Coronavirus Update From New York City: October 21, 2021

I hope all of my readers are well, regardless of where you are living.

The good news is that the rate of infection is continuing to slow down where I live. This continues to create hope that we are beyond the worst of the Delta variant of the virus, at least here in New York City. I do think we’ll have some further hurdles to clear in the holiday gatherings we’ll have over the next couple of months, and I still do not like the horrifyingly high rates of death and ICU bed occupancy that exist in parts of the country as we head into a time of year with these family gatherings.

At the same time, there is another vaccine mandate battle in my city, and this time, it’s over New York City mandating the rest of its public sector workers to get vaccinated, including agencies where vaccination rates are lower. There are some key New York City agencies with low vaccination rates, in some cases in the 60%-70% range. The police department and the fire department are among the agencies with low vaccination rates, at least as of a couple of weeks ago (when I see the most recent data from).[1] I am guessing that most workers, when faced with the choice between a paycheck and no paycheck (because these workers who don’t get vaccinated will end up on unpaid leave), will decide to get vaccinated, if grudgingly (and in some cases, perhaps even angrily) so. We’ll see if I’m right when this mandate is scheduled to go into effect one week from tomorrow.

Speaking of the low vaccination rates among some New York City agencies, I think one thing I’m definitely reflecting on is the fact that some of the agencies with the lowest vaccination rates are also some of the agencies serving the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. Among the ten agencies in my city with the lowest vaccination rates are the child welfare agency (the Administration for Children’s Services), the agency that deals with individuals experiencing homelessness (the Department of Homeless Services), the fire department, the agency responsible for overseeing public housing (the New York City Housing Authority), and the agency responsible for New York City’s prison population (the Department of Correction).[2] I wish that people in the media pick up on that fact, because it is definitely something interesting that I’ve noticed. I can’t help but wonder whether other cities are also seeing that agencies serving the most vulnerable also have the lowest vaccination rates. And if so, I can’t help but wonder why that is the case. Perhaps these musings can be the inspiration for a study from someone, some day.

On a different note, I must point out that where these ICU issues are happening seems to be in parts of the country where vaccination rates are lower. It is not as much of an issue in places like the New York City area, where 40% of ICU beds are still available.[3]

I should also follow up on something I talked about in last week’s blog post: holiday gatherings. My post last week noted that there were still real questions about what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance will be when it comes to holiday gatherings. This week, I can say that the CDC emphasizes the importance of good ventilation and vaccinations as the most important considerations in making sure you have a safe holiday season.[4] So, I guess the moral of all of this is for people who haven’t been vaccinated to get vaccinated.

That’s pretty much it from my part of the world. I’d be interested to hear how others are doing, though!


[1] https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/coronavirus/2021/10/20/mayor-to-announce-vaccine-mandate-for-all-city-workers

[2] https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/coronavirus/2021/10/20/mayor-to-announce-vaccine-mandate-for-all-city-workers

[3] https://covidactnow.org/us/metro/new-york-city-newark-jersey-city_ny-nj-pa/?s=24431357

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/celebrations.html

Coronavirus Update From New York City: October 14, 2021

I hope that all of my readers are safe, regardless of where you are.

In personal news, just to pick up where I left off last week with my parents receiving a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine, I should note that they experienced some side effects that were reminiscent of having a mild case of the virus for a short period of time. However, after about a day or so passed, they felt much better. For those worried about side effects from the vaccines, whether it be with the first two doses or with a booster shot, I hope that this story encourages people to get vaccinated, because having mild COVID symptoms for a day certainly beats getting the real thing and struggling with the impacts of it for months, if not more.

The other good news in my part of the world is that the rate at which the virus is spreading is continuing to slow down. The rate is not slowing at quite the drastic rate that it is in certain other parts of the country, but once again, the the percent of people testing positive for the virus where I lived was paling in comparison to parts of the country with lower vaccination rates. Still, I’m glad that the rate of infection is decreasing, and am genuinely hoping that we have passed through the worst of the Delta variant. If we have passed the worst of the variant in New York, we have gone through it without having our hospitals completely overwhelmed–something that can’t be said for certain parts of the country.

