Coronavirus Update From New York City: April 7, 2022

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

I had a close brush with COVID-19 last week when I learned that I came into contact with someone who tested positive. Things were therefore a bit nervy for a few days because of worries that I would test positive, and in the process inconvenience both my own life and that of my immediate family. Thankfully, my tests have come back negative, so somehow, some way, I remain COVID-free. While I know I have taken a more cautious approach to the pandemic than many, it still remains somewhat of a mystery to me how I have been able to remain COVID-free to this point. Regardless, I am grateful that at least for now, I have dodged this virus.

Where I live, which is New York City, is seeing the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant spreading. This is happening after we experienced some rapid declines in case counts between mid-January and mid-February, as the Omicron surge was subsiding. I don’t know if it’s time to panic quite yet, especially as it seems like there is a lot yet to learn about this subvariant. However, with medical experts continuing to urge vaccinations as the best way to protect yourself against BA.2,[1] it is rather unfortunate that my city exempted certain groups of people (local performers and athletes) from workplace vaccine requirements. After all, all this policy seems to have done as far as I can tell is muddle messaging around how important vaccinations are and empower the anti-vaccine crowd–the last things we need at a time when we need more people getting vaccine shots and boosters.

Speaking of certain requirements being loosened, a part of me wonders how much this increase is due to how transmissible BA.2 is and how much the increase has been due to the loosening of certain restrictions in recent weeks. As I reported in my COVID update post at the beginning of last month, some pandemic restrictions were being loosened here in New York City, so I can’t help but wonder if we’re now seeing the results of letting go of the pandemic before the pandemic is letting go of us.[2]

Those are the updates from my little corner of the world. As always, I welcome updates from others!


[1] https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/5-things-to-know-omicron

[2] Here’s my COVID update post from last month: https://blindinjusticeblog.com/2022/03/03/coronavirus-update-from-new-york-city-march-3-2022/

Coronavirus Update From New York City: March 3, 2022

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

Personally, everyone in my family remained (knowingly) COVID-free throughout the Omicron variant, thankfully (though it’s always possible that one or more people in my family got it asymptomatically). Even though there were some nerves about remaining that way throughout, we got through it. Things are now coming back to a modified normal for my immediate family–returning back to a physical office for me, retuning to church for my family, and eating indoors at places that are either: a) not crowded or b) checking for proof of vaccination (and not every restaurant is checking for proof of vaccination, but more on that later in this post).

In New York City, all the COVID numbers, from test positivity to rate of infection, look so much better now than they did even at the start of February, when I curtailed the weekly COVID update posts and scaled them back to monthly posts again. In fact, the numbers are looking good enough (Or is it that people are sick and tired of COVID? Or both?) that some restrictions are being scaled back. The requirement that you must show proof of vaccination in order to eat indoors in New York City, for example, is expiring on March 7th.

I personally have mixed feelings about the removals of some of these restrictions.

Some of the restrictions, such as the restaurant and gym vaccine proof requirements, felt somewhat moot at times because many such places were not checking vaccination status to begin with (and I get that to an extent because there have been a few violent encounters involving anti-vaccine types at places where proof of vaccination was required; those encounters may’ve spooked some restaurant workers elsewhere, for example). Or, at least in my experiences some (Many?) places were not checking proof of vaccination in New York City.

But at the same time, I fear that loosening up too much, too quickly (even on mandates that are unevenly dealt with, such as proof of vaccination requirements for restaurants and gyms) will result in the most vulnerable being left behind–namely, those who are immunocompromised and families with kids under the age of 5 (kids who are therefore unable to get vaccinated). I fear that we are looking to move on without thinking about the most vulnerable among us as these policy decisions are being made. Of course, as I’m typing this, I recognize the fact that decisions and policies, on both a small scale and a larger scale, are made on a daily basis without keeping in mind those who are most vulnerable. But still, I am concerned that this is the case here.

