Coronavirus Update From New York City (With a Hurricane Ida Update): September 2, 2021

While these posts on Thursdays during the worst of the pandemic have focused on the Coronavirus, I feel that it is appropriate that I start off this post by giving an update on how I, as well as my city, are doing after the remnants of Hurricane Ida slammed the New York area.

This may be old news for anyone who likes my blog’s page on Facebook or follows it on Twitter, but thankfully, I am doing okay, and so is the rest of my immediate family. My family lives in a house that did not get any flooding, in spite of rainfall that was over 2 inches an hour. Many other places did get flooding, and severe flooding at that, so I know we were lucky. I was also lucky that I didn’t have to go anywhere, either in the torrential rains of last night or the residual flooding from Ida. I’m especially glad that I didn’t have to use any subways today, because even now, which is well over 12 hours after the storm ended, every single subway line in New York is experiencing delays, partial suspensions, or complete suspensions. Our subways aren’t built to handle that much rain in that little time, and neither is our city. Granted, we’re not used to getting so much rain in so little time, either.

I want to send my best wishes to all of those affected by Hurricane Ida, from those devastated by winds, rain, and storm surge on the Gulf Coast to all who’ve been affected by its heavy rains in the Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic, and New England, to name a few. I hope all my readers in all those parts of the country affected by Ida are remaining safe. And if anyone who reads this has lost a loved one to Ida, I send my condolences to you and your family.

As for Coronavirus where I live, it’s a bit of a mixed bag of news.

On one hand, the ICUs are not packed in my area like they are in some parts of the United States. To show some examples of how packed ICUs are getting in some parts of the country, as of yesterday, 100% of ICU beds are currently in use in the Orlando metro area,[1] 96% are in use in the Birmingham, Alabama metro area,[2] 96% are in use in the Dallas metro area,[3] and 90% are in use in the Atlanta metro area.[4] At the same time, only 55% of ICU beds are in use in the New York City metro area.[5] I could be wrong, but I think what’s going in my area’s favor, at least as far as ICU beds are concerned, is that the vaccination rates are significantly higher where I am than in some of these other parts of the country where ICU beds are packed. That, in combination with a decent level of mask compliance (at least where I am), definitely helps.

Yet, at the same time, it doesn’t seem like infections from the Delta variant are going down. If anything, there are parts of the city where the infection rates seem to be going up. And, with school years around the corner or beginning in my part of the United States, I am nervous about what the beginning of the school year might do to the transmission of the virus, especially since the Delta variant can affect kids. And, of course, kids under 12 can’t get vaccinated yet, so that fact means that kids may be at a high risk of not just getting the virus, but getting really sick from it. I certainly hope that school reopenings will go more smoothly in New York than they have in certain parts of the country. If they don’t go smoothly, we can start to see a situation where pediatric ICUs fill up. But, let’s hope that this doesn’t happen, and that we have a smooth start to the 2021-22 school year. The last 18 months have been trying ones for students at all levels of school, so hopefully we can have something go smoothly, for the sake of the kids, if nothing else.

If anyone wants to talk about how they are doing, how the virus is going in their areas, and/or how they managed with Hurricane Ida, please feel free to comment below.

Please note that I will not have a blog post next Monday, on Labor Day. However, I plan on having a Coronavirus update post next Thursday.






Coronavirus Update From New York City: August 26, 2021

Wow, what a week it has been, both Coronavirus-wise and otherwise!

The biggest news coming out of my state (New York) is that we have a new governor. Andrew Cuomo, who at the beginning of this pandemic was hailed as a hero, left his governorship disgraced and under a cloud of scandal. I know my third ever Coronavirus update begged my readers to not treat Cuomo like a hero, but good gosh–not even I could have predicted things happening in the way that they did! In any event, with Cuomo having left, in comes Kathy Hochul, who served as Lieutenant Governor for just over 1 1/2 terms before ascending to the position of governor as a result of Cuomo’s resignation.

Just hours after coming into office, Hochul did something that Cuomo should’ve done: have a school mask mandate.[1] Mask mandates in schools have been controversial, seemingly because kids and their parents feel they should have the freedom themselves to choose whether to wear a mask or not. However, my take is that, to put it bluntly, people need to care about more than themselves. People need to care about others, and namely, care about preventing others from getting sick–something that masks can help with. Mask mandates are the right thing to do.

Of course, Hochul will have more to do on the Coronavirus than just have the school mask mandate. She will, in my personal opinion, need to recognize the basic reality that certain things that were possibly safe before the Delta variant are not safe anymore. Things like indoor dining, big crowds that aren’t socially distanced (even outdoors), and large indoor social gatherings do not seem safe right now, even for those of us who are vaccinated (since there’s a significant body of scientific evidence showing that even vaccinated people can get and spread the virus). My hopes aren’t high for this, as the only place that I hear has started reinstating some restrictions on such things is the State of Hawaii, though perhaps Hawaii will end up becoming a trendsetter if the Delta variant grows worse.