The news is not all good, though: there are still real questions as to how we should all gather with our families for American Thanksgiving, which happens on the fourth Thursday of November. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have final word yet on holiday gatherings yet, but early indications seem to be showing that outdoor gatherings are best (which would be quite cold in New York by late November, by the way), and that if you must do an indoor gathering, there are a variety of considerations that people will need to be mindful of, ranging from mask-wearing to social distancing to ventilation.[1]

Honestly, I’m not going to lie here–I really look forward to the day that we can gather with friends and extended family without all these different considerations with regards to the virus. But we’re not there yet. Hopefully, we will be there soon.


[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/10/04/1043020857/cdc-tips-for-celebrating-the-holidays-safely-covid

Coronavirus Update From New York City: October 7, 2021

I hope all of my readers are healthy and safe, regardless of where you are.

I should start with a piece of good news, which is that both of my parents have now received a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine! Both of them were eligible for the booster shot, and both of them got it just yesterday. They both reported that getting the booster shot was a very quick process, as they encountered no lines. I can’t help but wonder if others are having that same experience, or if there are areas where there seems to be significant enthusiasm about getting the booster (for those who are eligible, of course).

Speaking of eligibility, I haven’t said anything about my getting a booster shot because I’m not eligible. The eligibility issue boils down to one fact: I got the Moderna vaccine, not the Pfizer. As soon as booster shots are authorized for the Moderna vaccine (assuming the Moderna booster shot does get authorized), and as soon as I am eligible for it (something I’m guessing will happen relatively quickly because of my being overweight), I look forward to getting one.

Speaking of vaccinations, the vaccine mandates are now in full effect for teachers and staff in New York City’s public school system. For all the panic over potentially not having the necessary substitute teachers in order to cover unvaccinated teachers on leave, there are 9,000 vaccinated substitute teachers[1] on hand to fill the slots of only a few thousand teachers who didn’t get their first shots by last Friday’s deadline.[2] At least in the New York City schools, life can, and does, go on without the steadfastly unvaccinated.

The numbers I’ve seen seem to indicate that there was a jump in vaccinations as the vaccine mandates came into effect for public school staff. In a matter of just three days, we went from having 90% of school staffers vaccinated[3] to 95% of school staffers vaccinated here in New York City.[4] Considering the jump in vaccinations when there were vaccine mandates for school employees, I can see why the city is now seriously considering mandates for some other groups of New York City employees, including firefighters and police officers. However, I can’t help but wonder what will happen in places where certain firefighters and police officers refuse to get vaccinated, because unless there’s something I’m missing, it’s not like there are substitute firefighters and police officers (unless we were to somehow get National Guard involved here as National Guard have been prepared to take the place of unvaccinated health care workers in New York). Though, perhaps I am wrong and someone can inform me. And perhaps there’s a lot more that needs to be hashed out with this potential vaccine mandate for police officers and firefighters.

Another piece of good news is that the rate at which the virus is spreading seems to be slowing where I live.[5] It’s promising news, and hopefully it is a trend that will continue where I am over the coming weeks. As far as I am concerned, the next potential hurdle to get through with this virus is Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November, for those of my readers who aren’t from the United States), as that is a holiday where there tends to be major family gatherings. However, I certainly hope that we will be in good shape with COVID before then, and that the holiday won’t do too much to set us back with the virus.

There continues to be about 40% of ICU beds available in the New York City area.[6] I continue to remain immensely grateful that I do not live in a part of the United States, or the world, where it is difficult for patients who need ICU beds to get them. I’ve been hearing reports on the news that the state of Alaska is the latest place to go through these difficulties. That being said, I keep on reminding myself that what some of these places are going through now was what my part of the world went through in March and April of 2020.

That is pretty much the update from where I’m living. I’m happy to hear updates from others!


