Coronavirus Update From New York City: January 6, 2022

About the only thing I feel like I can predict with this pandemic is the prediction that things change.

When I decreed in a mid-November COVID update blog post that I will be doing update posts at a rate of about once a month, it was before the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus. Since then, of course, the Omicron variant has become the dominant one, even over Delta.

And this variant is different from others in that it seems more contagious than other variants of COVID. In fact, this is the first variant where a lot of my friends are catching it. A relative of mine himself came into close contact with multiple people who tested positive for COVID, but his tests (thankfully) came back negative. Ditto with my mom’s parents, who are in their 90s and came into contact with someone who tested positive.

However, there are promising indicators in terms of the severity of the variant. I’ve been hearing reports that, as a whole, people are less likely to land in the hospital with this variant than with other variants, and that people who end up in the hospital with Omicron are likely to have shorter hospital stays than they would with other variants. Still, with the extreme numbers of people getting this variant, I remain concerned that this could spread so rapidly that strained hospitals could yet get overwhelmed.

Even if strained hospitals don’t get overwhelmed, there’s the concern about the fact that so many people are testing positive that it grinds important aspects of life to a crawl. So much of what I’m seeing locally in New York City and nationally in the United States are symptoms of that, ranging from entire subway lines getting suspended in New York due to subway crew shortages to airlines having to cancel flights due to crews testing positive for the virus.

Because so much is being slowed to a crawl, I’m of the mind that people and governments should be doing all that they can to slow the spread of this virus, including masking, social distancing (when possible), going back to remote work for the time being (once again, when possible), and really minimizing larger gatherings (as much as I hate to say this as I was just starting to connect with more people in person). It’s tough, and not what we want or desire, but something that I think needs to be done in order to allow vital elements of or society semi-functional.

So, that is pretty much it from where I am. I hope others are healthy.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: December 16, 2021

It has been a month or so since I made my previous COVID update post. A lot has happened with the pandemic globally since then!

In late November, the Omicron variant of the virus was found in South Africa. Since then, it has been detected in many other countries, including mine: the United States. In fact, it has spread enough that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 13% of all cases in New York and New Jersey are from Omicron.[1] The Delta variant is still the dominant one, both locally and nationally, but Omicron is spreading quickly, especially in my part of the United States.

I still feel like there is so much to learn about Omicron, and perhaps that relative lack of knowledge, even now, is leading to some level of fear. The indications we have received from a major South African study is that this variant is more resistant to vaccines than previous variants yet seems to overall result in less serious infections.[2] However, there is still a lot to learn as we are in the early days of this variant. Furthermore, it must be pointed out that even with the increased vaccine resistance, two doses of the Pfizer vaccine may offer 70% protection against hospitalizations from the virus.[3]

The aforementioned statistic creates some hope that maybe, just maybe being fully vaccinated and boosted will provide greater protection yet against serious infections from the virus. But we will need to wait and see.

Of course, vaccination is not the only layer of protection. Things like masks and good indoor ventilation can act as further layers of protection against the virus as many of us attempt to achieve, as one priest I heard recently call it, a “fragile normal.” And it is very fragile, as many of us are trying to do the activities we did before the pandemic, such as visit family, without trying to endanger others around us by getting the virus. With Omicron, that normal may be as fragile as ever.

Part of that fragile normal includes your needing to wear a mask in New York State if you are in a place that is not your home and does not require full vaccination proof (like a grocery store).[4] All I will say there is that I’m grateful that I don’t live in one of the parts of New York State where counties are saying that they won’t enforce the mandate, and where many if not most people are anti-masking.

But that is not the only thing I’m grateful for this holiday season. I’m also grateful that the vaccination rate is higher where I am than in many other parts of the country. And I’m grateful that the friends I have and the groups I am a part of are, by-in-large, pro-vaccine. I know some are not so lucky.

Speaking of holidays, I will not be writing a regular Monday blog post next week, but I will do my yearly wrap-up blog post a week from today.



[3] Ibid.


Coronavirus Update From New York City: November 11, 2021

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

I will get my booster Moderna shot tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting the booster shot! Though, admittedly, I am looking much less forward to seeing what the side effects of the booster will be. All I will say is that I’m glad that I’m getting the shot on a Friday evening, so that I have the weekend to recover from whatever the side effects may be. In my Coronavirus update post next week, I will make sure to talk about the experience of getting a booster shot, in terms of the shot itself as well as any side effects I may have.

