On Tuesday, some folks around town — Jacob Hubbard is pictured in Dolores Park — gathered, and weren’t wearing masks. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner) (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)

On Tuesday, some folks around town — Jacob Hubbard is pictured in Dolores Park — gathered, and weren’t wearing masks. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner) (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)

We made it to the other side!

Congrats, S.F., for handling hardship with compassion

.

We did it!

By the time you read this, you’ll be able to belly up to a bar and sit elbow to elbow with a stranger. You’ll be able to get up from a table in a restaurant and not have to put on a mask when you use the restroom. You’ll be able to wait in line at the pharmacy without being six feet away from the next person. We freaking did it San Francisco! I’m so very proud of us.

After 15 months of waxing and waning restrictions, quarantines, mask wearing, hand sanitizing, isolation, worry, sadness and freezing dinners in parklets, we’ve finally made it out to the other side. Hell yes!

And do you know how we did it? By believing in science, listening to experts, and most importantly, giving a damn about each other. That last one is what really counts. As an entire community we said, “Wearing a mask has nothing to do with my personal freedoms” and “The last thing I want to do is give someone else this virus” and “I’m not in a stupid death cult.”

Because as we witnessed, that’s what the entire GOP has become. By politicizing a highly spreadable virus that’s killed over 600,000 people, these morons have made it so that states with Republican governors have the highest death rates while Democrat led states are finding themselves at the other end of the pandemic.

But let’s not dwell on all that, instead let’s celebrate the fact that San Francisco has nearly reached herd immunity and the rest of the Bay Area isn’t far behind.

We did it!

If I weren’t in a monogamous relationship, I’d be making out with half of San Francisco just because I could! I know people talked about a COVID baby boom, but I have a feeling the real baby boom is about nine months away.

Unfortunately, though things can start going back to normal in the Bay Area, the pandemic is far from over. COVID is still raging in other parts of the world, and the longer people in the U.S. go without vaccination, the more likely it is that other variants will pop up. This means that we will most likely have to get booster shots in the coming months just to protect us from our fellow citizens.

Plus, there are other ways the impact of the pandemic will stick around. Just because the mask mandate his been rescinded, doesn’t mean everyone will feel comfortable walking around naked faced just yet. And some businesses may still ask customers to wear a mask inside for a while until they get more accustomed to this new reality. We must remember to be patient with these folks because we all just went through something really traumatic, and everyone processes things at different speeds.

On top of all that, hopefully going forward, it will be normalized for us to wear masks when we are in public if we’re feeling ill. Hell, I may wear them on public transit in general. And I am for sure going to keep using hand sanitizer when I touch things in public because, let’s face it, people are gross.

But did I mention that we did it?!?!

There has been a litany of things done by Mayor Breed and Gov. Newsom in the past that I haven’t agreed with. But their handling of the pandemic deserves our applause. Same goes for the Board of Supervisors. Yes, there were missteps and there’s still a lot to be accomplished, especially with regard to our unhoused neighbors, but our elected leaders actually listened to their health advisors and to experts in communicable diseases. And because of that we are here today. San Francisco is a shining example of how to handle COVID partially because of their leadership and partially because of you.

Yes you.

Thank you for giving a damn about your neighbors by making sure that they were looked after and had access to food. Thank you for covering your nose and mouth to help stop the spread of a highly dangerous virus. Thank you for following health guidelines and all the restrictions that seemed to change each week. Thank you for enduring all the very real hardships of the past 15 months with dignity, grace and compassion.

There’s still a lot more to do. All the lessons we hoped our society would learn from this — like the how things like universal health care, paid sick leave, and universal basic income could help mitigate future calamities like this — have obviously not been learned.

We also still need to mourn not just the people who died from COVID, but also those we lost from the ancillary impacts of the pandemic, people who succumbed to things like suicide and drug use. And we must mourn the many businesses and cultural anchors that shut down forever.

But for now, let’s just take a moment to celebrate where we are.

We did it!

Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of The Examiner.

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