In the face of Omicron, San Francisco is an oasis of science and sanity

‘This is how we do things here. We wear a mask and get our shots’

You know how critics love to bash San Francisco. “San Fransicko” author Michael Shellenberger is turning it into a cottage industry.

We are the city that can’t keep its streets clean. The city that doesn’t know how to deal with its homeless population. The city with open-air drug markets.

Could I just add one more?

We’re the city that has handled the COVID crisis brilliantly.

I couldn’t be more serious. The City got on this from the jump, hewed to strict rules and got the vaccine.

The result?

San Francisco is one of the safest places in the country. Last month San Francisco General did not report a single COVID death.

Which may seem like an odd milestone to celebrate — nobody died. But in Detroit in November there were 16 deaths.

Some credit has to go to the emergency providers, of course. It seems long ago when we were banging on pans each night to support them. Now we are taking them for granted. It must be discouraging.

But first and foremost, this comes down to the people of The City. And peer pressure. The message is: This is how we do things here. We wear a mask and we get our shots.

Today over 730,000 San Franciscan’s have been vaccinated with at least one shot — 84% of the population.

I know we couldn’t wait to get vaxxed. When the vaccine became available, we made phone calls, scoured websites and asked for advice from friends. We drove to another city to get our shots and the only question was: How soon can we get there?

Friends told us they actually got a little emotional when they were finally vaccinated. It was such a relief to be safe.

Now, compare and contrast that with this story from last week’s Sacramento Bee.

It concerns the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, who were objecting to a state mandate that all school children were required to be vaccinated to go to school.

Board Chairman John Hidahl kicked things off with the announcement, “I don’t believe the vaccine is effective personally.”

Which opened the door to over two hours of public comment, where participants suggested that the vaccine was a “mystery drug” that was “killing people.”

An elected official, Supervisor George Turnboo, claimed, “We do not know what is in these vaccines,” which was followed by sustained applause.

Epidemiology expert Dr. Timothy Brewer drolly suggested in the story that skeptics check the FDA and Centers for Disease Control websites, which posted the ingredients of the vaccines a year ago.

You get the idea.

And the result? According to Nov. 24 reporting from South Tahoe Now, which covers El Dorado, “There have been 27 new cases of COVID (in the county) and six new deaths recorded since yesterday.”

That’s what you’d probably expect in El Dorado County where Tahoe Now reports that only 56% are vaccinated.

Meanwhile, as of Nov. 23, San Francisco General had just 21 COVID hospitalizations, eight of whom were in intensive care.

It is going to be fascinating to see how history treats this. There have been such wild swings in opinion.

The Donald Trump administration was all about vaccines when he was in office. Getting the shot available was priority No. 1 in Project Warp Speed. He boasted of getting it done so quickly.

Then there was the shift away from vaccines by the rural, the right and the angry. It seems incomprehensible. Isn’t it enough to see your neighbors and friends dying?

What more motivation do you need? The New York Times even reported on a ghoulish website that takes virulent anti-vax messages from the social media posts of militant non-believers and trolls them — after they die of COVID.

But nothing seems to make an impression. The state of Michigan has a vaccination rate of 60% and not even half of residents are fully vaccinated.

The result? On Nov. 22, according to the Detroit Free Press, there were 4,181 people hospitalized with COVID (a single day record) and 84% of the ICU beds were full.

What’s more, after a surge in cases, 15 Michigan school districts have opted to return to virtual learning. (El Dorado, facing a surge, has reinstated a mask mandate.)

Can you imagine the furor if the San Francisco school district went back to virtual learning?

Luckily, that’s unlikely here. As the San Francisco Unified School District COVID dashboard shows, since the start of the school year, out of a population of 63,000 students and staff, there have been 557 cases.

The anti-vaxx folks keep saying this needs more testing. Well, San Francisco is a city of over 800,000 souls. Is that a big enough sample for you?

What The City has shown is that vaccines work, masks are a good idea and with a little caution we can cut COVID cases dramatically and hold a full school year safely.

It would be a bitter pill to those San Francisco bashers to be told they should take a page from our COVID book. And you can bet they’ll do all they can to avoid it.

You probably saw last week’s Doonesbury comic. It was all about COVID. In the last two panels, an emergency room doctor recognizes a neighbor in an ICU bed.

“Ed?” he says. “My God, what are you doing here?”

“Owning the libs,” the patient says.

Speaking for San Francisco … not that impressed.

Contact C.W. Nevius at Twitter: @cwnevius

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