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.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: December 3, 2020

I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have to resume my weekly updates on the coronavirus ever again. But alas, here I am, resuming my weekly updates on this virus.

While there are still many places in much worse shape than my city and my state, we are trending in a very bad direction. Just a few weeks ago the COVID test positivity rate in my zip code was quite low, but now we are at a positivity rate of 6.5%. Given that we are trending in a direction that could lead to many more hospitalizations and deaths (deaths being a lagging indicator but an indicator that’s also starting to go in the wrong direction in New York State), it seems like a good time to restart my weekly updates.

Another reason I’m restarting my weekly updates is that, even though we’re not quite the center of the COVID universe in terms of cases and deaths right now (though if numbers keep on trending the way that they are, I fear we will be in bad shape before long), we still seem to be at the center of the American universe (or at least a center) when it comes to questions over COVID-related restrictions. Two instances where my city was at the center of questions about COVID restrictions were with the closure of schools citywide and the restrictions on the number of people attending religious gatherings in COVID hotspots.

With regards to the school closures, the public schools had a hybrid of in-person and online learning at the start of the school year, with schools in COVID hotspots (or schools with COVID issues) going fully online until those issues with COVID were resolved. However, with COVID rates spiking in New York City, a decision was made to go fully online for now. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has received significant criticism for this move, which perhaps explains why there’s work towards schools reopening again for hybrid learning in the coming days.[1] We’ll see how that goes.

With regards to the restrictions on the number of people attending religious gatherings in COVID hotspots, what happened was that entities of various kinds, from religious gatherings to non-essential businesses, faced various restrictions if COVID were bad enough (based on the test positivity rate) to warrant placement in an “orange” or “red” zone. In the case of religious gatherings, they were limited to 25 people in orange zones and 10 people in red zones. These restrictions were controversially struck down by the Supreme Court.[2] My thoughts on this are…complicated. Personally, I think that it was rather bizarre to have such arbitrary numbers for the number of people allowed to attend religious gatherings, regardless of the size of the religious building (whether it be a large cathedral like St. Patrick’s or a smaller church like the one I go to every Sunday)–it would have been better in my humble opinion if the capacity limits were determined by percentages (33% of space capacity, 25% of space capacity, etc.) instead of arbitrary numbers that applied to religious spaces of all sizes. That being said, I don’t see eye-to-eye with the argument made by the religious institution I am a part of,[3] and by extension the Supreme Court’s argument, that this is an issue of religious freedom for Catholics[4]–the real infringement on this freedom is if we don’t take the proper precautions, get ourselves and each other sick, and then prevent ourselves and others from feeling up to a vibrant exercise of our religion. In other words, the attack on religious freedom, at least in my own humble opinion, is from the virus itself and those unwilling to take basic precautions against it. I would also add that with the existence of televised and online Masses where you can even receive the most important sacrament (the Eucharist) spiritually,[5] I have a hard time seeing how being forced to watch a Mass virtually for the sake of COVID precautions crosses the line from “not ideal” to an attack on religious liberty. Maybe someone can enlighten me though, as I know I have readers with substantial amount of knowledge on Catholic theology.

Between the news coming down from the Supreme Court (just in time for major religious celebrations) and the number of people travelling during the holidays, I fear that these numbers are about to get much worse. I hope my fears are inaccurate.

I do have hope though for New York City. This hope comes from the fact that we know so much more about this pandemic now than we did in the spring, and that as a result we hopefully will not have hospital and death rates anywhere near as high as what we did back then. I want my hope to turn into reality, but alas, global pandemics do their own thing and do not listen to any hopes I may have.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/nov/29/new-york-city-public-schools-to-reopen

[2] https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2020/11/26/scotus-rules-against-ny-religious-gathering-restrictions/

[3] I am a Catholic, and I live in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. It’s the same diocese that was involved in legal challenges to Governor Cuomo’s restrictions for “red” and “orange” zones.

[4] However, I cannot speak for other denominations of Christianity, let alone other religions.

[5] Catholics have something called Spiritual Communion, where one who desires to physically receive the Eucharist but is unable to because of circumstances can receive the Eucharist spiritually.

My Final Coronavirus Update From New York City (For Now, and Hopefully Forever): June 25, 2020

First of all, I want to apologize to my readers for a late post this evening. I was working a meeting related to where I work, and that meeting ended literally right before I started typing this. Hence, the delay in writing and publishing this post.