But those are my thoughts, in any event. As always, I’m happy to hear how readers are doing!

Coronavirus Update From New York City: February 3, 2022

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

I thankfully continue to remain COVID-free. I am grateful for that because, to be honest, even among those I know who have “mild” symptoms, there can still be certain symptoms that linger for quite a few weeks after they first test positive. For example, I know of people who, even though they have mostly recovered from the virus, still have lingering coughs that they are so incredibly tired of. Even “mild” COVID is no fun, albeit it is nothing compared to landing in the hospital with the virus.

Where I live, cases continue to decrease, and the number per cases per 100,000 people is at its lowest level since right before the holidays. Such numbers (as well as numbers when it comes to the percentage of people testing positive) is still relatively high compared to where we have been at most other points of this pandemic, but it is relatively low compared to where we were at the peak of the Omicron surge.

Also important is the fact that hospital and ICU admissions are on the decline now. While such statistics are lagging indicators relative to the number of people who test positive, what has made this pandemic so scary on so many occasions is how it has had the ability to completely overwhelm hospitals with patients. In the case of where I live, hospitalizations were higher with this variant than with COVID last winter, though ICU admissions were lower than they were past winter.

Given the rate at which things are slowing down, in terms of the rate of infection, I will be scaling back my COVID update posts to about once a month again. The pandemic isn’t over so I’m not ready to end these posts entirely, but it seems like an appropriate time to scale my posts back again because there may not be too much for me to report for a little while.

That is pretty much it, as far as updates are concerned on my end. As always, I’m interested in hearing how others are doing.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: January 27, 2022

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

Everyone in my immediate family continues to remain healthy and COVID-free, thankfully. At this point I feel like I know more people who have caught COVID than those who haven’t. And yet, nobody in my immediate family has caught this thing. Granted, my parents and I have been avoiding mass transit, avoiding crowds, avoiding indoor restaurants, and haven’t been surrounded by lots of people–things that many can’t say for one reason or another (and, in all due fairness, things that many are unable to do even if they wanted to for one reason or another).

All that being said, I feel like I am not hearing as many people on a weekly basis saying that they have tested positive for COVID. There was a period from late December to mid-January where it felt like everyone and their dog was testing positive for COVID on a weekly basis. But not anymore. Which brings me to an update on COVID numbers from where I live…

As for where I live, case numbers are still high (higher than they were at the highest of any of the previous surges during the pandemic) but on a rapid decline. Thankfully, hospitalizations are also on the decline, which is important because it means that any hospitals that may be overwhelmed are starting to be less so.[1] At the rate things are going, my hope is that New York City will be in a somewhat more normal-ish situation by about mid-February or so. And when I mean normal, I am talking about leading a life where one is able to do many activities without catching the virus, as long as one took the proper precautions such as mask-wearing and being vaccinated and boosted.

And speaking of getting your booster, I most certainly hope that all of my readers have gotten their booster shots. I say that because of the increasing body of evidence showing that taking your booster will make it much more likely to avoid emergency medical care than if you don’t take your booster.[2] So please…get your booster if you can!

While I was talking about a normal-ish life hopefully coming in a few weeks, the normal I really long for is one where we can see our friends and family without worry of making someone seriously sick just by each other’s presence, one where we can see each other’s smiles again, one where we can feel safe travelling and eating at indoor restaurants and doing many other things we used to take for granted. Not all of our previous normal was good, and that fact may be the subject of a future blog post, but there are certain aspects of the old normal that I long for myself.

As usual, I’m happy to hear updates from others!


[1] https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/coronavirus/ny-covid-hospitalizations-drop-below-10000-as-numbers-improve-quickly/3510043/

[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/booster-shots-effective-severe-illness-omicron-rcna13038

Highlighting the Lack of Care for the Immunocompromised During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s quite something that the pandemic started to get going in New York nearly two years ago, and yet I am still talking about it. Wow.

