Coronavirus Update From New York City: January 13, 2022

As has been the case with the Omicron variant, things continue to change rapidly where I am living.

At this time last week, cases were increasing quite rapidly in New York City. It now appears as if we have potentially reached our peak in terms of cases here in New York. I hear that this is the case for some other major metropolitan areas on the East Coast of the United States. Albeit, it’s an extraordinarily high peak, but a peak nevertheless. The hope is that we can now start to recover from Omicron, and see cases start to decrease.

That doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods in New York City–far from it. With the number of people testing positive and falling ill with this, so many of the essential services have slowed down significantly. We’re still having issues here in New York with things like mass transit running at reduced schedules, EMTs continuing to face staffing shortages, and more. Given that the rate of the virus’s spread has compromised or outright crippled many essential services, all of us as individuals need to slow the spread–in other words, not doing things like going to parties and crowded bars maskless (even if you are vaccinated).

On a personal level, I am still healthy, and I am grateful that I am working from home again for the time being. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that if I weren’t working from home, I would’ve been exposed to COVID. And, knowing how contagious the Omicron variant is, there’s a decent chance I would’ve tested positive for it and have brought it home to the rest of my family. None of that is the case, however, because I am working from home. Hopefully I can continue to avoid this, though some infectious disease experts are suggesting that everyone is probably going to be exposed to Omicron at some point.

My social life is, unfortunately, mostly confined to a bunch of boxes on Zoom (or some other virtual media platform). However, it sure beats the alternative right now, which is to risk catching or spreading the virus to someone else, particularly someone vulnerable like an immunocompromised person or someone who is under the age of 5.

So, that is how I am doing. I hope others are healthy!

Please note that I will not be publishing a blog post next Monday.

Blog Wrap-Up: Calendar Year 2021

As I’ve been doing the previous couple of years, I am doing a blog wrap-up post for 2021.

Much like in 2020, in 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected what I blog about as well as how I blog. As the theme of this blog is talking about injustices we may be blind to and/or blindly commit, there were (and are) a number of injustices related to the pandemic that I decided were worth talking about here. Additionally, as the pandemic situation has changed, for me personally and in my hometown of New York City, I have changed the extent to which I post updates about the pandemic (at times posting weekly, at times not posting at all, and more recently posting monthly about the pandemic). When I started this blog, I did not anticipate that, in some ways, this would turn out to be a personal diary for an area slammed by the pandemic (and slammed especially badly in Spring 2020), but here we are.

However, probably the most challenging thing for me with this blog has been in covering some issues that were important to talk about, yet delicate and sensitive. Topics such as the January 6th insurrection, the trial involving the police officer who killed George Floyd, critical race theory (posts that I literally spent months writing, editing, and perfecting), and more were all important to talk about, yet were all difficult to write about in their own ways. I can only hope that I’ve added at least a bit of insight into discussions about these topics and more, especially in a political, cultural, and social environment that has felt very fragile at times in the past year.

That being said, it’s not any of these posts that have caught so much attention, but instead my post on “Simone Biles, Sexual Abuse, and Mental Health.” That post has nearly 100 likes and over 40 comments as of the time of my writing this and continues to get likes—not that blog post statistics are the be-all and end-all, but when I was writing this post I had no idea that it would resonate so much with so many people. Granted, I think that Biles’ experiences have resonated with many people, and the popularity of this post is only a microcosm of that fact.

Speaking of my writing getting recognition, I should take some space in this post to recognize the fact that Sakshi Shreya at Art Enthusiastics nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. While I do not write blog award posts anymore as I used to, I appreciate the nomination!

I know that I’ve spent most of this post talking about my own blogging for this year, but I do want to thank all of you, my readers, for reading my posts, liking them, and leaving engaged comments. While I don’t want to get fixated on views, likes, and comments, I am always happy to see others engaged with the topics I write about here, some of which can be sensitive and difficult to think about, talk about, and yes, even write about.

And on that note, I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.

I will not be publishing any blog posts next week.

Coronavirus Update From New York City (With Another Hurricane Ida Update): September 9, 2021

With this post, much like with the last one, I felt that it was important to dedicate some space to another update on how things are faring with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in my area.

The subways in New York City are back to normal. I think that amid all the bad news from the storm, the workers who helped get the subways back into functional shape should be applauded for their herculean efforts. In spite of all the water and issues caused by it, subway workers were able to somehow get the subways back into functional shape in time for people to return to work after the Labor Day weekend. We have seen the tremendous efforts of subway workers time and time again over the past two decades–from the work to restore service after the attacks of September 11, 2001 (which happened twenty years ago as of Saturday…yikes) to the work to restore service after Hurricane Sandy in 2012–but it is worth mentioning again.

There are some people for whom life may never return to normal as it was before Ida hit. Between all who lost so much from the flooding and the tornadoes, and those who died from Ida (many of them in basement apartments), there will need to either be no normal or else a “new normal” that looks vastly different from the old one. I am lucky to have not lost anything or anyone I know personally from Ida, but I know that some are not so lucky.

