Coronavirus Update from New York City: April 9, 2020

It’s hard to believe that it has been only three weeks since I started giving weekly updates on my blog on how I’m doing, and how my city (New York City) is doing with the coronavirus pandemic. So much has changed in that time, and so much will likely continue to change. Today’s coronavirus update post will focus on what has changed with me and with my city since last week’s update.

Everyone in my family is still healthy. Sure, some of us struggle with a little bit with allergies, but many people struggle with allergies this time of year. None of us are showing symptoms of the coronavirus, though, so we all count our blessings. While it has been quite jarring to see how just about every aspect of life, from how I interact with people to how I do my professional work, has changed, I remain glad that I am healthy. I do need to make sure to take breaks for the sake of my own mental health though, because both my professional work and my volunteer work is at times very focused on the coronavirus.

With the extra free time available to me during the pandemic, I’m not sure if I have gained any new skills, but I helped build a new website! Long story made short, an organization I volunteer for (Gray Panthers, who are focused on anti-ageism work) partnered with another organization to help build a resource website for seniors in New York City during the coronavirus crisis (which you can find here). I was one of the Gray Panthers who helped put together the website.

The news in New York is very much a mixed bag. Here’s the good, the maybe good, and the bad:

  1. One piece of news is that it appears that hospitalizations for the coronavirus are flat. This is good news because it means hospitalizations are no longer on a sharp rise. At the same time, I’ve heard rumors that the numbers might be misleading because the threshold for taking COVID-19 patients to the hospital is much higher now than it was even days ago. Please note that this is only a rumor I’ve heard, so do not promote this rumor unless you have a reputable source backing you up.
  2. Another piece of news is that it appears most people are taking the social distancing, the wearing of masks, and the suggestions to stay at home as much as possible seriously. Hopefully, people will continue taking all of this seriously. A few people don’t take this seriously, but at least where I am, those people seem to very much be in the minority. Also, since I have readers who might be celebrating Passover now or Easter over the weekend, let me say this: just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean that we should be relaxing on the social distancing.
  3. In grim news, as of today (April 9th), New York State has over 7,000 deaths confirmed from the coronavirus. To put this into context, nearly 3,000 people died on 9/11…total (spread across multiple states). I am not saying this to lessen the significance of 9/11, but to instead show the magnitude of the crisis where I am. This number is likely to significantly increase in coming days, as New York had a record number of deaths from the coronavirus confirmed today.

So, that’s pretty much it for my update and my city’s update. How are you doing during this coronavirus, and how is your little corner of the world doing?

Who is…a Spoonie?

When I first heard anyone refer to themselves as a spoonie, I was, needless to say, confused. I thought of spoons as tools to use for eating a lot of our food, not for something we called ourselves.

I would learn later on that the people who called themselves spoonies were people whose experiences with chronic illness (whether physical or mental) could be described with this thing called spoon theory.

But what is spoon theory?

Spoon theory, a term first coined by Christine Miserandino when describing her experience with lupus, is a shorthand for describing how, because of someone’s illness or disability, they have a very limited amount of physical and/or mental energy to do tasks throughout the day (in other words, a very limited number “spoons”) before they are just unable to do any more tasks.[1] For example, let’s say that you have only twelve spoons for the day based on how you feel and how much energy you have, and driving to and from work is three spoons, cooking for the family is four spoons, and work itself is three spoons. That leaves you with only two spoons, and that’s before we’ve even gotten to hygiene, housecleaning, taking care of any pets, laundry, or any other of the basic day-to-day tasks that many of us may take for granted (before we even get to socializing with friends or anything like that).

This shorthand spoon theory is supposed to help people who don’t have that shared spoonie experience (like me) understand that people with many illnesses have limited energy to do the tasks they need to do, let alone the tasks they’d like to do. Through having that understanding of spoon theory and the experiences of spoonies, some of us, particularly those of us who (like me) don’t have that shared experience of living with a chronic illness or other disability, can become more understanding of our friends and family members who do have a variety of illnesses or disabilities. Learning about spoon theory has certainly helped me become more understanding of friends whose day-to-day experiences with various illnesses or disabilities could be described with spoon theory.

