It strikes me that SF has been impressively well-organized and smart in both its public-policy and its personal-behavior response to covid. I believe this is reflected in its infection numbers per 100,000 residents. The JHU site told me it was at 3,731. This is far fewer cases per 100,000 than any of the other major US cities or counties I’ve checked. Atlanta’s DeKalb & Fulton counties, for example – home of the CDC itself – have well over 7,000 cases per 100,000 residents. NYC’s Manhattan island (New York County), is actually doing better than those two Atlanta-region counties, with 5,681 per 100,000 – despite NYC’s rough, rough start. NYC and SF also share the distinction of being among the most densely-populated urban centers in the US. Cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles tend to sprawl, and I’m quite confident that they had far lower rates of public-transit ridership than either SF or NYC, even before covid.
I don’t want to turn this into a public-health treatise, so I’ll stop there. My goal is to share photos which highlight some of the personal behaviors and public rules which have helped keep infection rates comparatively low in SF. If we close off our ability to study and learn, even from those with whom we see ourselves as quite different, then our ability to adapt really will freeze and that will spell trouble. I was in SF for most of a week at the end of January, just as the city was reopening its outdoor-dining options, as well as personal-grooming facilities like the barbershop which you’ll see below. (Note that everyone is lining up on the sidewalk outside, not waiting indoors and sharing air with each other.) I don’t think anyone in California has eaten an indoor restaurant meal since last March – or at least, not anyone following the public-health rules. But at least now we can meet our friends for outdoor dining again, and we are. I know this is currently impossible in places with harder winters, and that fact forces more difficult choices for individuals, businesses, and public-policy-makers. There again, I’d look to the attitude we’ve mostly adopted in the bay area: we’re all in this together, and we all need to help protect each other and the most vulnerable among us.
A few comments about the photos: I was happy to see that the playground at Mission Dolores Park, at the very top, was open for kids to play in – I’m not sure whether or not it was closed during the heavier restrictions, but it’s nice to see kids playing and to hear their shouts of delight. Here in Santa Rosa, most playgrounds I’ve seen have been officially closed, which makes me quite sad. SFPL is doing what our SoCo library is doing: reserve your items online, and do a touchless pickup and / or return. Returned materials are then quarantined for a few days. You’ll also see a touchless coffee pickup table for the mobile coffee truck in Alamo Square Park.
Yes, today’s errant mask was also photographed during the same hike from which came the photos for this morning’s post. And yes, we all know we’ll clearly still be dealing with covid, masks and all that they imply for quite some time to come. Ugh. Welcome again to 2021 :-).
Normally I’d be in SF with friends and going to concerts or museums at least a few days every month. Such has not been the case since I returned home in July … because covid, duh. So I’ve been in the city precisely three times: when I returned from Bangladesh for a night since bus services are more limited now; and briefly in September linked to the flights to and from Wisconsin. These pics are from both trips and I’m mashing them all together to keep from falling even further behind in the backlog of photos I’ve not yet posted. Whenever travel becomes more appealing again…as you can see, SF’s a lovely city, so do think about visiting. And of the densely-crowded US cities, it’s so far done comparatively well at limiting the spread, in part due to measures you can see in a lot of these photos. The joys of a population which uses science and evidence as the foundation for its policies and politics… 🙂
When I first returned home in July, a thing that gave me great joy was the ability again to hop on my bike and ply the bike paths through mountains, alongside our local creeks, or through our local parks. A thing that saddened me was how many of the great facilities in our parks were closed due to covid — baseball fields, soccer fields, what-have-you. (I posted a sad example at the following link, and the good news is that the last time I was at that specific field, they were playing soccer there again! — https://somuchworldsolittletime.com/2020/09/30/county-views-23/ — Ok, Ok, full disclosure, I took the photo in the link some time in July or maybe August but didn’t post it until the end of September. Oh well…)
In early July when I returned, only tennis courts were open for use, and I’m told even those were closed from April for a few months. I conclude, by watching what’s happening around the world, that like many things human and organic, we’re all struggling to get the balance right. Having watched the fairly clear-eyed and transparent benchmarks established by both our governor (for California) and our county’s public-health officer, I was happy when I biked through this park on Saturday to see an actual high-school or little-league baseball game happening, with spectators spread about in what I interpreted as familial pod clusters. (Yes, this past Saturday, these photos are pretty current.)
We’ve had a fair number of total infections here in Sonoma County, but it seems as though we’ve generally managed the keep the curve reasonably flat. It strikes me that’s the most reasonable public-health goal, because it seems to carry the greatest likelihood of reducing actual deaths by allowing hospitals and clinics more time to cope, rather than becoming vastly overloaded as we’ve seen happen in many countries and cities around the world. In any case, as I eagerly long for the ability to be out and about without worries over masks and social distancing – may the science and evidence tell us it’s reasonable to do so before another year is out, at least?!? — I was just so very happy to see kids playing ball and families able to watch again.
It would hardly be a covid-era series without some indication of what the local rules are, eh? One of my current dreams (there are a few, a most-important of which involves unprecedented numbers of 20-somethings from around the nation turning out to vote in the next election) is that a day will come when young people of the future will hear their parents and grandparents talk about covid with much the same confusion and wonder with which my generation heard our parents talk about the fears of polio, in their youth. May it soon be so…
Urban garden resumes, I guess. 🙂