Coronavirus Update From New York City: May 21, 2020

It is hard to believe that we are already approaching Memorial Day! When this whole stay-at-home thing started, it was still winter; now we’re approaching summer!

Everyone in my family continues to remain physically healthy, thankfully. I also continue to have employment, even as there are millions upon millions filing unemployment claims in the United States. Emotionally, while it’s not always easy, it definitely helps that NASCAR, which is one of my family’s favorite sports, is back on television–when the races come on, they are a 3-5 hour reprieve from all the COVID stuff going on in my city, state, country, and world. I just hope that the races can continue to be done safely, and that nobody gets sick! I’m optimistic, though, because it seems like the sport is taking a lot of precautions.

As for statewide indicators in New York, things for the most part continue to trend in the right direction. Governor Cuomo said at his press conference today that hospitalizations are down and that there were 105 new deaths reported in our state today. While that is still 105 too many, we definitely continue to trend in the right direction statewide. As for New York City specifically, though, while things are trending in the right direction, it still looks like it may be a bit before we start to reopen, as we’ve only met four of the seven indicators needed for beginning to reopen (contact tracing, as well as availability of total hospital beds and ICU beds, are the things we don’t adequately have yet in New York).

My family tends to not be big into travelling on Memorial Day weekend, so I guess I’m not as affected by some of the restrictions as others may be. The lack of an Indianapolis 500 (watching that race is a yearly thing in my household) is going to feel weird though. Yeah, my auto racing fandoms are showing in this post.

I hope my readers are doing well!

Coronavirus Update From New York City: May 14, 2020

I have now been updating readers on how I’m doing, and how my city is doing, with this coronavirus for about two months now! That time has flown by.

Everyone in my immediate family continues to remain both physically and financially healthy. As for mental health, let’s just say that there is a reason that I often try to limit my news intake, even though I value the importance of knowing what’s going on in my city, state, country, and world.

As for how New York is doing, it’s…complicated.

Deaths continue to go down. It’s still horrifyingly high, but when you consider that the number of deaths per day was in the 700-800 range a few weeks ago, it’s a massive improvement that we now have some days when we have fewer than 200 COVID-19 deaths. Many of the other major indicators, such as hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, continue to trend in the right direction. That being said, we are by no means out of the woods in New York City, and in fact we have more recently learned of the disturbing development that there’s an increasing number of cases of children experiencing symptoms similar to those of Kawasaki disease that is likely related to the coronavirus.[1] The children who receive this sickness seem to fall extremely ill, and several of them have died. This story just feels like a new twist in what has been an ordeal (with the coronavirus) that has gone through many twists.

You may be hearing stories about how parts of New York State will be starting to reopen (albeit, reopen carefully). New York City, which is where I am, is not one of those parts. In order for a region in New York to reopen again, that region must be in a satisfactory state with all seven of the following metrics: decline in total hospitalizations, decline in deaths, new hospitalizations, hospital bed capacity, ICU bed capacity, diagnostic testing capacity, and contact tracing capacity. New York City has only met four of these seven metrics, which means that no region of New York State has met fewer metrics than New York City (new hospitalizations are still too high, plus we don’t have enough hospital beds or ICU beds available).[2] Needless to say, it would not be surprising if New York City ends up being the last part of New York State to start reopening.

How are your areas doing? While today’s post definitely offers a mixed bag of news, I feel like I’m in a different world here as compared to other areas, in that the situation is slowly improving in New York City while it is regressing in parts of the United States, and some parts of the world.


[1] https://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/kawasaki-disease-up-to-5-ny-children-dead-85-sickened-by-rare-covid-related-illness/2411571/

[2] At the bottom of this piece from NBC New York, you get an explanation of the various metrics required to be met for reopening: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/new-york-nears-reopening-on-brink-of-another-grim-milestone-as-pandemics-tragic-scope-may-never-be-fully-understood/2414771/

What is…Toxic Positivity?

Today’s post is the next installment in the “What is _____?” series, where I go over terms used commonly in social justice circles that may sound like jargon to some.

Today’s “What is_____?” post will focus on a term that I’ve started to hear more about in the mental health and chronic illness communities: toxic positivity. It’s a term that I think is particularly relevant right now during this coronavirus pandemic, hence the reason for publishing this post today, rather than waiting until later during this series.

Toxic positivity is when there is a focus on positive things and positive thinking while, at the same time, rejecting or minimizing emotions that aren’t happy or positive. Examples of toxic positivity can include phrases and sentiments such as “don’t worry so much,” “it’ll be fine” (especially if it’s something chronic or serious that won’t 100% heal), “just think positive,” and “don’t worry, be happy.” Phrases like these, while not ill-intended, can come across as trying to minimize, invalidate, or suppress negative emotions, which is why the positivity is toxic.

It is especially problematic to suppress the negative when you’re living in a time like the coronavirus pandemic. There are times when suppressing the negative is equivalent to suppressing reality. And now is one of those times when to me, at least, suppressing the negative is equivalent to suppressing reality, because reality is that we have suffered great losses in New York City and not even attempts to suppress the negative would take away that reality.

You might be wondering, though, how to avoid this well-intended, yet toxic, positivity. I’ve heard different takes on this, but here’s mine, for the time being: instead of trying to suppress negative thoughts, show empathy. Instead of suppressing the sadness of a friend who just found out about a close relative passing away, try to be sympathetic to what the friend or family member is going through. Instead of trying to tell others not to worry, be a listening ear when they do worry. Instead of telling others to “just think positive,” be willing to talk through the negative emotions if your friend wants to talk through such feelings with you.