[1] https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2021/10/02/new-york-city-teachers-and-staff-face-5-p-m-vaccine-deadline-but-legal-battle-continues/

[2] https://www.silive.com/education/2021/10/amid-coronavirus-vaccine-mandate-nyc-needs-3700-substitute-teachers-report-says.html

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2021/10/01/90-of-nyc-school-employees-vaccinated-ahead-of-mandate-taking-effect-de-blasio-says/?sh=6912d39176b5

[4] https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-new-york-education-new-york-city-bc516b3c5012bd31e8f9a83cb06de18f

[5] https://covidactnow.org/us/new_york-ny/county/new_york_county/?s=23891301

[6] Ibid.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: September 30, 2021

I hope that all of my readers are remaining safe, regardless of where you are.

On a personal level, the news about Moderna booster shots is big, as I have some family members who took the Moderna vaccine who would be eligible to get a booster shot. Though alas, I am on Team Pfizer so the time has not come (yet) for me to get a booster. As soon as I am eligible for one (assuming the science says that people who got the Pfizer two-dose should get a third dose), I hope to get one, though.

The biggest news out of my area this week has been over vaccine mandates, for both New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) employees and for health care workers in New York State.

The vaccine mandates for DOE employees has been subject to legal challenges, but as of the time of my writing, it looks like the mandates will go into effect at 5 PM this Friday. I hear that there’s a last-ditch effort for the vaccine mandate to be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, though I would be somewhat surprised if the Supreme Court blocked it–Justice Amy Coney Barrett turned away a challenge to a vaccine mandate at Indiana University (not to be confused with University of Indiana), so if that’s any indication, it seems like even the conservative Supreme Court justices have little appetite to take up anti-vaccine mandate cases. I support this mandate, because ultimately DOE needs to look out for the best interests of those most vulnerable in their system: unvaccinated kids under the age of 12 who cannot get vaccinated at this point. A public school system of teachers and other faculty who are fully vaccinated (with exemptions for extremely limited religious and medical reasons, of course) is a system that is looking out for those unvaccinated little kids. There is some concern as to what schools will do when confronted with teachers who remain unvaccinated, in spite of the mandates. While that is an understandable concern, I still remain hopeful that the majority of currently unvaccinated teachers will get vaccinated when push comes to shove, and that in the cases where there are teachers who continue to remain unvaccinated, there will be enough vaccinated substitute teachers to step in. We’ll know by this time next week, unless I am wrong in my prediction about what the Supreme Court will do, about whether I was correct to be hopeful.

The vaccine mandate for health care workers in New York State is already in effect, and there are reports of some hospitals taking a hard line on unvaccinated health care workers, even firing some of the unvaccinated.[1] In cases where there are staffing shortages at hospitals, people from the National Guard are stepping in. I support this mandate as well. Given the tragic consequences of not being diligent enough with how we care for COVID, I personally am led to be on the side of being more rather than less diligent, including with vaccinations for our health care workers. The side of being more diligent means health care workers getting vaccinated, with some rare exceptions.

Mandates aside, the virus seems to be spreading at more or less a steady rate in my area.[2] This gives me hope that we have weathered the potential storm of schools getting started, though honestly, even if it were a storm, at least the New York City area would’ve started with a decent amount of capacity in our ICUs in order to manage it. The fact that we have weathered this also gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the spread of the virus will slow down some more.

Speaking of ICUs, I must continue to say that thankfully, the horror stories of ICUs at capacity still do not exist in the New York City area. As of last Tuesday, only 60% of ICU beds are filled.[3] This stands in stark contrast with the parts of the country that have lower vaccination rates than New York City and higher occupancy of ICU beds (still to the point of medical care being rationed in the most extreme of cases). I genuinely hope and pray for those of my readers in those parts of the country and world where there aren’t many, if any, available ICU beds for other COVID patients.

So, that is it for me for now. Feel free to leave comments below about the situation I describe in New York, the situation with COVID in the United States, and/or the situation where you are!


