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.

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.

The Grier family, featured in the documentary film “Sky Blossom.”

Documentary ‘Sky Blossom’ Highlights Young Caregivers

Millions of Americans have stepped in as caregivers for loved ones with illnesses or injuries that mean they need help with daily living. The work is generally unpaid and often invisible to the world outside the family. Some of these caregivers are children. A new documentary, “Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation,” highlights young people who are taking on these roles in their families. Director and co-producer Richard Lui, a news anchor at MSNBC and NBC News, talked with “Civic” about why and how young people are stepping in to do this work and what it means to be a caregiver. 

“Sky Blossom” will screen at CAAMFest on May 18 at 6 p.m. It will also air on MSNBC May 29 and 30, and will reach a theater in every state on May 26. 

“Caregiving for my own father is what probably opened my eyes to this.

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.

Gig Worker Classification Worsens Inequities During Pandemic, Organizer Says

Drivers for apps like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have said that being classified as independent contractors while working during a pandemic means they face the impossible choice between paying their bills and managing their exposure risk. Cherri Murphy, a lead organizer for Gig Workers Rising, spoke with “Civic” about drivers’ circumstances.

Campaign Phone Bankers Pivot to Vaccine Outreach

Former state senate candidate and public bank advocate Jackie Fielder recently launched a political action committee, Daybreak PAC, and has shifted some campaign organizing infrastructure toward a vaccine access effort. Some phone bank volunteers now make calls to seniors living in neighborhoods like the Bayview, to ask if they would like to get vaccinated and if they face any barriers to doing so.