Mark Foyer
Mark Foyer gets his first vaccination in Oakland. Photo courtesy Nick Parsinger

At shortly after 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7, Mark Foyer rolled up his sleeve and received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine that will protect him from the ravages of COVID-19.

Frankly, it was a shot in the arm for all of us here at the Half Moon Bay Review.

Longtime readers know Foyer as our sportswriter. But that humble title does not do him justice. He is beloved — not because he is the second coming of Jim Murray or a better wordsmith than Frank DeFord. No, his readers, his sources, his co-workers care for Foyer because he leads with his chin. He has always been an unabashed cheerleader for the Half Moon Bay High School Cougars and someone who loves people more than money or prizes. Five years after he last stepped in our building, he remains the soul of the place.

Foyer fell ill in the spring of 2015. His body shut down and eventually doctors settled on a diagnosis: Guillain-Barre syndrome. The autoimmune condition has been relentless in his case, but he is much improved from those early days. Foyer remains in a skilled nursing and subacute care facility in Oakland, but he can communicate and that is a blessing.

Recently, we talked over Zoom and I asked if he might share a photo of himself being vaccinated when his turn came. I’ve known Foyer for going on 20 years and I can never remember him saying no to an assignment. One of his caregivers sent this photo within an hour of his vaccination.

COVID-19 has been particularly devastating in the nation’s long-term care facilities. In December, the AARP found that nursing home staffers and residents make up 39 percent of the nation’s coronavirus deaths. That would mean more than 140,000 people who were living or working in nursing facilities like the one Foyer calls his home away from home have died in the last 10 months. It’s a staggering, sobering fact.

The man in this photo hasn’t been able to entertain visitors since March 5. That is 314 days essentially alone in a room save for the compassionate staff that has been caring for him for years now.

We need to end this pandemic. Wear a mask. Get vaccinated when you can. Do it for Mark.

Clay Lambert is the editorial director for the Half Moon Bay Review.

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