Mission District mural gifted to community highlights COVID's impact

A new mural in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood is a gift from health care workers to the community they serve. The artwork highlights how people's lives were impacted by the pandemic.

The mural is a collaboration between artists and health care workers. It's on a building on York Street off of 24th Street.

"The butterflies are actually a symbol of people we've lost during the pandemic," said artist Marina Perez-Wong as she putting the finishing touches on the mural.  

The artwork honors frontline worker for their contributions and sacrifice.

"We wanted to commemorate the lives affected by COVID," said Dr. Triveni DeFries with Richard Fine People's Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

The project was commissioned by health care workers.

"Many of our patients are essential workers. They're farm workers, health care workers, construction workers.

It also commemorates the work of frontline workers in our own clinic, in our own hospital," said Dr. DeFries.

Seed money for the mural came from three nurse practitioners who volunteered to work at shelter-in-place hotels.

The money was gifted to them by grateful co-workers who wanted to honor their sacrifice.

"I really see this as a testament to resilience and hope," said nurse practitioner Valerie Sobel-Twain who wanted to pay tribute to people who worked to help others during the pandemic.  

The mural was created by artists with Precita Eyes muralists, a nonprofit with help from others.

"As health care workers, we rarely get to come out of the hospital and into the community to collaborate with artists so this was really special," said Dr. DeFries.  

The mural illustrates the devastating impact the pandemic has on communities of color: LatinX, African Americans and Native Americans.

"Disproportionately more likely to get sick with COVID, disproportionately have complications with COVID and far more likely to die of COVID," said Sobel-Twain.

The mural chronicles the stages of the pandemic: a grandmother sewing masks, a car parade replacing an in-person high school graduation, and two people in an embrace.

"We haven't been able to be that close to loved ones and that hit us pretty hard. I think everybody was affected by that," said Perez-Wong.  

Moving forward, those involved with the mural project want to plant the seeds of change and hope. 

"As devastating as COVID has been to our community, we've also seen people coming together in a very loving way, a very supportive way, taking care of one another," said Sobel-Twain.  

Health care workers say they are raising money to help pay for the mural.

They describe the artwork as a bridge to the future and hope it brings joy.

They've started a Gofundme.