Coronavirus Update From New York City: March 25, 2021

I hope everyone is well, regardless of where you are.

In this post, I feel like I have more personal news to share than I’ve had in many of my posts, so buckle up…

First of all, it turns out that I am also eligible for the vaccine now, which I didn’t realize at the time I published last week’s COVID update post. Since my Body Mass Index (BMI) puts me in the “obese” category (albeit not by a ton–if I were 10 or so pounds lighter, I would not be obese based on my BMI), my obesity makes me eligible for the vaccine. It’s somewhat unfortunate my own perception of myself–the perception that I am “a little overweight” as opposed to “obese” (a perception further driven by the fact that I have actually lost a lot of weight during the pandemic)–meant that I didn’t realize I was eligible through being obese until I’ve already been eligible for a month! What’s done is done though, and I am now on the lookout for a vaccine. In the meantime, my advice to others is that even if you don’t think you are obese, check your BMI on the Adult BMI Calculator that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has anyway–you also might be eligible for a vaccine without realizing it.

The second major piece of personal news is that my younger brother is back at college. He had to go home from college like many other students last spring, and since then, he’s had some form of online learning. He is back at his school, albeit with strict COVID precautions (masking, social distancing, being tested twice a week, etc.). While the second half of the second semester of his senior year looks a lot different from what that period of life should look like, I am glad that he can see his friends in a safe manner again. The college my younger brother goes to managed to control the spread of the virus during the first half of the semester (when a different group of students were on campus), so I am hopeful that he and his friends will have a healthy second half of the second semester.

A third, and final, major piece of personal news is that I might be going back to a physical office again in early May. A lot of details still need to be ironed out though, so we’ll need to see what happens. Personally, while my initial feeling was apprehension, I am also hopeful that whenever I come back to the physical office I work at, things will work out well.

In non-personal news, the test positivity rate in my part of New York City has decreased substantially, all the way down to just over 8.5%! For a number of days, I was nervous because we weren’t getting any data reported at all on the test positivity rates, but now those numbers are getting reported and the numbers themselves are promising currently. Of course, that can quickly change with one big ill-advised party in the area, but for now, I’ll be happy with the progress on the test positivity front.

That’s it for me, for now at least. I hope others are well!

Addressing the Shootings in the Atlanta Area

In my COVID update post last Thursday, I spent the first part of the post talking about the shootings that happened in three Atlanta-area spas. However, I think it is important to dedicate a full post to the shootings, considering some of the discourse that’s existed in the shootings’ aftermath.

First of all, my heart goes out to the families of the victims. No platitudes or words can ever possibly erase the fact that Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue should not have died in shootings.

As of the time I published this post, the exact motive of the shooting remains unknown, but much speculation about the shooting seems to center around ethnicity (most of the people killed were women of Asian descent, four of whom were of Korean descent) and the perpetrator’s alleged sex addiction.

But, regardless of whether the motive is ethnicity-related, sex addiction-related, some combination of the two, or neither one, we need to talk about two of the big issues raised in light of the shooting: anti-Asian hate and sex addiction itself (also known as compulsive sexual behavior[1]).

With regards to anti-Asian hate, while there is still an investigation into how much that was a motive of the shooter, what cannot be denied is that anti-Asian hate crimes have been sharply on the rise in the past year. In 16 of America’s largest cities, the targeting of Asian people has increased by 150% in the past year.[2] Even if the current investigations happen to find that anti-Asian bias wasn’t a motive by the shooter, it does not take away from the fact that anti-Asian speech and violence are a problem in this country, and a problem that is exacerbated by the fact that too many in American society (including the previous President of the United States) have either scapegoated people of Asian descent for COVID or fanned the flames of scapegoating people of Asian descent.[3] Regardless of the shooter’s motive, anti-Asian bias is an issue we need to grapple with.

Speaking of anti-Asian bias, and hate crimes in general, while the statistics indicate that anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise, the reporting of hate crimes in the United States is not what it should be. The reason is that data on hate crimes depends on the voluntary submission of data from local police agencies—something that results in severe undercounting of hate crimes.[4] This is an issue that needs to be discussed more in order to truly understand the extent of anti-Asian bias, which in turn could better inform decisions on how to address said hate. The underreporting of hate crimes frankly requires its own blog post, and I plan on talking about this issue more in next week’s blog post.

As for the issue of sex addiction/compulsive sexual behavior, I am deeply concerned that this shooting will end up stigmatizing people who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior in general. This is an issue some people struggle with, but it is not an issue that necessarily results in someone becoming violent as this shooter became violent. In fact, a doctor interviewed by USA Today who’s been treating people with compulsive sexual behavior for over 30 years says that under 1% of his patients have committed any violent act.[5] In spite of that, the most famous example of someone allegedly battling this sort of issue is this mass shooter, so I am therefore concerned that the shooting could create an issue for people battling compulsive sexual behavior.

