A year ago, it seemed all of San Francisco was making one last trip to the store, as if preparing for a hurricane or blizzard. At the San Francisco Public Press, we had started transitioning to remote work two weeks prior. We had no idea then how challenging the coming year would be for us professionally and personally, and for the whole world.
Two reporters who have been covering the city’s response to homelessness during the pandemic for the San Francisco Public Press, Brian Howey and Nuala Bishari, reflect with “Civic” on a year of stories about seizing belongings, COVID-19 testing, hotel policy and supportive housing.
A year into the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly everyone living in the United States has experienced some level of psychological distress. Clinical counselor Christoph Zepeda discusses the challenges his clients have faced during the pandemic.
The lack of fresh water available to homeless people in San Francisco during the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a “human rights abuse,” a community organizer said as the city’s shelter-in-place orders drag into a second year.
On the sidewalk in front of the San Francisco Department of Public Health on Thursday morning, a dozen or so activists stood holding yellow signs reading “Isolation kills, too!” Julie Schneider, the field service coordinator for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, was one of these advocates for residents of facilities like nursing homes, who have been calling for in-person visitation in long-term care to resume promptly. “Civic” spoke with Schneider and volunteer ombudsman Richard Correia at the demonstration. “If you spend enough time around people that are in the end stages of their life, there are things that keep them going. And then there are times when, you know, they lose the will,” Correia said. One of those things is seeing loved ones, he said.
High school sophomore Sadie Crawford and Dr. Martha Merchant, a clinical psychologist and lead consultant for the Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools program, spoke with “Civic” about building highly personal conversations about mental health virtually.
San Francisco public schools remain closed and students are still distance learning. Three parents of children in the district told “Civic” how they would like schools to reopen. José-Luis Tekun Mejia, Alicia Cruz and Jennifer Sey also expressed concern about the toll that being out of school for nearly a year has been taking on young people and parents alike.
Self-Help for the Elderly, has stepped in not just with advocacy for improved access to vaccines, but by bringing doctors who can administer vaccines to the seniors who need them at community centers they already visit. President and CEO Anni Chung joined “Civic” to share how the organization has been vaccinating the seniors it serves.
While attention has shifted to mass vaccinations, the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco remain focused on finding therapies to treat COVID-19 and defeat future Coronaviruses.
As part of a series of discussions on “Civic” about school reopening and distance learning, high school juniors Alan Terrones, at Gateway High, Adrianna Zhang, at Lowell High and William Axelrod, at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, share their experiences and perspectives.