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  Edition # 139  
San Francisco, 07-26-2021


Figure [1]: The first lunch in a restaurant for us after the pandemic.

Angelika Around May/June 2021, San Francisco awakened from its Sleeping Beauty state. The above average vaccination rate in the city and surrounding county had lowered the incidence count to one-digit values per 100,000 residents. For weeks, the numbers were hovering under 2! Something like euphoria began to develop. Had they indeed beaten the virus? Consequently, on June 15th, all restrictions were lifted, and city life lovers pulled out all the stops. We saw packed restaurants, with tables both inside and outside, and more people not wearing masks, even while shopping at grocery stores. Only the non-vaccinated were required to wear a mouth and nose covering.

Figure [2]: This tattoo parlor offers to ink the vaccinated with no mask requirement.

Tourists could be seen here and there, and even Downtown San Fransico didn't look as dystopian anymore, slowing losing its ghost town feel. I would meet with selected friends in restaurants, after having not seen them in over a year, and Michael started attending his regular card game one evening. Even Michael's beloved soccer game is now happening regularily again. It is his passion to play every Thursday and Sunday. And we finally got to dine at a restaurant again after a long hike, a tradition we always cherished before Corona. A collective sigh of relief ran through San Francisco and its surrounding counties.

Figure [3]: This fashion store is tired of seeing people wearing sweatpants.

I must admit that, at first, it felt rather strange to take off the mask in public spaces, regardless of vaccination status, especially since I'm used to wearing it throughout the day while working at our school. Also, not everyone was 100% sure what the mandated masking protocol actually looked like, including myself. Store and restaurant owners put up signs to inform vaccinated customers that wearing their mask was no longer required. Alas, no one around here checks customers on their vaccination status at the door. I personally prefer the "trust is fine, but control is better" doctrine, but Americans love their freedom and many see mask mandates as some form of government control over their lives, so stores simply hope that their customers are telling the truth.

In general, I'm rather sceptical that people are willing to take any good advice to heart, and that's why I'm still wearing a mask when I'm inside a store, where I don't know the vaccination status of my fellow humans. It almost seems as if I started a trend here, as many have started wearing masks with the recent events of the delta variant approaching, and infection numbers rising. Even the San Francisco health department has now issued a recommendation to that effect.

Figure [4]: Vaccinated customers may now enter the REI store without wearing a mask.

Alas, the preventive measures aren't mandatory yet, unlike further south in Los Angeles where mask requirements have returned. No surprise, as San Francisco has stunning vaccination rates, 80% of those who are eligible have already received their first shot, and 70% have been fully vaccinated. And yet, the delta variant is spreading steadily. Infection rates have climbed to double digit numbers, currently they're at 14 per 100,000 residents. But vaccination numbers are growing slower now, even in regions with lower total vaccination rates than San Francisco. In all of California, there's now programs in place to motivate people to get vaccinated. They range from cash payments (50 Dollars), to free tickets to amusement parks, to special lottery drawings for the vaccinated. They're pulling out all the stops!

Since not everyone responds to carrots, there's also stick-based incentives. Many universities in California (e.g. Stanford University, San Francisco State, UC Berkeley) are mandating their students to be vaccinated. London Breed, our mayor, announced, that all 35,000 city employees are required to get the shot. Those who refuse are putting their job on the line. Our school also requires staff to get the vaccine. I support that, having worked through the past school year in fear of getting Covid, or that the virus starts infecting our students. By the way, we managed to get through the year without a single case of Covid in our school, and we we've been continunally open since the fall of 2020. My students are quite excited about getting vaccinated and at the same time sad that the vaccine hasn't been approved for their age group yet. Many anti-vaxxers could learn a lesson from them. Edit

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