The rate at which the virus is spreading, which appeared to be slowing down for quite some time, appears to have at best stalled out and is in real danger of going on the rise again.[1] With the holidays right around the corner, it to me raises concern that the virus is in a position to spread even more, yet again. Which means more deaths.

In more positive news, the controversial vaccine mandate among New York City employees that I’ve been talking about in recent weeks appears to be working. And when I mean working, what I mean is that we’ve seen significant increases in the number of people in key New York City government agencies getting vaccinated. Namely, vaccination rates among police, fire, and sanitation workers have increased significantly.[2] While I absolutely hope that more people in local government will do the right thing and get vaccinated, I am also glad to see that the mandate, controversial as it may be among some, is working.

That is pretty much it, in terms of updates from where I am. I hope others are well!



Coronavirus Update From New York City: November 4, 2021

I hope all of my readers are healthy and safe, regardless of where you are living. I also wish a Happy Diwali to all who celebrate it.

In personal news, I have scheduled my appointment to get a vaccine booster shot. My second Moderna vaccine dose was in late April, so between how long it’s been since I got my second shot and the fact that I am overweight (or at least have a Body Mass Index high enough that I’m considered to be part of a population vulnerable to the pandemic), I was eligible to schedule an appointment to get a booster shot. I will get that booster shot on Friday, November 12th. In the COVID update post following my booster shot on the 12th, I will report on how the booster shot experience went (including talk about any side effects I have).

Also on a personal note, I am getting back, slowly but surely, into the swing of doing certain things that I did before the pandemic, such as eating indoors at a restaurant (albeit at restaurants that are relatively empty inside and have good ventilation so as to minimize risk) and attending an indoor gathering with several people not in my COVID “bubble.” While the individual experiences have gone fine so far, I must say that oh boy–it is an adjustment mentally to start getting back into things that I did before the pandemic! My guess is that over time, I will find myself continuing to readjust to things that I did before the pandemic on a regular basis, even if the pandemic situation (with a low level of spread, and a low test positivity rate) in New York City is such that it is safe for me to ease my way back into some activities. All I can say to others in a similar place is to be patient with yourself.

The vaccine mandate for New York City workers is now in effect. And, for all the complaining about the mandate, it has been extremely successful in terms of getting more people vaccinated. The vaccination rates went from 58% to 77% with the fire department, 70% to 85% with the police department, and from 62% to 83% with the sanitation department over the span of a couple of weeks. Among the entire New York City workforce, the vaccination rate has increased by 14% over a span of 10 days.[1] At least in New York City, mandates get people vaccinated.

However, as one can tell by looking at the numbers I just cited, there is still a portion of workers in the aforementioned departments (as well as a few others) that are unvaccinated and are therefore on unpaid leave. In those agencies, there are concerns about staffing shortages. I remain optimistic that those concerns will be short-lived, because I believe that when the reality sets in and people realize that the mandates are not going away (a reality that may set in among some people when they end up missing their first paycheck for unpaid leave because they decided not to get a vaccine shot), I’m guessing that even more people will get a vaccine shot. We’ll see if I’m correct to be optimistic.

That’s pretty much it on my end. I will be interested to hear how others are doing, though!


Coronavirus Update From New York City: October 28, 2021

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

The rate at which the virus is spreading is continuing to slow down. This mirrors what we’ve been seeing across the United States, where the spread of the Delta variant has slowed down. What this also means is that we continue to have a good percentage of ICU beds available in the New York City area (steadily at or near 40% of beds available).

Even though the spread of Delta has slowed down, there continues to be parts of the United States where the pandemic situation is quite serious. I think of those in Idaho, where fewer than half of the people in that state are vaccinated and nearly 9 in 10 ICU beds filled.[1] I think of places like the Metropolitan Houston Area in Texas, where over 9 in 10 ICU beds are filled.[2] The worst of the Delta variant may be behind many of us in many ways, but we are still facing the consequences of the variant (and low vaccination rates in many areas that allowed it to thrive).

What continues to grab headlines in New York City, when it comes to the virus, is the battle over vaccine mandates. I talked in my post last week about the debate over said mandates among all New York City employees. As of the time of my writing this post, we appear on course for the mandate to start in the coming days. There are protests over the mandates, yet I continue to remain hopeful that when all is set and done, people will choose their paychecks over all else. That is certainly what Mayor Bill de Blasio is betting on. And if the bet goes wrong, we could be in for a turbulent time with staffing shortages in New York City agencies that serve some of the most vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, those having fires, and those in jail.

That’s pretty much it for me, for now. I’m very much interested in hearing how others are going along!