Can we turn this game around? Entering year 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted on: January 11, 2022San Francisco

Will Crews stands in front of HealthRIGHT 360's front entrance.

Cheers readers! My name is Will Crews (he/him) and I am currently serving with Cheers readers! My name is Will Crews (he/him) and I am currently serving with NHC San Francisco at HealthRIGHT360. This year has stretched the way I view healthcare, and I am excited to share with you some of my experiences!

COVID has us stuck in a loop - despair, hope, pseudo-normalcy - only to be followed by disheartening news of variants and city restrictions. Each step we take against SARS-CoV-2, we are bitterly pushed back two - as if this was a chess match and our wishful “check-mate” was followed by COVID revealing its hidden bishop that quickly puts us on the defensive.

Repetitive actions resulting in the same scenarios is the definition of insanity - so what are we doing - or failing to do - that leaves us playing this endless game? Although my knowledge of sociological pandemic responses across time is limited, I do believe that this pandemic is unique in that our own chess pieces are different shades of the same color, and the difference between the tint of graphite and the hue of charcoal is becoming bigger than the contrasting white pieces plotting to attack.

Unfortunately, there were pawns that we lost in COVID’s first moves while some rooks haven’t even accepted that the game is being played. Knights have risked and sacrificed their lives to help pieces in harm’s way, while kings and queens have harmed their own players by underestimating the skill and determination of the opponent. Perhaps past pandemics played out like this, but the disconnection in our own team’s goal of winning must be understood and addressed or the dreary déjà vu we are experiencing will linger on.

Will stands in front of the Health Care is a Right mural near HealthRIGHT 360.

Serving with NHC at HealthRIGHT360 has both strengthened my frustration with COVID, while also eliciting ambivalent feelings towards vaccine response. In my role, I am responsible for coordinating vaccine availability for community members of San Francisco which comes with its own set of feedback and insight. Getting to see both shades of our chess pieces - those eagerly scheduling appointments for boosters alongside those refusing initial vaccine inoculation - has taught me more about this disconnect, which has encouraged me to learn more about vaccine refusal and skepticism.

Hesitancy about anything new is normal and misinformation is scary, but the same outcome is wanted by everyone: health and normalcy. However, it’s imperative to figure out how this shared dream can be achieved. Some of the brightest scientists have put months of work into creating tangible hope in the form of vaccines, and having an immune system prepared to combat COVID’s moves is currently the best option for us to progress all together. Sometimes the best form of offense is a strong defense, and the more pieces vaccinated, the stronger our team is.

While the bleakness of entering a third year of this pandemic can cause us to want to forfeit the game altogether, it’s important to remember that we have faced many challenging opponents before. With enough perseverance and unification, we can come out of this game not only with a victory, but with life-saving lessons for later.

About the Author:

William Crews

Position Title:

Quality Improvement/Diabetes Care Coordinator

Where are you from?

Austin, TX (place I lived before NHC)

Why did you decide to join NHC?

To gain experience and knowledge about the evolving field of public health and learn more about ways to advocate for those experiencing health disparities.

What are you hoping to gain or learn during your service term?

Host Site

1563 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103
1563 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103