Coronavirus Update From New York City: January 13, 2022

As has been the case with the Omicron variant, things continue to change rapidly where I am living.

At this time last week, cases were increasing quite rapidly in New York City. It now appears as if we have potentially reached our peak in terms of cases here in New York. I hear that this is the case for some other major metropolitan areas on the East Coast of the United States. Albeit, it’s an extraordinarily high peak, but a peak nevertheless. The hope is that we can now start to recover from Omicron, and see cases start to decrease.

That doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods in New York City–far from it. With the number of people testing positive and falling ill with this, so many of the essential services have slowed down significantly. We’re still having issues here in New York with things like mass transit running at reduced schedules, EMTs continuing to face staffing shortages, and more. Given that the rate of the virus’s spread has compromised or outright crippled many essential services, all of us as individuals need to slow the spread–in other words, not doing things like going to parties and crowded bars maskless (even if you are vaccinated).

On a personal level, I am still healthy, and I am grateful that I am working from home again for the time being. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that if I weren’t working from home, I would’ve been exposed to COVID. And, knowing how contagious the Omicron variant is, there’s a decent chance I would’ve tested positive for it and have brought it home to the rest of my family. None of that is the case, however, because I am working from home. Hopefully I can continue to avoid this, though some infectious disease experts are suggesting that everyone is probably going to be exposed to Omicron at some point.

My social life is, unfortunately, mostly confined to a bunch of boxes on Zoom (or some other virtual media platform). However, it sure beats the alternative right now, which is to risk catching or spreading the virus to someone else, particularly someone vulnerable like an immunocompromised person or someone who is under the age of 5.

So, that is how I am doing. I hope others are healthy!

Please note that I will not be publishing a blog post next Monday.

Why We Need to Discuss How We Teach Kids About Racism in United States History

In the second part of my two-part blog post on Critical Race Theory (CRT), I said that it seems like the theory has gotten mixed in there with larger, yet important, discussions on how classrooms should navigate through topics of race and racism. I even conveyed in my post that such discussions are needed. This is an opinion I feel strongly about as someone who was a history major in college and is still a self-professed American history nerd.

However, what I didn’t go into in said post was why those discussions are needed.

So, why are these discussions necessary? Why can’t we just go on with history lesson plans that teach about America’s greatness, without even so much as questioning it?

Simply put, not teaching about the parts of America’s past and present that involve racism is not a complete teaching of American history.

How can you have a truthful teaching of American history without talking about how there were slaves for nearly the first 80 years of the history of the United States, and how those slaves counted as 3/5 of a person?[1] Or how it took a bloody civil war to end slavery?[2] Or how it took nearly a century beyond that for legalized racial segregation to become a thing of the past? Or how the “War on Drugs” in more recent times has jailed millions of African Americans, thereby taking away millions of African Americans’ right to vote?[3] All these things are a part of our history.

If we start talking about Native Americans, we run into a whole other element of American history that is inconvenient for some to teach about, yet would leave us with an incomplete picture of American history if we don’t teach it. This includes the killing of so many Native Americans, one of the most infamous examples being the Trail of Tears during the period in which Andrew Jackson was president.[4] It includes the largest mass execution in American history—38 Dakota warriors were hanged during the Sioux Uprising in 1862.[5] Policies were so brutal against many Native Americans that the idea of “kill the Indian and save the man” (an ideology which relates to Native Americans being taught at white boarding schools) was considered humanitarian reform.[6]

And then there is our history when it comes to many other groups of people not considered white during their times. Internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II,[7] the Chinese Exclusion Act (which specifically prohibited a group of people; in this case, Chinese people, from immigrating to the United States),[8] and the despise many Americans felt towards Irish escaping strife during the mid-19th century[9] are but a few notable examples of dark elements of America’s history when it comes to the treatment of people who aren’t or weren’t viewed as white. The treatment of people coming from Ireland in the mid-18th century, in particular, gives me a lot of pause, given the parallels I’ve seen between how those from Ireland were treated and the treatment of certain groups of refugees today (particularly refugees coming from places that are majority-Muslim).

