Younger residents now vaccine eligible / Free Muni plan inches closer to reality

It's Thursday, May 13.

Hey there, San Francisco. 

Seventy-five percent of residents 16 years or older in San Francisco have received at least one of their Covid vaccine shots as of this week. 

And now, following a CDC recommendation on Wednesday, San Franciscans ages 12 to 15 can receive the shot as well. 

“This expanded eligibility is important progress in our fight against COVID-19, one that is especially encouraging as we look to fully open all of our schools for full-time, in-person learning,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement on Thursday. 

Newly eligible adolescents, who number some 25,000 in the city, are only authorized to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Interestingly, under a new emergency health order from the city, minors can consent themselves to get the shot after all “reasonable” efforts to obtain consent from their legal guardian have been made. 

In other Covid-related news, the CDC relaxed its mask-wearing guidance on Thursday, saying that “anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing." 

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called it an “exciting and powerful moment.” 

Still, the San Francisco Department of Public Health said on Twitter that it must wait for the state to adopt the new guidelines before it can too. So for now, masks on inside. But very soon, that will likely change. 

And with that… onto some more news… 

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors’ budget committee approved a $12.5 million proposal to make Muni fare-free this summer. “This three-month pilot will not only reduce barriers to get people into and back on our buses and trains, but it will also put money directly into the pockets of people who need it the most,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, who co-sponsored the legislation. 

But the fare-waiving plan, which would start July 1, still needs approval from the SFMTA Board of Directors and the full Board of Supervisors to be implemented. That may be an uphill battle.

On Thursday, the Chronicle wrote that transportation officials have previously argued that the millions it would take to test a free-Muni program would “be better used for restoring services and improving reliability.” Also on Thursday, Supervisor Rafael Mandleman spoke out against the proposal saying on Twitter: “Free Muni is a great slogan & bad policy for San Francisco right now...Using scarce public dollars to make poor service free for 3 months is the wrong move.” 

Quick bits:

  • 💰 Walter Wong, the contractor at the center of the City Hall corruption scandal, reached a settlement with the city on Thursday for $1.7 million. Most of the money ($1.45 million) was tied to “non-competitive” contracts awarded to Wong while he was bribing city officials. "San Francisco will not tolerate bribery and insider dealing," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. "This settlement ensures that taxpayers are made whole." (KQED

  • 🏥 Hyatt Hotel heir and longtime San Francisco resident John Pritzker lost his sister to suicide when he was 19-years-old. Now, he’s donated $60 million to UCSF to construct the Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry Building in his sister’s honor and to “bring mental illness out of the shadows.” The five-story facility will be located in Mission Bay, one block from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. (Chronicle

  • 😔 Apple new hire Antonio García Martínez is no longer with the company as of Wednesday after employees raised concerns over his 2016 book “Chaos Monkeys,” in which Martínez described Bay Area women as “soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of sh-t.” (Verge

  • 👷‍♀️ Construction for the new affordable housing building in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood (where the McDonalds used to stand) will be delayed up to one year, pushing back its start date to the summer of 2023. One reason for the delay—the scope of the project has expanded from a six-story building with around 120 units to an eight-story building with roughly 150 units. (Examiner

  • 🚃 All Muni subway stations will open on Saturday, May 15 for the first time in over a year. Riders will be able to check out Muni’s new Wifi service in stations and in tunnels as well. Now for the million-dollar question…Will the escalators work?! (NBC News

  • 🏈 The NFL released the 49ers’ full schedule on Wednesday. (SFGate

And finally… 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we’re going to explain the pandemic to future generations. And maybe that’s why I loved this piece by Mission Local’s Benjamin Wachs so much. 

In it, he describes a post-pandemic bar crawl in the Mission, which turns out to be a lot of safety protocol discussions with bar staff and people trying to figure out how to be social again. 

“San Francisco nightlife is in a transition period, and we don’t know what’s going to stick,” Wachs writes. “You don’t meet strangers, you don’t have serendipitous encounters. Everything is weirdly spacious: Bars with long lines on the outside look like they’re having a slow night on the inside. You can order a B, but it’s BYO fun. The bar cannot help you.” 

What a weird time to be alive. But I’m thankful we’re coming out of it and thankful for articles like this to look back on. 

That's all for today! Thanks for reading y'all and we'll see you tomorrow. It’s almost Friday! -Nick B. 🍻

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