Coronavirus Update From New York City: January 14, 2021

I hope all my readers around the country and the world are staying healthy and safe. Here are some updates from how my family is doing, and how New York is doing, during this pandemic over the past week.

My family is continuing to stay physically healthy. We’re all missing the in-person interaction with people other than each other (as much as we love each other), but at the same time the caution we’ve exercised has, I think, helped us stay healthy. This is not to say that all people who catch COVID refuse to follow precautions, but I am saying that our precautions are helping.

That’s not to say that practicing precautions are fun and easy. Among the tougher precautions has been not going to church, even though theoretically I could go to church since Catholic churches in my area are remaining open. While I would love to go to church, it seems unwise for me to go to an enclosed church in a COVID hotspot (and I think it is unwise for churches to be open in COVID hotspots as bad as mine by the way). For those from church who are reading this, I look forward to going back to church, but only once COVID is more under control in the neighborhood.

How out of control is it? The positivity rate is over 15% in my neighborhood–high enough that it seems to be of utmost importance to act with caution right now about the virus. Even more concerning to me is the fact that Jamaica Hospital in Queens, the closest major hospital to where I live, reports using 1/3 of their adult impatient beds on COVID-19 patients and an astonishing 73% of their ICU beds on COVID-19 patients.[1] When everything is added up, as of January 11th, 92% of total adult impatient beds are filled at my neighborhood hospital, and 95% of total ICU beds are filled. I think it is important for me to be transparent about these statistics because I don’t think even a lot of people in my own neighborhood realize quite how serious things are–serious enough that we run the real risk of not being able to care for everyone.

So, I beg people in general, but particularly people in my area, to wear your masks, to practice social distancing, to be cautious if you have COVID symptoms, and to minimize the amount of time you spend interacting with people outside your COVID bubble. People’s lives and livelihoods depend on it.


[1] To put these numbers into context, based on what medical experts are saying, these percentages indicate that Jamaica Hospital is under “extreme stress” from COVID-19. Also, I’m getting my hospital capacity data from a National Public Radio article using data from the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the University of Minnesota COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project. This was where I found the data from NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/12/09/944379919/new-data-reveal-which-hospitals-are-dangerously-full-is-yours#lookup. If you want to do a search for how your local hospital is doing, scroll down in the article I link to and do a search for your county.

An Underreported Concern: COVID and the January 6, 2021 Pro-Trump Uprising

As I said on my blog a number of days ago when giving my most recent COVID-19 update, what happened at the pro-Trump uprising last Wednesday was awful, un-American, and frankly, insurrectionist. However, I’m not going to rehash all of the thoughts I went into with last Thursday’s post, because I feel that more people need to talk about yet another concern stemming from the uprising that I’ve heard few mention yet.

The concern is that we also may’ve witnessed a COVID super-spreader event as well.

From reports I heard, there were tens of thousands of individuals at this event. And, based on images I saw and audio I heard, many of the individuals there had just about the worst conduct imaginable from a COVID prevention standpoint:

  • Nobody appeared to be practicing social distancing.
  • Few people appeared to be wearing their masks. This is crucial, as from what I’ve heard, mask-wearing is key when you are unable to practice social distancing.
  • Many of the individuals were yelling, which results in droplets from someone travelling much further than individuals talking in a normal voice.
  • Many of the individuals came from far-away places, which meant that they may’ve already come into contact with individuals on the way to the event and may come into contact with other individuals yet on their way back home.

Time will tell as to whether this was indeed a super-spreader event in addition to being an act of insurrection. But if the behaviors I saw on the news were any indication, I think all signs point toward a potential super-spreader event. If the event celebrating Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court (a gathering drastically smaller than the one last Wednesday, albeit with similarly poor precautions in many ways) could be a super-spreader event, then this one has the potential to be a super-spreader event many times over.

All I can say is this: if there were a large concentration of individuals at the event coming from any particular part of the country, I just sincerely hope that those areas’ health systems are prepared to handle a surge of COVID patients.

P.S. The day after I scheduled this post, I heard news reports saying that some members of Congress may’ve been in isolation during the insurrection with someone who had COVID (and as such may’ve been exposed to the virus). You can find a news report from ABC on this issue here.

Also, I will not publish a post next Monday, which is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: January 7, 2021

This is a COVID update post, but I think it’s important for me to start tonight’s post by addressing the big elephant in the room: yesterday’s violent happenings in Washington.

I live in New York City, so for all my international friends, I am okay and far away (as in a couple hundred miles away far) from what happened yesterday. However, that doesn’t make the violent uprising in Washington okay.