Anyway…

Just a couple of days before I published my previous regularly-scheduled Monday blog post, a bit of a firestorm erupted in the disability community when CDC Director Rochelle Walensky made a rather callous-sounding comment about people with comorbidities when replying to a question about whether we need to think about how we live with this virus: “The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75%, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities, so really these are people who were unwell to begin with, and yes, really encouraging news. In the context of Omicron, this means not only to get your primary series, but to get your booster series, um, and yes, we’re really encouraged by these results.”[1]

The anger stemmed from the fact that Dr. Walensky regarded the high percentage of deaths coming from people with all these comorbidities being “encouraging news.” The most charitable view of this quote, in the context of the question asked, is that people with multiple comorbidities—some of the most vulnerable among us health-wise—are an afterthought when it comes to thinking about health policy in relation to the pandemic. I saw many who took an even less charitable view than what I did here. Regardless, in the aftermath of what she said, the anger resulted in a hashtag that went viral on social media: #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy.

However, Dr. Walensky’s comments do not exist in a bubble. It’s only a microcosm of a larger issue: the lack of care for the immunocompromised during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consider the fact that the main health policy for everyone, including those with compromised immune systems, is to get vaccinated, even though there is evidence that the vaccines are less effective for the immunocompromised than for others. Even in a study published a couple of months ago—before the more recent Omicron variant, which is better at evading vaccines than previous variants—it was showing that the vaccines were less effective for the immunocompromised than for the rest of the population.[2] Mind you, even for the immunocompromised, getting vaccinated is better than not getting vaccinated, but the study shows that vaccines have not provided the same level of protection to that population as to the rest of us. And yet the main health guidance, including for the immunocompromised, is to simply get vaccinated.

Then there’s the fact that there is a big push from some of our leaders to go back to work or school, even for the immunocompromised, amid this current Omicron surge in many parts of the country. Considering that vaccines are less effective for the immunocompromised than for the rest of us, and considering the push to get everyone to work and school (even said immunocompromised people) on top of all of that, it all sounds like a recipe for putting the lives of a whole group of people at risk, just for the sake of fulfilling the desire of certain other people or groups of people to get back to school or work. The lack of accommodations I have seen for those who are immunocompromised amid a pandemic that makes many of them so vulnerable, when it comes to schooling and work, goes to show the lack of care so many of us have for that population of people.

It would be all too easy, though, to simply point our fingers at government officials far away from where we are sitting and not look at ourselves and how our own actions can show a lack of care for the immunocompromised with this pandemic. Especially with this extremely contagious Omicron variant, every time we don’t mask up when we are in a crowd (a cloth mask by itself is not enough, by the way[3]), every time we only bring our masks up to our noses, and every time we make the decision to force our immunocompromised friends into a situation where they have to encounter large crowds are times we do not show adequate care for that population. The people I saw on a New York City subway train a few months ago who refused to wear masks even when begged to wear one by a fellow train rider who said that she was immunocompromised due to cancer came across as every bit as uncaring to such populations as Dr. Walensky did with her comment.

All these things I talk about show a complete lack of care for those who are immunocompromised during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what is the alternative?

The answer to this question, for me, is another question: What if our public health policy centered around doing all we can to protect the immunocompromised? It sounds like an action centered on protecting one particular group of people, but if one thinks about it, by doing all that we can to protect one of the populations most vulnerable to getting seriously ill or killed by COVID-19, we would, at least in some of our policies, be doing all we can to protect all populations from that same fate, by extension. Perhaps that is the approach to take, instead of the current approach to many things, which is to leave people with various health conditions off to the sides. An approach that, I must point out, is leading to hospital rates nationwide being the highest it has been in this entire pandemic.[4]


[1] You can large a large portion of the clip where Dr. Walensky said this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hVPz-A8auw

[2] https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/covid-19-vaccines-less-effective-in-immunocompromised-people

[3] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2022/01/05/cloth-masks-not-effective-omicron-covid/9091574002/

[4] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-59960949