All of these things need to be taught in American history, even though such parts of American history are unsavory, and even if such parts of American history may challenge certain beliefs some of us may hold about this country. In particular, teaching such parts of American history may challenge the idea that America is and always has been morally superior to other nations—an idea often associated with American exceptionalism. But sometimes, a truthful looking back at any history, whether it be with the United States or with one’s one family, contains some difficult aspects that we wish didn’t exist.

As to how to teach these elements of American history, I will not comment on that. I am not a teacher or professor, and therefore I do not have the sort of knowledge about teaching methods that are needed for me to give an intelligent opinion on how these things should be taught. However, what I do know is that these are things that should be taught if we are to give the students of today and tomorrow a more complete picture of American history than what some teachings of American history currently provide.


[1] https://www.britannica.com/topic/three-fifths-compromise

[2] https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendment/amendment-xv

[3] https://apnews.com/article/war-on-drugs-75e61c224de3a394235df80de7d70b70

[4] https://www.britannica.com/event/Trail-of-Tears

[5] https://www.britannica.com/topic/American-frontier/How-the-West-was-won#ref1262439

[6] https://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtid=2&psid=3505#:~:text=Pratt’s%20motto%20was%20%22kill%20the%20Indian%20and%20save%20the%20man.%22&text=During%20the%20late%2019th%20century,reservations%2C%20and%20eradicate%20tribal%20organizations.

[7] https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/japanese-relocation

[8] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Chinese-Exclusion-Act

[9] It is also worth noting that the notion of whiteness has since expanded to include the Irish. The subject of what whiteness means is its own topic though, and beyond the purview of this blog post. https://www.history.com/news/when-america-despised-the-irish-the-19th-centurys-refugee-crisis

Coronavirus Update From New York City: January 6, 2022

About the only thing I feel like I can predict with this pandemic is the prediction that things change.

When I decreed in a mid-November COVID update blog post that I will be doing update posts at a rate of about once a month, it was before the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus. Since then, of course, the Omicron variant has become the dominant one, even over Delta.

And this variant is different from others in that it seems more contagious than other variants of COVID. In fact, this is the first variant where a lot of my friends are catching it. A relative of mine himself came into close contact with multiple people who tested positive for COVID, but his tests (thankfully) came back negative. Ditto with my mom’s parents, who are in their 90s and came into contact with someone who tested positive.

However, there are promising indicators in terms of the severity of the variant. I’ve been hearing reports that, as a whole, people are less likely to land in the hospital with this variant than with other variants, and that people who end up in the hospital with Omicron are likely to have shorter hospital stays than they would with other variants. Still, with the extreme numbers of people getting this variant, I remain concerned that this could spread so rapidly that strained hospitals could yet get overwhelmed.

Even if strained hospitals don’t get overwhelmed, there’s the concern about the fact that so many people are testing positive that it grinds important aspects of life to a crawl. So much of what I’m seeing locally in New York City and nationally in the United States are symptoms of that, ranging from entire subway lines getting suspended in New York due to subway crew shortages to airlines having to cancel flights due to crews testing positive for the virus.

Because so much is being slowed to a crawl, I’m of the mind that people and governments should be doing all that they can to slow the spread of this virus, including masking, social distancing (when possible), going back to remote work for the time being (once again, when possible), and really minimizing larger gatherings (as much as I hate to say this as I was just starting to connect with more people in person). It’s tough, and not what we want or desire, but something that I think needs to be done in order to allow vital elements of or society semi-functional.

So, that is pretty much it from where I am. I hope others are healthy.

The Economic (In)Accessibility of COVID Tests

You would hope that, nearly two years into this global pandemic, the wealthiest nation in the history of humankind would figure out a way to make COVID tests economically accessible.

What I’ve heard and experienced secondhand in recent weeks has shown to me that such hope is not the reality. I have seen this for myself in a number of ways, the latest being the tests a family member has needed after being exposed to multiple people who tested positive for the virus.

