Covid-19. The View from New York – 10 days later…

On March 30th, Slugger was kind enough to post my “View from New York” and when I wrote it, I was probably motivated in part by shock and anger and how quickly the C-19 crisis had escalated on my doorstep, and by the horrifying headlines and statistics I was seeing reported every hour. Also, I was concerned about what was about to unfold “back home”. My mum used to say that her mum used to say that, “Whatever happens in America makes it here eventually…”. I mentioned that I have family on the NHS front-line and relatives in full-time care, and I have been glued to the news out of Ireland (both parts) as much as I have in New York and across the United States. I didn’t intend to write a follow-up piece, but things have developed beyond the plot of a dystopian movie (I seem to use the word dystopian a lot these days), and as I’m still in seclusion in my Brooklyn four story walk-up apartment, I thought I mightmake some use of my time. Again, I am writing this from the perspective of an un-opinionated Brooklynite and I will leave political discourse, and events back in Ireland and Britain, to others to debate and discuss…

Firstly, I am now in good health. As with any ailment or illness, it’s only after you come out the other side you realize just how sick you actually were. On Friday, I had a video consultation with my GP who assured me that, absent a test, I probably “had it” and she congratulated me on getting through it and on my (hopefully) developing antibodies. My office has moved me from its “presumptive” list (sounds like “consumptive”) to its “recovered list” but we’re all still going to be working from home for the foreseeable future. My dog came home yesterday after two weeks staying with friends, and as she does not approve of me watching Golden Girls re-runs at 4 am or sleeping-in past 7 o’clock in the morning, I have some normality and routine back in my life. But outside, in the real world, the horrors continue to mount up.

When I wrote my last two cents’ worth, I cited the incredible imagery in New Yok City of a battleship, one of the world’s largest convention centres, and Central Park being used as field hospitals. Since then you can add the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Google it. It’s one of the world’s largest cathedrals (despite being “unfinished”). It’s Episcopalian, which in the US means Anglicans who love the gays, and has a reputation for opening its doors to all of society. It’s also an awesome (literally) place to hear classical music. But seriously, can you imagine Saint Anne’s or the Twin Spires being used as a hospital? My grand-father was killed in the Easter blitz in Belfast. He was digging out the rubble of Trinity Church on Trinity Street when he was taken out by an unexploded bomb. The remains of the victims of the Belfast blitz were stored in the Falls swimming baths as a morgue. There was a news story here yesterday that they might start temporarily burying the dead in city parks because the dozens of refrigerated lorries outside the hospitals and the funeral homes can’t take any more bodies.

Over 700 people died in New York yesterday. Think about that: seven hundred people died. Yesterday. Imagine if that was a bomber or a shooter? The media would be talking about it for years. More people have died in New York City than died in the September 11th attacks. Reliable news sources say that one person dies every 45 seconds. It’s surpassing the height of the AIDS epidemic. Thousands of people are dying in their apartments and houses and not being counted as C-19 victims. Five thousand people have “officially” died across the State in the last couple of weeks, and bear in mind something like two thirds to three quarters of New Yorkers live in the greater metropolitan area. They don’t have the time or resources to test dead patients in hospital for the virus, so the official numbers are in all likelihood way off the mark. All I know is I am still hearing the non-stop sound of ambulance sirens 24/7 outside. I play a classical music radio station all day and all night to drown out the noise. It’s not even the headline news anymore. Take a look at the New York Times or any other trustworthy news source and the numbers of dead and dying barely makes it to the front page anymore.

On my exceedingly infrequent trips to my local supermarket for essential items, I ensure to wear my DIY mask out of respect for the real heroes, the cashiers and shelf stackers (look up no-sew face masks online, it’s genius!). I see the janitor in my building taking out the trash every day and I make a point of stopping to say hello and thank-you (from a distance). I haven’t seen a neighbor or a friend in person in weeks. I live across the street from a park, which remains open for now. On my short excursions with the dog I have noticed that the only people I see not wearing a face mask, improvised or otherwise, are the joggers. The sweating, panting, selfish joggers less than 3 feet apart from everyone else. I try to be calm but inside I am screaming obscenities at them…

MTA New York City Transit Sanitizes Stations and Subway Cars” by MTAPhotos is licensed under CC BY

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