Monday, June 8, 2020

Progress Report: NYC

Annamaria on Day 100

Today, Monday 8 June 2020, is the 100th day of the Covid pandemic in New York.  And it is the day when NYC will begin Phase One of Reopening.  We are about to stand up and try to walk after being knocked for a loop.

Back before the crisis hit us, epidemiologists were issuing warnings about this new bug that might come to the US from China.  Incoming flights from China were soon banned.  In mid-February when I flew home from Florence through Frankfurt, Lufthansa wanted to know if I had a fever (No) and if I had been in China in the past two months (No, not in the past 34 years, actually).  Little did anyone know that the virus had gotten on planes in China and gone to Europe.

In the first two months of this year, I was one of three million travelers coming from Europe and landing at JFK and Newark airports,.  We were carrying all sorts of stuff: dirty laundry, new Italian shoes,  corporate paperwork, gifts for friends, swanky clothing to wear to a family wedding, souvenirs of the Eiffel Tower...  

And at least some of us were bringing in the novel Corona virus.

Three weeks later, Italy went on lockdown, and a week after that I began self-isolating in what was rapidly becoming the world's most dangerous Covid-19 hotspot.

Today, having been through three kinds of hell, New York City is ready to open up.  A bit!  Our governor--the now famous Andrew Cuomo--credits the people of New York for bringing ourselves to this moment.  What we did was follow his fact-based advice, garnered from experts world-wide.

Here is where we are as of this past Saturday, in seven-day rolling averages:
  • Daily number of New Yorkers testing positive has gone from a peak of 57% down to 2%
  • At the peak, the daily number of new cases was 12,000 out of 100,000 of population.  On Saturday, it was 6.4 out of 100,000 of population
  • New hospitalizations are down to 1.27/100K
  • In New York State, the daily number of deaths has gone from a peak of 952, down to 32 this past Friday
Our Guv's by-words that have kept us going.

Now, carefully, cautiously, with eyes and ears tuned on the Guv's daily reports, we are beginning to move around.  We must, and will abide by the cautions of social distancing and wearing masks.  We have thresholds we have to maintain.  If our stats start to climb, we all will have to put ourselves back into isolation.

I have been out more in the past week than all my cumulative outdoor time since last March 16.  On Monday the 1st, I kept an important appointment with the eye doctor, an outing within the guidelines then in force.  Eschewing my usual mode of transportation, the NYC subways, I walked the 6.6 miles round trip, which I loved doing on a gorgeous late spring morning, as attested by photos of icons viewed along my route, above.  By the way, whatever anyone else may say about me, one of the world's top retinologists pronounced me "perfect."

Paint splattered on the entrance to the cafe at the end of my block

Broken windows at a men's shop on Park Avenue
Sad to say, a couple of the things I saw on that walk were not so pleasant. Bad, but these were the only two.  You see, George Floyd had been murdered, and then criminals had hidden themselves among legitimate protestors in Union Square.  Having listened to sirens and firetrucks wailing for serval nights in a row, I expected things to look a lot worse than they were.

Those protests continue.  But they are now mostly calm.  Thanks, I believe, largely because the police are leaving the protestors to their chanting and focussing on people committing crimes.

Baracades at the ready
This past Saturday, I visited my beloved Union Square Market.  It has developed its own rules to keep us all safe.

WSQ monument to Mohandas Gandhi,
the patron saint of peaceful protest.

Stalls spaced further apart than before

Spacings marked for queueing six feet apart
My city is beginning to come back to a semblance of itself, and I hope heading toward a new normal that will include new rules, addressing the societal flaws so dramatically revealed by the pandemic.  Particularly, the worst of the them brought into sharp relief by the murder of George Floyd.

We in NYC worry that those mass demonstrations may result in a spike of new Covid cases, but almost all of us share the protestors' outrage.  The news of sympathetic citizens worldwide voicing support helps enormously.  And in many countries people are demanding justice also for their own underserved countrymen and women.

