Understanding Fentanyl: S.F.’s Biggest Health Crisis

Plus: The rent is still too damn high, and urban planning cool... Because TikTok.

With each passing day, it’s becoming increasingly clear exactly how this pandemic will be brought to heel. The more people get vaccinated, the fewer cases of coronavirus we have. It really, hopefully, knock-on-wood, seems to be as simple as that.

With control of the pandemic in sight, it’s now time to re-focus on the other challenges facing San Francisco. The drug overdose epidemic, driven by the opioid fentanyl, is, by any reasonable measure, San Francisco’s gravest public health and safety threat. And it has never received the attention it deserves in the public eye. As SF Weekly staff writer Benjamin Schneider reports in this week’s cover story, San Francisco went from being an exemplar in the field of drug overdose prevention, to an epicenter of America’s escalating overdose crisis in just a few short years. In his story, he describes how that happened, and what politicians and public health researchers say we should do about it.

It’s not as simple as giving everybody a vaccine.

We chose San Francisco street artist Calamity Fair to create this week’s cover art precisely because his work can be difficult to look at. His wheat paste collages — with “Weird Lady” being the most recognizable and ubiquitous — are gonzo, bug-eyed, brains-out affairs, which seem to be aimed at unsettling the viewer. They are menacing reminders of the surveillance state… a perpetually humming anxiety… what Hunter S. Thompson might have described as “The Fear.”

As the city continues to grapple with its epidemic of drug overdoses and death we take a hard, uncomfortable look at what this alpha opioid is doing to our streets and our people.

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