Yet, at the same time, there is a history of the notion of sex addiction being used by people, usually white men, to try and absolve themselves for their responsibility with certain actions, especially actions that are misogynistic.[6] As such, while it is completely possible that this sort of issue played a role in the shootings, we should be careful not to automatically assume that issues with compulsive sexual behavior/sex addiction were a motive, in spite of what the shooter has said about a sex addiction playing a role in his motivation for killing people.

There is so much more that could be talked about, but given that investigations are ongoing as of the time I’m publishing this post, I will wait to say too much more until the current investigations run their course. That being said, if there is more that I feel needs to be said once that happens, I will be sure to do so.

[1] Based on the literature I’ve read from both the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes on Health, there seems to be some question about whether compulsive sexual behavior (which does exist) is clinically an addiction: I am not qualified to answer this question, but what I will say is that if the scientific experts at the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes on Health both believe that some people struggle with compulsive sexual behavior, I am also inclined to believe that some people struggle with compulsive sexual behavior. Additionally, since there is some question as to whether compulsive sexual behavior is clinically an addiction, I’m going to call it “compulsive sexual behavior” as much as I can in this blog post.


[3] I talked about this in my post a couple of weeks ago about scapegoating groups during a crisis:




Coronavirus Update From New York City: March 18, 2021

It is only appropriate that I start my post tonight by talking about the recent shootings that happened in three Atlanta-area spas.

While there are still investigations into the exact motive(s) of the shooter, the fact that six of the eight people killed were Asian women is striking. It is especially striking in light of the wave of anti-Asian hate crimes that has happened in this country in the past year. While the shooter himself blames the shooting on his sex addiction (an addiction he “wanted to eliminate”) and not on anti-Asian hate, I would not be surprised if the perpetrator had an unconscious anti-Asian bias. Regardless of whether anti-Asian bias was a factor in these shootings, we are overdue for a reckoning on how scapegoating people of Asian descent during COVID has led to a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes.

I do have some positive news to report this week, which is that my parents have received their second vaccine doses! They received their second doses yesterday, so they should now be fully vaccinated. They do have some side effects, but side effects that beat having COVID. There is obviously some question as to how long the vaccine doses last, but for now, at least they are fully vaccinated.

There is also some question as to when exactly I will be vaccinated or when exactly my brother will be vaccinated. Everyone should be eligible for the vaccines by May 1st, per President Biden, but just because everyone will be eligible for a vaccine doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to get a vaccine. We shall see. What I will say, though, is that as soon as I can get a vaccine, I will want to get one.

It’s rather ironic that their second vaccinations are coming nearly one year after my first COVID update post–a post that had a downbeat attitude at the time because my city was in danger of running out of medical supplies. It’s nice that this post can be at least somewhat more upbeat on the public health front

That’s not to say that everything is rosy, for the test positivity rate stubbornly remains just above 10%–a rate it’s been at for the past few weeks, it feels like. I’m hoping that it’s a number that will go down again as more people get vaccinated, but for now, the test positivity numbers are stubborn. It’s a number that reminds me that while I hope for some degree of normality to come back, there’s work to do in preventing the spread of this before we get back to normal, even if it is a modified normal.

Additionally, nearly 30% of hospital beds total and over half of ICU beds at the hospital closest to where I live are occupied with COVID patients–numbers that are still considered high to extreme stress from COVID, albeit not quite as much stress as the hospital felt a few weeks ago.

Before I close this post, I want to issue a call to action to all of my readers. The call to action is that, once you receive your vaccines, let others know that you have received them, with the intention of communicating to others that the vaccines are safe. There is still some vaccine hesitancy around, and I think it is important to address that hesitancy in the circles we’re in, to the best of our abilities.

What Are…the Four Waves of Feminism?

The word “feminism” itself tends not to be viewed as social justice jargon, albeit it’s often misunderstood. Feminism is sometimes misunderstood as a sort of “bra-burning/destroy-all-men” mentality.

However, that is far from the truth. On this Women’s History Month in the United States, I think it is important to distance ourselves from that false narrative about feminism.

The reality is that feminism is the advocacy for women to have equal rights to men. So no, it does not involve hating or destroying men.

However, what is sometimes less understood is the different phases of advocacy for women over the years in the United States, also known as the four waves of feminism. It’s also less understood why it’s so important to understand those waves, and why it’s also so important to think beyond the second wave of feminism.

These phases of advocacy for women, also known as “waves of feminism,” are divided as such:

The first wave of feminism is typically regarded as the phase of advocacy that focused on greater women’s involvement in American government, particularly the right to vote. It is worth noting, though, that the focus on the greater involvement of women focused on white women, not on women of color. This phase went from about 1848 (the year of the Seneca Falls Convention, a women’s rights convention where the right to vote became a major issue) to the ratification of the women’s right to vote in the United States (also known as the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution) in 1920.