All that being said, I would be interested in hearing from any friends or other readers who have experiences with various chronic illnesses and disabilities. Do you, as well, find it helpful for able-bodied people to have an understanding of spoon theory, particularly as it relates to your illness? If you don’t find it helpful in your case, why not? I know that not all illnesses are the same, so I’m interested in hearing from people who have a variety of illnesses, whether it relates to physical health, mental health, or both.


[1] In this piece, Miserandino also explains how spoon theory works: https://cdn.totalcomputersusa.com/butyoudontlooksick.com/uploads/2010/02/BYDLS-TheSpoonTheory.pdf

Coronavirus Update from New York City: April 2, 2020

As is the case with my previous two coronavirus updates, I am writing this impromptu because the situation with the coronavirus around New York City is just so fluid. It remains fluid, even though the virus has only had the attention of New Yorkers for a few weeks now.

At this point, I’m continuing to do fine, and so is the rest of my family. None of us have come down sick with the coronavirus; given that we’re all still healthy, we’re left wondering whether we already had it and didn’t realize it, or whether we had coronavirus and were asymptomatic, or what. Regardless, I just count my blessings that we are all still healthy, and I hope it remains that way. Especially since everyone in my household knows people who have coronavirus symptoms, and all of us at the very least know friends of friends who either fell critically ill or passed away from the coronavirus.

It has become spooky just how quiet things are around my neighborhood. It is literally quieter than it often is on a Sunday morning, with one exception: the number of sirens we hear. As for the sirens, we hear them all…the…time.

As a whole, the situation in New York City is not good. However, if readers really want to see exactly where in New York City the situation is worst, I would encourage you to take a look at a map published by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that details the number of cases in each zip code as of March 31st. It is not a perfect map, as not all zip codes contain the same number of people; however, it gives people a picture of some of the places where the highest number of people have tested positive for the coronavirus. I won’t analyze the numbers in every zip code, but there are a few observations that people should be aware of, in order to better understand the situation in New York City:

  • I live in one of the zip codes shaded in light purple on the map. What this means is that some areas have been hit harder than mine, but that my area has its fair share of positive tests for the coronavirus.
  • A number of the zip codes shaded in dark purple include neighborhoods such as Elmhurst and Corona in Queens, East New York in Brooklyn, and Morrisania in The Bronx. Many of these hard-hit neighborhoods are socioeconomically not exactly what you call well-to-do. That’s concerning, because it means that the coronavirus is ravaging neighborhoods where many of their residents may not have access to high-quality health care even in the best of circumstances (let alone under the circumstances of a pandemic).
  • Since the aforementioned areas are socioeconomically not exactly what you call well-to-do, residents in those areas who aren’t experiencing hospital-level coronavirus symptoms may not have the sort of access to testing that many wealthier people have. Therefore, I’m guessing that the number of coronavirus cases in the aforementioned neighborhoods may actually be underreported, even though the numbers are already high as-is.

Speaking of access to care, I’ve been telling people not to to treat Governor Andrew Cuomo (my governor), who has suddenly become a darling of many on the left, as a hero. Why? Because in the middle of a freaking pandemic, Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team is recommending cuts in funding to hospitals and Medicaid.[1] I understand my state is facing a significant budget deficit, but a hero would not propose to cut health care funding in a pandemic. I know that’s somewhat off topic (but maybe somewhat on topic, as cuts might hurt New York’s response to another round of coronavirus or some other pandemic), but I just had to get that off my chest.

That’s pretty much it on my end. I hope my readers are hanging in there!