In many if not most cases (at least in my experience), people who struggle with toxic positivity genuinely want to help their friend, their family member, or their neighbor. However, there are times when positivity at the expense of minimizing negative emotions is not the best way to go about things, and that empathy is the best course of action, in my assessment. That being said, if any of my readers have alternates to toxic positivity that I didn’t mention here (because there are different takes on toxic positivity and the alternatives to it), or any thoughts on the topic of toxic positivity, I welcome the suggestions and feedback!

Coronavirus Update From New York City: May 7, 2020

I hope that all my readers are doing well, staying healthy, and staying safe.

I continue to remain physically healthy, and so does the rest of my family. We also remain financially healthy, as nobody in my family has lost jobs due to the pandemic. I have also been able to get two things done on the blogging front:

  • I had a guest post on another blog. Namely, I had a guest post on how segregation in a major city is not just a Philadelphia issue (the blogger has written about racial segregation in her home city of Philadelphia, among other things). Thanks to fellow blogger Kayla for publishing this post, and I encourage you all to check out her blog, Dear Destiny!
  • I now have a page on my blog titled “2020 Coronavirus Diary.” On that page, I have links to all of these weekly update posts on the coronavirus in New York, as well as blog posts relevant to the coronavirus. This page was created with the goal of others being able to see what the virus was like in New York City, an epicenter of it.

While I’m happy these things happened, these are really temporary distractions from the current grim reality. Last week, I made a mention of my mom’s calculation that we have sixteen friends, family members of friends, or friends of friends who have died from the coronavirus. Now, I think that count is above twenty.

My state is continuing to experience declines in hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, and deaths. A few weeks ago, we were losing 700-800 New Yorkers a day. Now, we’re losing 200-300 New Yorkers a day. Granted, every life lost is awful, but I present this contrast between 700-800 daily deaths and 200-300 daily deaths to hopefully show others (particularly those who are eager to reopen before hospitalizations and deaths drop down significantly) that these measures, harsh as they may seem, are saving lives.

Hopefully, these positive trends in New York continue in the coming weeks. On May 15th, parts of the state will start to reopen, starting with parts of the state that haven’t been as severely affected by the coronavirus as other parts of the state (so New York City is likely not reopening on May 15th). At that, New York will start with some industries in less affected parts of the state where social distancing can still be practiced in the work that is done (for example, some forms of construction). Given how badly New York has been hit by the coronavirus, Governor Cuomo seems to be (rightly, in my opinion) taking a cautious approach to reopening the state.

So, when you’re hearing stories around this time next week about New York starting to open back up again, that may apply to people in parts of the state, but it likely won’t apply to New York City.

Do you have any outstanding questions about how I’m doing or how New York is doing? If so, feel free to ask in the comments section below!

Coronavirus Update From New York City: April 30, 2020

As I started thinking about what to write for today’s coronavirus update piece, it dawned on me that I’ve been providing updates for nearly a month and a half. Indeed, I provided my first update on March 19th, and here I am, providing my seventh weekly update at the end of April!

There have been no changes in terms of my own health and my family’s health. No change is good news, as it means none of us have still received coronavirus symptoms. All of us in the household are definitely looking forward to the day that we can see whether we have already contracted the coronavirus and were possibly asymptomatic. That being said, I would like the antibody testing for the coronavirus to get more accurate first before getting a test myself, because apparently, the current antibody tests (tests that look for antibodies to determine whether someone has already gotten the virus) are quite inaccurate and have the potential to mislead people into thinking they were already infected.[1]

While the death rate has lowered overall (more on that in the next paragraph), one thing that has set in, at least in my family, is the magnitude of the losses we have suffered from the coronavirus. My mom calculated recently that we have sixteen friends, family members of friends, or friends of friends who have died from the coronavirus. I think that number has gone up since my mom did her count a couple of days ago. That’s a lot of loss.

Speaking of the overall death rate, while the numbers are still way too high, they are also trending downwards. The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals and in the intensive care units at hospitals are also down. While I don’t feel that New York City is ready to reopen yet, I do find it encouraging that social distancing seems to be working (though I wish we started it sooner…some experts assert that starting this sooner could’ve saved many thousands of lives in New York). If we get a resurgence of this in the fall, as some experts are predicting, I definitely hope that an early and aggressive effort at social distancing can minimize loss of life.

If you are curious to see up-to-date information on what the coronavirus numbers are like in New York City, I definitely encourage you (in addition to reading my posts on Thursday) to consult this coronavirus tracker provided by a publication called The City. This tracker provides you with information on the number of new tests and cases per day, both city-wide and by borough (I’m in Queens). Their tracker also provides you with information on hospital and ICU admissions, among other things. So, if you’re eager to see what the situation is in New York City but you just can’t wait for my next Thursday update post, feel free to consult the tracker.

Before ending this post, I should note that I will have a new page on my blog called “2020 Coronavirus Diary.” While these posts definitely are valuable in the here-and-now for providing updates on how I’m doing and how New York City is doing, I think these posts could also be valuable years and even decades from now when people are wondering what it was like to be in the epicenter of that pandemic in 2020. It’s not something I have up right now, but I hope to get the page up over the weekend.

That’s pretty much it from me. How are all of you doing?


[1] https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/27/reliable-antibody-tests-coronavirus-207589