Speaking of big crowds outdoors that aren’t socially distanced, I should provide an update on what happened to the so-called “Homecoming Concert” that I talked about on my blog a couple of weeks ago. This concert was billed as a return back to normalcy, of sorts, for New York City, a concert where people can come and enjoy some major musicians. Such a concert may’ve seem reasonable a couple of months ago when the virus appeared to be subsiding, but with the spreading of Delta, we aren’t exactly heading back to normal and it didn’t seem like a wise time to have a massive outdoor gathering with tens of thousands of people like that. Well, the concert got ruined, not because of the Delta variant, but because some dangerous weather courtesy of Hurricane Henri (a storm that delivered heavy rain to New York City, though thankfully I didn’t experience any of the flooding that certain other parts of the northeast United States had). I wished the concert wasn’t even a thing in the first place, though, because then we could’ve avoided the non-socially distanced scrambles for safety as a result of the weather issues.

While I thought this concert was a mistake, I am hoping that this (as well as schools, which are supposed to return in the next few weeks) don’t end up being super spreader situations. We shall see…


Coronavirus Update From New York City: August 19, 2021

I hope everyone is healthy and safe, regardless of where you are.

My family, who is entirely vaccinated, remains healthy. We, of course, continue to practice precautions such as wearing masks indoors, not eating indoors, and avoiding large gatherings as much as possible. This is sometimes labeled as living in fear, but in reality, we are doing what we can to prevent the virus from spreading to others, and particularly to unvaccinated kids and the immunocompromised.

However, COVID cases continue to be on the rise where I am, and rise at a startling rate, at that. Just to put into perspective how quickly things are increasing, in my county, we were at 10 cases per 100,000 just a few weeks ago, and now we are at nearly 22 cases per 100,000. Just as concerning (if not even more so) is the fact that hospitalization and ICU rates are quickly increasing again, and increasing to a point that if we’re not careful, many ICUs in our area will be under great duress in the next few weeks.[1] This would be a repeat of situations that I hear are playing out in other parts of the country, where ICUs are getting filled up already.

And this is all happening before school year even starts. The school year starts relatively late where I live (soon after Labor Day), so if we’re going through all of these problems now in New York, I am scared to think of what may happen after school returns post-Labor Day. If nothing else, at least I can take solace in the fact that mask mandates in schools seem to be the trend where I live, unlike with certain leaders (though I am still concerned that masks by themselves won’t be enough). I don’t think that mask mandates are enough (you need social distancing, good ventilation indoors, and vaccines, to name a few), but it’s better than nothing.

Speaking of leaders, by the time I write my next COVID update post, my state will have a new governor. As Governor Cuomo is resigning as a result of the sexual harassment scandal he’s implicated in, we will have a new governor in the current Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul. We will find out in due time how good Hochul is in dealing with the dual crisis of the virus and the economic fallout resulting from it. My hope is that she won’t be distracted by scandals, and therefore able to focus on the crises she will confront.


Coronavirus Update From New York City: March 4, 2021

It is hard to believe that it has nearly been a full year since I published my first post related to COVID on my blog. On March 9, 2020, I published a post explaining why the idea of not going to work when you’re sick is also not doable for many people. It’s hard to believe that one year later, we’re still talking about this pandemic.

The good news is that it does appear that in my neighborhood, COVID numbers are once again going in the right direction. The test positivity rate is at 9.9%, which means that it is below 10% in my neighborhood in over a couple of months. Hopefully the test positivity rate will continue to go down, even as there is concern about the various variants circling around, including this New York variant. Personally, considering that my neighborhood in Queens is a major port of entry for people and diseases alike, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the variants people are expressing concern about have already come through my area.

Deaths also seem to be going down statewide from COVID. During New York State’s secondary peak in late January, the state was averaging close to 200 deaths from the pandemic per day. We are now averaging a little under 120 deaths per day from the pandemic, which is better than we were at, but still a significantly higher rate than where we were at during the summer and fall.

Needless to say, regardless of what certain governors may be (wrongly) doing in lifting certain COVID restrictions, particularly in places where COVID remains a major issue, now is not the time to relax public health measures but instead redouble them. With vaccinations coming at a faster clip now, we are in a position to put a real and hopefully long-lasting dent in this thing. A better future is potentially in sight if we continue doing our parts by masking, practicing social distancing, and limiting gatherings with people outside of our COVID bubbles. Let us not lose sight of that better future.

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.