What happened yesterday was un-American. As I said already on my personal Facebook wall, as well as my blog’s Twitter page, part of life in living in this democratic republic is dealing with the fact that your candidate of choice sometimes loses, and dealing with that fact in a peaceful manner. Sometimes, dealing with the aftermath of that internally is tough, and acting with grace is tough when you are upset with the result. I know that from experience because there have been times when my candidate of choice lost. But the American thing to do is to move on from that loss with dignity and with accepting the will of the people, not by invading the United States Capitol Building and disrupting the proceedings of democratically-elected legislators. The individuals who did this were insurrectionists, not patriots.

On the topic of COVID, which is the main purpose of these weekly updates, the numbers are looking increasingly bad. In my part of New York City, the positivity rate has climbed to above 15%–high enough that certain things I felt safe going to when numbers were lower (such as church) are now places I don’t feel safe going to these days. More disturbingly, it feels like, as the numbers get worse, the compliance people are having with mask-wearing and social distancing has also become worse. Americans, and New Yorkers, need to do a whole lot better with their mask-wearing and social distancing.

One of the alarming things to me about COVID is that, as I learned when I listened to a CNN show discussing how the United States responded to the Spanish Flu in the late 1910s, many of the same mistakes we made then are mistakes we’re making now. Some of those mistakes include not following basic disease prevention precautions (such as…wearing a mask) and a president wanting to focus attention on other things (in the late 1910s, Woodrow Wilson wanted to focus on World War I, and in 2020, it was President Trump wanting to win re-election). In both cases, the consequences of our mistakes led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

On a personal level, my family is still COVID-free, thankfully. Hopefully it stays that way. That being said, I did struggle with a head cold for some of the holidays so I was not 100%, but thankfully I am now feeling better physically. Emotionally though, I am definitely still a bit rattled from what happened in Washington yesterday.

Rural Hospitals and COVID-19

Anyone who knows my background would know that I’ve spent most of my life living in a big city. So, you might be asking why I’d take an interest in rural hospitals during COVID-19, and why others should take an interest in this topic as well. There are really three answers to that “why” question:

(1) many rural hospitals were in danger before the pandemic,

(2) many rural hospitals may be in even more danger of closing as a result of the pandemic, and (3) such closures would reduce access to care for many during this pandemic.

Even before COVID-19, many rural hospitals had been closing at an alarming rate. The problem has been particularly bad in poor rural areas here in the United States. The reason for this is often attributed, at least in part, to the fact that some states have decided not to opt for Medicaid expansion, a move that affects the finances of hospitals severely.[1]

With COVID-19, this situation is expected to get even worse, unfortunately, especially in the states that have not expanded Medicaid. That’s not to say that the pandemic isn’t taking a toll on other places, but that toll is expected to be particularly bad in places that have not seen this expansion.[2]

What this will mean is potentially more rural hospital closures, especially in poor rural areas.

It means that many in these places who need urgent care for anything, whether it be for COVID-19 or something else, will need to wait longer to get urgent care that they need, ranging from heart attacks to severe strokes. Furthermore, it will mean that people in the areas affected by these closures will need to travel further to get the care they need, in the process putting more of a burden on the hospitals that do survive (both hospitals that exist in rural areas and ones that do not exist in rural areas).

All of this, in turn, would affect places’ abilities to adequately address COVID-19. I am presenting a rather doomsday scenario because it does sound like a doomsday situation, unless rural hospitals get the help they need.

There are two ways forward from this crisis, as far as I can tell. First, states that have resisted Medicaid expansion should end that resistance immediately. Second, federal assistance to rural hospitals, which from what I have read has been inadequate, should be much more substantial.[3] This is not to say that the situation will be universally great even with these measures because the entire American healthcare system is feeling the strain from COVID-19. However, the measures I suggest above would hopefully slow down some of the financial bleeding many rural hospitals are experiencing.

For any of my readers who live in rural parts of the United States and may be affected by the closures of rural hospitals, you may want to do the following:

  1. See if your state has implemented Medicaid expansion. If not, put pressure on your state officials to expand Medicaid in their states.
  2. Contact your members of Congress (particularly if your member covers some rural areas) to ask them to make sure that rural hospitals are adequately addressing any future COVID-19 relief or stimulus plan.

Yes, I may be a city kid in many ways, but I also know that we need urban, suburban, and rural hospitals alike to be in adequate shape financially as they confront this pandemic. Anything less than that is irresponsible and may result in unnecessarily losses of life.