The second wave of feminism said that it was not enough for women to have the right to vote, but that it was also important to advocate for social, political, and economic equality for women. This phase of feminism went from the 1960s to about the early 1990s (approximately). Betty Friedan’s book, titled The Feminine Mystique, has often been credited with starting this second wave of feminism. This wave of feminism also included advocacy for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was designed for people in the United States to have equal legal rights regardless of sex.

However, the second wave of feminism was criticized for predominantly advocating for middle class white women, while leaving behind poor women, women of color, women in the LGBTQ+ community, women with disabilities, and women from other marginalized groups. This criticism led to the third wave of feminism, which placed emphasis on advocating not just for economically upwardly mobile white women, but women who were also marginalized for other facets of their identity. In this wave of feminism, which many say started in the early 1990s and ended around 2012 (though I think this wave is in many ways still present today),[1] there was a lot of emphasis on intersectional feminism—advocacy for the equal rights of women that takes into account how that advocacy should address the inequalities of women who experience overlapping and intersecting forms of discrimination in addition to discrimination for being a woman (example: discrimination for being an immigrant and a woman). 

The fourth wave of feminism, which many say started in 2012 and continues today, focuses on online tools, such as blogging and social media, to highlight inequalities that many women face. Through this, we see the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements on social media, the increased blogging about sexism, and personal stories of various forms of sexism that women have faced. 

It’s important to understand these different waves of feminism for a couple of reasons. First, it is good to have at least a working historical knowledge of the different eras of feminist advocacy, regardless of what your feelings on feminism are. Second, it’s generally good to understand what people are talking about when they’re referring to a particular wave of feminism. Finally, it’s especially important to understand the importance of third-wave and fourth-wave feminism, because without that understanding, it is difficult to appreciate the importance of advocating for all women and taking that advocacy to the public sphere.

So, next time you hear about third-wave or fourth-wave feminism, you will know what you’re talking about. If you’re accused of not moving beyond the second wave of feminism, you know that your feminism needs to do a better job of including women who are marginalized for other parts of their identity. And if you hear about the #MeToo movement, you know that you are hearing about the current, and fourth, wave of feminism.

[1] While, by many definitions, we’re into the fourth wave of feminism, the there’s still lots of emphasis on intersectional feminism; in other words, third-wave feminism.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: March 11, 2021

I just listened to President Biden’s address to the nation on the COVID relief legislation he signed, as well as on the pandemic as a whole. As such, now seems as good a time as any to publish my weekly COVID update.

Ironically, the day I am posting this is also the day last year that I had my last relatively “normal” day in terms of heading to a work office, working at that office, and heading home. The following day, which was Thursday, March 12th, things were changing a lot. And, just a few days later, the whole world around me was getting topsy-turvy.

Since then, a lot of us around the United States and around the world have been through so much pain and loss, through loved ones and friends and friends of friends getting gravely ill or dying of COVID-19. The change of lifestyle has been jarring, but what really gets to me is the number of people who’ve been so severely affected by this pandemic. What also gets to me is the fact that, if we followed the public health guidance as a society, many of those deaths could have been avoided.

Now that I’ve ended my mini-rant on the anniversary of things starting to change, you all might be happy to know that my parents are getting their second COVID vaccines before long! I haven’t gotten my first dose yet, but I’m also much younger than they are and don’t have any conditions or occupations that justify my getting the vaccine at this stage. I’m really happy that my parents will be fully vaccinated soon, though. Hopefully, as more of us get vaccinated, and as enough of us hopefully take the precautions needed, we can maybe get to a “modified normal” before long where we can see family members and close friends. One can only hope.

This is a hope that President Biden shares. He thinks that with enough vaccination and cooperation with public health guidance, we could be able to gather around and celebrate on Independence Day, which is July 4th for my readers from outside the United States. Given the rebellious nature of some individuals and states, I am skeptical as to whether we will actually get there. Perhaps America will prove my skepticism wrong.

The test positivity rate for the virus is at just under 10% in my part of New York City, which is more or less stable compared to where we were last week. That seems to be a microcosm of the larger nationwide trend, which is also indicating that the number of positive cases for the virus has also plateaued from what I have heard. While that plateau is at a much lower level than where we were during the awful holiday season (in terms of number of cases and deaths), we really do need to try and get the infection rate even lower.

With all that being said, what are the memories that you, my readers, have from the first days of COVID (if they aren’t too wounding to share)? Obviously I have a lot of memories (some of which I posted here and some of which I didn’t), but I think it’s important to give voice to the stories of others too.