I should address the elephant in the room: the title of tonight’s post. I was thinking that I would continue these weekly update posts until we got to about mid-July, which would be a month or so into the reopening process in New York City. I wanted to wait to wind down this series until mid-July because I wanted to see whether the reopening process went safely in the city first. I said all of this in a post about a month ago.

However, a lot has changed in the past month.

Namely, there are now major hotspots emerging in states like Alabama, California, Washington, Florida, and Texas. In contrast, my home state, once the epicenter of the virus, is now one of only four states on track to contain the virus.[1]

This weekly update was created so that readers could get insight into what it was like to be living in a hotspot of this horrid pandemic. However, we are most certainly not a hotspot in New York–in fact, we’re likely one of the safest places to be in right now, from a COVID-19 standpoint. Given how much the situation is under control here, I’ve concluded that these weekly updates have run their course.

This is not to say that the pandemic is over, by any means. Far from it. The end of this series just means that the pandemic is under control enough in my area, at least for the time being, that I didn’t feel it was right to continue these weekly updates. Of course, if the dreaded second wave comes to New York, I would resume my weekly updates. I sincerely hope we don’t have a second wave, though.

Nor should anyone interpret the end of this series as a sign to stop practicing the mask-wearing and the social distancing, even if you live in New York. In fact, this series would be continuing for many weeks to come if not for the fact that so many New Yorkers were on board with wearing their masks and social distancing.

I want to thank all of you, my readers, for being a part of this journey by liking, commenting, and sharing these posts. It has been a wild and at times trying journey, but a journey that I am thankful to have survived in good health, and a journey that I’m glad I documented.


[1] https://covidactnow.org/state/NY?s=56971

Coronavirus Update From New York City: June 18, 2020

I hope all of my readers are well today, wherever you all may be.

Last week’s post talked about how we in New York City are in Phase One of reopening. As I’m typing this, we’re on the verge of entering Phase Two, which is expected to start next Monday. It came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I had expected to maybe wait until July to get to this phase.

What does this mean? In short, a lot of places will be able to reopen, including many offices, more retail, vehicle sales, and much more. For details on what Phase Two in New York State involves, you can learn about that here.

The reopening process is by no means over (there are four phases, and we’re about to enter Phase Two here), but we have come a long way. We used to have hundreds of deaths a day in New York City alone from the coronavirus, but yesterday, we had 20 new confirmed deaths. Furthermore, our hospitals are nowhere near capacity like they were at the beginning of the pandemic. We are by no means in a perfect place, especially economically, but health-wise, we’re in a much better place than we were a couple of months ago.

And how is that? How has New York seemingly succeeded in curbing the spread of the virus while some other states have failed? While I still strongly believe that we waited too long to act in New York, we also ended up acting aggressively and in-line with the recommendations from public health experts, especially in terms of strongly urging people to wear masks and socially distance. Furthermore, as we are reopening, it’s being made clear that it is not a return to the old normal, but instead a new normal where we socially distance and wear masks; therefore, I don’t think New York State has thus far experienced the spike in cases that many states have experienced as they reopened.

How is COVID-19 in your part of the United States, or your part of the world (if you’re not in the U.S.)? I’m more than happy to hear updates from my readers.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: June 11, 2020

First of all, I apologize for getting this post out very late in the evening. Today,,and this week, quite frankly, have been extremely busy and hectic for me, and one result of that is a post that’s coming out later than I had hoped.

Anyway, New York City started the first phase of reopening last Monday. What this means is that industries such as non-essential construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade (to name a few) are getting back in business here. For more details on what this first phase involves, I encourage you to visit the section of my state’s website that addresses what industries can open up during this first phase.

I must emphasize that this is only the beginning of the reopening process. Not everything is open–far from it. In fact, different regions in New York State are opening in phases, and there are four phases involved in reopening. I’ve heard that some regions are up to the third phase of four, which means that said regions are seemingly getting close to normal. New York City, however, has some work to do before getting to even the third phase, as we have barely entered the first phase. We are continuing in the right direction here in New York City, but we still have a little ways to go, I think, before we get back to “normal,” whether that be the old normal or a “new normal.”

As to where that leaves me, I have an office job, so I am in what you may call a “Phase Two” industry (the next phase of reopening). What this means is that, as we head towards the end of June, I might have the ability to go to my physical office again, with “might” being the key word. The reason I use the word might is because there’s no rush to get back to the physical office I work in, as the office I work in has discovered that we can by-in-large do 95% of our the tasks from home. Even when we do reopen our physical office, I’m expecting this “new normal” to look different from the old normal.

So, that’s pretty much it from me, and again, my apologies for getting this post published so late today. I hope others are doing well!