[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-vaccine-mandate-new-york-hospital-workers-2021-09-28/

[2] https://covidactnow.org/us/metro/new-york-city-newark-jersey-city_ny-nj-pa/?s=23561273

[3] Ibid.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: September 23, 2021

I hope all of my readers are safe, regardless of where you are.

The virus in my part of the world is, more or less, spreading at a constant rate, as cases are showing a stable trend, as opposed to one where cases are significantly increasing or decreasing.[1] I really would like my city and region to get better control of the virus, but honestly, I’m not sure how much of that is a priority at the moment compared to getting things back “to normal” (whatever normal is).

Part of that “normal” (or at least a modified one) is a major event that is pretty much on my doorstep: the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). I am a five-minute walk from the United Nations, so I see a lot of people related to UNGA around me when I am heading to and from work, whether it be press, protestors, police, or dignitaries. Worse yet, some world leaders have largely been ignoring safety protocols related to the Coronavirus, raising concerns about whether UNGA may itself be a super spreader event.[2] I hope that UNGA is not a super spreader event, even more so because it is right in the neighborhood where I work, but I have concerns it may be one.

Another part of that “normal” has been the reopening of schools. Schools have been open for nearly two weeks now, more or less. I say “more or less” because public schools in New York, which have schools closed on Jewish holidays, were closed for one day because of Yom Kippur. Thus far, one school in the city has had to go fully remote for a period of time (10 days) due to the virus.[4] When this school went remote, it made the national news because it was the first school in the nation’s largest school district to have to go remote due to the virus. However, less covered is the fact that there are many hundreds of places in New York where there are partial or complete classroom closures due to the Coronavirus–over 1,300 of them, as of the time of my writing this.[5] To put this into context, there are 1,876 schools in the DOE system, which means that COVID is so widespread in DOE schools that we have nearly .7 classroom closures (full or partial) for every school in the system. I definitely continue to be concerned about COVID spread in schools.

At the same time schools are reopened and in-person again, restaurants are now required to have those interested in dining indoors show their proof of vaccination. And it has already resulted in a hostess on the Upper West Side in New York City getting beat up by three tourists from Texas over having to show proof of vaccination status.[6] I hope that these incidents don’t happen with frequency now that there restaurants whose staffs in certain parts of the country are now required to ask for vaccine proof. But regardless of whether attacks like what happened on the Upper West Side become more common, I certainly hope that the attack I talked about can serve as a reminder, to all of us, to be kind to our service workers during a really difficult time.

As far as ICUs are concerned, 40% of ICU beds are still available in my region (the New York City Metro).[3] This continues to thankfully buck the trend in certain parts of the United States when it comes to running out of ICU beds and even ration medical care (which I am hearing more and more about in certain parts of the country). I mention this so that people are aware that if they hear stories about parts of the country where ICU beds are in a desperate shape, the part of the country that I am in is, thankfully, not one of them. That being said, we were one of those areas at the very beginning of the pandemic, back in Spring of 2020, so perhaps I have an inkling of what people in places like Florida and Idaho are going through right now (except for the whole vaccine part–there was no vaccine available to keep one from getting ill back in Spring of 2020 when New York was slammed; now there are vaccines and many who end up on the hospital were ones who refused to get vaccinated).

So, that is a summary of where things are where I am. As always, I am happy to hear how others are doing!


[1] https://covidactnow.org/us/metro/new-york-city-newark-jersey-city_ny-nj-pa/?s=23371255

[2] https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/09/20/unga-coronavirus-threat-new-york-un-brief/

[3] https://covidactnow.org/us/metro/new-york-city-newark-jersey-city_ny-nj-pa/?s=23261246

[4] https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/health-and-wellness/covid-information/daily-covid-case-map

[5] https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/health-and-wellness/covid-information/daily-covid-case-map

[6] https://abc7ny.com/hostess-assaulted-carmines-uws/11027118/