember having our morning roundups, and having our supervisors say, ‘OK, we’re still fine you guys.’ But then you get closer: OK, now it’s in the state of Washington.

Susan Philip at the city's COVID Command Center at Moscone Center in April 2021.

SF Relaxes Outdoor Mask Rules

Under a new health order, San Franciscans no longer need to wear a mask while doing outdoor activities like walking or biking alone or with members of their households. Unvaccinated people should wear a mask if social distancing can’t be maintained. Fully vaccinated people can almost entirely forgo masks outdoors, with certain exceptions. Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s health officer, explained the details of the new order and how these decisions are made on “Civic.” 

“When people are choosing to appropriately follow the guidance, and not necessarily wear their masks all the time outdoors, I’ve heard stories about being yelled at for not wearing their mask — just in the last day or so since the order has come out — being told that they’re being inconsiderate, and people getting very upset with them. They are not doing anything that is against our guidance.

Sara Eisenberg deputy city attorney

City Attorney to SF School District: Show Us Reopening Plan Details

After more than a year of online learning, certain groups of students and staff at some San Francisco schools began meeting in person in mid-April. For tens of thousands of students, distance learning continues. The school board and district intend to give every student the option of coming back full time in the fall. But the lawsuit that City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed against the district and board in February to compel them to reopen schools promptly is ongoing even as more students return to campuses. Sara Eisenberg, a deputy city attorney and chief of strategic advocacy in the city attorney’s office, said on “Civic” that the city attorney’s office is continuing the case to ensure that the district actually follows through on its promise.