[1] This Forbes article explains how a lack of Medicaid expansion causes significant financial harm to many rural hospitals: https://www.forbes.com/sites/claryestes/2020/02/24/1-4-rural-hospitals-are-at-risk-of-closure-and-the-problem-is-getting-worse/

[2] https://www.npr.org/2020/04/09/829753752/small-town-hospitals-are-closing-just-as-coronavirus-arrives-in-rural-america

[3] https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/health/iowa-rural-critical-access-hospitals-money-problems-coronavirus-relief-20201019. This source, which is the paper of record for much of Eastern Iowa, has been consistently covering the issue of federal assistance to rural hospitals.

Blog Wrap-Up: Calendar Year 2020

Okay, so I know this is my blog wrap-up post for this calendar year, but in typical 2020 fashion, not even this wrap-up post could be done as normal…

Given the surge in COVID in New York City, I just wanted to give a brief update on COVID here right now, before going on to the main subject of the post, which is the blog wrap-up for this year. Here are some quick updates:

  • Everyone in my immediate family is still COVID-free.
  • That being said, the positivity rate continues to rise where I am, and in the zip code just north of mine, the test positivity rate is approaching a whopping 13%. Needless to say, I still very much feel like we are heading in the wrong direction where I am, in my part of New York City (southern Queens).
  • For the first time since mid-May, New York State is reporting over 100 deaths a day from COVID on a regular basis.
  • For those worried about what I’m doing over the holidays, worry not—I am not traveling during them, and I’m taking care of myself right where I am.

I know this is not the typical way to start a blog wrap-up post for the calendar year, but I figured that it would be better to give a COVID update now, during the middle of the holidays, instead of waiting completely until after the holidays.

Okay, now for my originally scheduled wrap-up post…

Honestly, at times it has felt like just too much to keep up with everything, both personally and blog-wise. I’m guessing that many of my readers might say the same—that it was a struggle to keep up with all that was going on.

And yet, we persevered. We’ve made it through 2020.

In light of all that went on this year in the United States (and in the world), talking about what this year in blogging has been like for me feels a little insignificant. That being said, I would like to highlight some pages on my blog that seem relevant, given all that is going on right now:

  1. My Coronavirus Diary page. This page classified as “Coronavirus Diary” is broken up into two categories: the weekly updates from New York City (something I did for a couple of months when the pandemic was particularly bad in my hometown) and blog posts about injustices related to COVID-19.
  2. My blog’s page on racial issues. While I have some posts on that page that precede the killing of George Floyd, some of my older content is as relevant as ever, in light of Mr. Floyd’s death. Some posts that may be worth a read (especially if you’re someone who’s followed the blog in the past few months) include ones on how institutional racism affects policing, how the fight for African American Civil Rights is not over, and what white guilt is.
  3. The page I have for the “What Is” blog series. The goal of this series is to hopefully help many of us better understand terms that are often used in social justice circles that some of us may struggle to understand.
  4. The page I have for “blog advice” posts. Since I’ve gained a substantial following, I want to make sure that my own tips on blogging get passed down to both current and future bloggers. I will say that this is taking a back seat to my COVID update posts for now, but whenever this pandemic settles down (and I really believe it’s a “when” and not an “if”), I will continue giving blogging advice.

I want to end this wrap-up post by offering a few “thank-yous”:

First, thank you to those who nominated me for blogging awards. This includes Em at Invincible Woman on Wheels, for the Ideal Inspiration Blogging Award; the blog Living Everyday, for the Outstanding Blogger Award; and Keith V at On My Mind Today for the Blogger Recognition Blog Award.[1]

Thank you, of course, to all my readers this year. I know many people are feeling quite fatigued from all the screen time we’re having, so I don’t take lightly the fact that people are using a little bit of that screen time by reading my blog.

A thank you goes to all the essential workers, such as those in grocery stores, those keeping mass transit running, fire fighters, and many others who kept things functioning as best as they can during COVID. Many of these people had to deal with COVID in their workplaces yet did the best they could to make sure things were kept running—without help from our essential workers during this time, it would be impossible for us to see our most basic needs met.

Most of all, thank you to our EMTs, nurses, doctors, and other medical workers who’ve been helping during this time of pandemic. I am grateful for the work you all do. You all deserve better than the ignoring of basic public health guidance that has led to many of you feeling overwhelmed.

Finally, I just want to wish that everyone has a healthy and safe holiday season.

I will not be publishing a post for the rest of the week, in observance of New Year’s Day.


[1] I still need to do an award post, as this too has taken a back seat for now to the COVID update posts. That being said, I do want to at least acknowledge that I got nominated for this award!