In the case of the family member, one of the tests was a PCR test at a testing site. Even when you get past the fact that some places expect you to pay them a lot of money to get a test[1] (though the relative got his PCR test for free), there was the issue of the long line to get tested. It was a two-hour wait for the relative just to get tested! Worse yet, I know this story, in terms of how long it took just to get a PCR test, is far from an isolated one. This is a problem from an economic access standpoint because lines are so long that some people may need to take time off from work in order to get tested and still perform the other tasks of surviving as a human being (e.g. doing laundry and cooking food), yet lack the work schedule to take several hours off (once you factor in the transit between the testing site and some places not giving their employees the time off in order to get tested) needed to get a PCR test.

Then there are the at-home COVID tests…if you’re able to get your hands on one. That is a big “if” because I’ve been hearing reports from across the United States of people struggling to get their hands on one of those at-home testing kits. When I got an at-home testing kit the other day for the relative who got multiple exposures to the virus, it cost $24! To put the cost of the kit into perspective, $24 is nearly half a day’s wages for someone who earns the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and over 1 ½ hours worth of wages for someone who earns $15 an hour. The bottom line is that many at-home tests aren’t cheap, and they are expensive enough that some may have to choose financially between dinner on the table and an at-home COVID test—even in cases when the person considering the at-home test has been exposed to others who have tested positive for the virus.

I know that the Biden administration is looking to make more at-home tests accessible, so hopefully the increase in supply will be enough to lower the cost of the at-home tests. I also know that some parts of the United States are looking to ramp up their COVID testing infrastructure so that it won’t take so much time to get a test at a testing site. But for now, at least, many parts of the country have not mastered how to make a COVID test economically accessible for those who earn the least money and those who have the least flexible jobs.


[1] There was one time last summer that I considered getting a PCR test in the same building where I work in Manhattan. When I called the place, I was told that it would cost $290! My mom was also quoted ridiculous amounts to get a COVID test a few months ago—in one case up to $250 for a PCR test, with cash only and no insurance accepted. (For the record, I didn’t pay $290 for my test and my mom didn’t pay $250—I didn’t see the use of paying that much money when I could get a test for free elsewhere.)

Blog Wrap-Up: Calendar Year 2021

As I’ve been doing the previous couple of years, I am doing a blog wrap-up post for 2021.

Much like in 2020, in 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected what I blog about as well as how I blog. As the theme of this blog is talking about injustices we may be blind to and/or blindly commit, there were (and are) a number of injustices related to the pandemic that I decided were worth talking about here. Additionally, as the pandemic situation has changed, for me personally and in my hometown of New York City, I have changed the extent to which I post updates about the pandemic (at times posting weekly, at times not posting at all, and more recently posting monthly about the pandemic). When I started this blog, I did not anticipate that, in some ways, this would turn out to be a personal diary for an area slammed by the pandemic (and slammed especially badly in Spring 2020), but here we are.

However, probably the most challenging thing for me with this blog has been in covering some issues that were important to talk about, yet delicate and sensitive. Topics such as the January 6th insurrection, the trial involving the police officer who killed George Floyd, critical race theory (posts that I literally spent months writing, editing, and perfecting), and more were all important to talk about, yet were all difficult to write about in their own ways. I can only hope that I’ve added at least a bit of insight into discussions about these topics and more, especially in a political, cultural, and social environment that has felt very fragile at times in the past year.

That being said, it’s not any of these posts that have caught so much attention, but instead my post on “Simone Biles, Sexual Abuse, and Mental Health.” That post has nearly 100 likes and over 40 comments as of the time of my writing this and continues to get likes—not that blog post statistics are the be-all and end-all, but when I was writing this post I had no idea that it would resonate so much with so many people. Granted, I think that Biles’ experiences have resonated with many people, and the popularity of this post is only a microcosm of that fact.

Speaking of my writing getting recognition, I should take some space in this post to recognize the fact that Sakshi Shreya at Art Enthusiastics nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. While I do not write blog award posts anymore as I used to, I appreciate the nomination!

I know that I’ve spent most of this post talking about my own blogging for this year, but I do want to thank all of you, my readers, for reading my posts, liking them, and leaving engaged comments. While I don’t want to get fixated on views, likes, and comments, I am always happy to see others engaged with the topics I write about here, some of which can be sensitive and difficult to think about, talk about, and yes, even write about.

And on that note, I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.

I will not be publishing any blog posts next week.