One of the facts that haunts me about all this is the name of policeman who in nine minutes, in broad daylight, committed the crime that opened a Pandora's Box of outrage.

Coincidence has had a profound affect on my own life.  In my case to my joy.  But I have always had almost a reverence for it.



At the beginning of his administration, Trump had appointed one Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier, as his Director of Communication.  His name is Italian for Scaramouche, a villainous figure in Italian Commedia Dell'Arte.  It seemed 100% prophetic, then, when their relationship fell apart in a farcical way.

That the tragedy of George Floyd's murder and its aftermath were unleashed by a man named Chauvin looks, on the other hand, like the depths of tragedy.

No self-respecting novelist would have allowed herself to give such a name to the character who would--with that label--so predictably commit the signature act of racial injustice.

Truth once again stranger, and in this instance more unbearably tragic, than fiction.


  1. I hope the easing goes well for you. We too, in South Africa, are tentatively putting our toes out of the door. Some restaurants are now open to provide take-out only. And I can walk anytime from 0600 to 1800 instead of 0600 to 0900 - generally too early for my body to partake of exercise.

    1. I am still staying pretty careful about where I go. I see most people complying with the rules, but maybe 20% not wearing masks or keeping them on their chins. I am contemplating carrying a placard that says, "Only Arrogant Assholes Refuse To Wear Masks." GRRRRR!!

  2. Great to see that NYC is slowly opening back up. What a lovely walk (mostly), too!

    1. Thanks, Jamie. It was so great to be on the move out of doors. We New Yorkers walk miles everyday, ordinarily. That was as normal as my life has been all these months!

  3. This is such a great update on people's lives in NY and you are right, the names Scaramouche and chauvinist are almost too much! Living up to one's name, huh?

    1. Thanks, Sujata. My jaw dropped when I saw Chauvin's name for the first time. Think of the misery he would have avoided had he not acted like a stereotype of what his name implies.

  4. A heartfelt column, AmA. Glad to hear/see you getting about again. Our county has just entered "phase 2" of reopening, and traffic (foot, store, road) has REALLY picked up in the last week. Alas, far too many people not wearing masks, and I fear we're in for a ramp-up in infections in the coming weeks. :-(

    1. My fear is the same, EvKa. Maybe we should take the slogan I described to Stan and have it printed on T-shirts. I bet there would be market for them.

  5. Amazingly I didn't spot Chauvin! Thanks very much for the update. I hope everything continues to improve.

    1. Me, too. As our governor tells us daily, it is up to the people to decide. It might work better if the masks helped the wearers, rather they those around them. Then the people who refuse to behave would be putting only their stupid selves at risk.

  6. Today, as we sat on the front porch at the farm, a 400-pound black bear meandered by after a dip in the pond, then a dinner platter-size snapping turtle managed its way up the front porch steps. Tomorrow we head back to NYC for a bit, facing far less visible but much riskier hazards once there. Stay safe, y'all.

  7. Good post. I agree with your T-shirt and wish I had one. I'm trying to find a button to wear in my very view forays outside.
    The protests involving probably millions of people in the U.S. and worldwide are fantastic. Unfortunately, the reasons for them are horrible and systemic. I hope some changes can be made, but racism is so embedded in this country. And looking at police attacking peaceful protesters, including in NYC, is rather unnerving. Journalists were shocked at that aned at the venom the police are aiming at them and photographers. A photographer friend in Philly was hit by a rubber bullet. His hand was sprained, his veyr expensive camera destroyed. But one woman photographer lost an eye in Minneapolis, other journalists were badly injured.
    It is heartening to see such enormous multinational groups in every state, and in Europe, Australia, Latin America, Africa, etc.
    I do not like that our mayor defended cops driving SUV's into a large group of peaceful protesters.
    We'll see what happens.
    I have hope seeing young people out everywhere, undaunted. A lot of young people in NYC were held beyond 24 hours in close vans and cells. Maybe that was deliberate so several would get sick.
    Anyway, I hope things change. Keep wearing your mask and T-shirt.