[1] https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/politics/ny-looking-at-hospital-budget-cuts-even-as-coronavirus-crisis-deepens/2347157/

Announcing Another New Blog Series!

One of the criticisms I’ve heard about social justice circles from the outside is that there are a lot of words we use, but do not always explain what those words mean. Some of us hear words such as TERFs, intersectionality, microaggressions, heteronormativity, and many more, but unless you’re deep in circles that deal with TERFs, intersectionality, microaggressions, or heteronormativity, you may not know what those words mean.

The knee-jerk response may be not make the effort to understand what these words mean, and just move on. Or, if your thoughts are more antagonistic to people in social justice movements, you might label one who uses these words as a “social justice warrior” or a “liberal snowflake.”

I propose a different way of interacting with these terms: familiarizing ourselves with these words that may be unfamiliar to us. In order to help familiarize ourselves and others with words or phrases commonly heard in social justice circles but misunderstood or not understood at all outside of them, I will start a new series on this blog, called “What is _______?”

The concept of the “What is _______?” series is that I take a term used in social justice circles that is often not used or not understood outside of those circles, explain what that term means, potentially give some examples to further clarify what that term means, and explain why it’s a term that is important to understand.

I am currently planning to write posts on the following terms (in no particular order):

  • Privilege
  • Four waves of feminism
  • Toxic positivity
  • TERFs
  • Intersectionality
  • Calling out/calling in (two terms, but these terms belong together in a post)
  • Microaggressions
  • Cultural appropriation/cultural appreciation
  • Heteronormativity
  • Safe space
  • White guilt
  • Gaslighting
  • Spoonies

I should also note that I am open to including other terms that I don’t list here. Terms that I learn about during the series, as well as terms that others think that I should talk about, are fair game. On that note, if there are any terms you think I should include that I don’t mention here, please let me know in the comments section below or at my email, blindinjustice2017@gmail.com. Even if you don’t think of a term now but think of one later, there’s no need to worry—as I’m planning on doing approximately one post in this series per month, and I have over a dozen terms here, I will be doing this series for over a year.

All of these terms are ones that are important to know, yet may seem like jargon or code to some of us. By explaining what these terms mean and why they’re so important, I’m hoping that many readers will come out with a good understanding of what these words mean. By improving our understanding of terms like these, those who are advocates will hopefully become better advocates, and those who aren’t advocates will hopefully understand what advocates are talking about when using these words.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: March 26, 2020

Last week, there seemed to be some reader interest in my update on how I’m doing, and how my city is doing, with the coronavirus. Given that fact, I will be continuing to post these weekly updates until the coronavirus settles down in New York City.

I, personally, am lucky economically. I heard that over three million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. I am not one of them, and to the contrary, I am not losing any pay as a result of this crisis. Yes, there are certainly quirks involved with working from home (which I started doing last Monday), especially when your priorities compete with the priorities of other family members working or studying from home. Nevertheless, when I consider the fact that over three million of my fellow Americans are filing for unemployment benefits, I am lucky economically.

I am also lucky health-wise (so far). I’ve had some minor seasonal allergies, but I have never run a fever and have never exhibited the symptoms that come with the coronavirus. Hopefully it stays that way for me and for my entire family.

New York City is not so lucky. My city is at the epicenter of this pandemic. At this point, well over 20,000 cases have been reported in New York City (and that may be low-balling). Granted, some of the reason for the high numbers is because testing has been more widely available in New York City (and New York State as a whole) than most other places. But some of it is because the situation here is genuinely bad. A hospital in the same neighborhood as my alma mater high school reported over a dozen deaths from the coronavirus in 24 hours.[1] Doctors and nurses are getting sick. There is still a grave concern about hospitals in New York City running out of certain medical supplies, including ventilators. The medical system in my area is severely strained. To those who think people are exaggerating how bad this pandemic is at the epicenter, I have two words to say: think again.


[1] https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2020/03/26/coronavirus-elmhurst-hospital-deaths/