As for the pandemic situation in my part of the world, the metrics are looking like they are trending in the right direction. In terms of percent of those tested who test positive, number of confirmed cases, and number of confirmed hospitalizations, the numbers have actually improved.[1] They aren’t improving quickly, though, so it is no time for residents in my part of the world to get complacent. Especially with in-person schooling starting up again with a bunch of unvaccinated children, and with people returning from Labor Day holidays that in some cases were perhaps not well-advised considering the dire situations with the virus in parts of the country, we cannot get complacent, even where I am. In terms of the children and school, one hope I hold on to is that severe illness from the pandemic among children is rare, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.[2] For everyone’s sakes, hopefully it stays that way.

Speaking of Labor Day holidays, I found it shocking that so many of us acted like it was a normal-ish holiday, in spite of the bad shape parts of the country are in with this virus. It’s shocking because parts of the country are in the worst shape they have been in for months, yet some of us are proceeding as if there is no virus. I think doing that is a big mistake, and now we may have to buckle in for a post-Labor Day surge from the pandemic. This is one case where I desperately hope that I am wrong, though. While I sometimes take pride from correct predictions, a correct prediction here would mean that lives we could have saved were instead lost.

Even if we do go into a post-Labor Day surge, at least there are a decent number of ICU beds available where I am. Fewer than 6 in 10 ICU beds are being used in the New York City metropolitan area.[3] This stands in contrast with the horror stories I’m hearing from other parts of the country, mostly places with lower vaccination rates, where ICU beds are getting filled up. I’m hearing horror stories of how some places are getting to the point, yet again, of having to make painful choices of who to let live and who to let die. And let’s be clear here–this is because of people deciding not to get vaccinated. From Alabama, where 84% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 as of a few days ago were unvaccinated;[4] to Banner Health hospitals in the Western United States,[5] where more than 90% of its COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated;[6] to the CentraCare hospital system in Central Minnesota, where more than 90% of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated;[7] the cold, hard reality is that this is a pandemic primarily of the unvaccinated. This is not to say that someone who is vaccinated cannot get the virus or get very sick with it, but the risk of that happening is clearly much lower for those who are vaccinated than those who are not. So, if any of my readers are unvaccinated, I hope that these statistics serve as a call for you to get vaccinated. And if these numbers don’t convince those who are unvaccinated, I can’t help but genuinely wonder what will result in you doing the right thing. As one can tell from my tone, my patience is wearing thin.

So that is pretty much it from my corner of the world–a corner where the situation is a mixed bag, at best, with the pandemic and the recovery from Ida. I look forward to hearing how others are doing, though!





[5] For those who don’t live in the Western U.S., Banner Health is a massive hospital system in that part of the country, with 30 hospitals and tens of thousands of employees.



The Coronavirus and Ageism

The Coronavirus has severely affected the United States, and the world in general. However, one population that has been particularly affected by this horrid pandemic is the 65+ population, for about 8 in 10 Americans killed by COVID-19 thus far have been 65 and older.[1]

One would hope for a compassionate response to this fact, a response that tries to make sure that the populations that seem most vulnerable (older persons as well as the immunocompromised) are taken care of. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case; instead, some have responded with something along the lines of “oh, it’s just old people.” There are several issues with this “it’s just old people” response:

  • Such comments come across as if older persons are not of as much value as the rest of us and are therefore not worth saving as much as everyone else is.
  • Such comments are also, in a way, attacking our future selves—many of us may end up being older persons at some point, so devaluing older persons is in a way devaluing some of our future selves.
  • Such comments are also attacking of some of our family members. You know what? If you’re saying “it’s just old people” and you have family or friends who are over the age of 65, you are, de facto, attacking those family members or friends.
  • While the virus has disproportionately affected older persons, it’s not just old people dying of the virus. Younger persons, including and especially those who are immunocompromised, have also been seriously affected by the virus, and in some cases, killed. I wrote about one such person—a family friend—in my most recent COVID update post.

If we are to rid ourselves of this “it’s just old people” sort of attitude, we will need to completely change our mindset in terms of how much the lives of older persons matter. In my observations, at least, this issue with how much many people in our society value the lives of older persons dates back to long before COVID. The pandemic may have heightened our awareness of this issue, but the issue did not start with the pandemic.

As to how we go about changing those perceptions, I’m not completely sure, but addressing a couple of problems may help address the “it’s just old people” attitude:

  1. There can be this attitude of “such-and-such old person will die soon anyway, so there’s no need to worry” (an attitude that I know my mom’s mother, who is in her nineties, has experienced herself since before the pandemic). With many people living to their eighties, nineties, and even sometimes over 100 years old, the assumption that a person will die soon is in some cases a mistaken assumption. Even if it’s not a mistaken assumption, it is vital to make someone’s quality of life as good as it can possibly be while they are on this earth.
  2. Who matters most, at least in the United States, feels like it is often tied to who is making the most money. As the overwhelming majority of those 65 and older in the United States are not employed or looking for work,[2] the non-working older population is less likely to be viewed as being of value as the rest of the population. A key here might be to realize that someone need not make lots of money to be of value of society.

Regardless of the source of the “it’s just old people” mentality, it is a mentality that needs to be gotten rid of, for the sake of older persons and the pandemic as a whole. People’s lives may very well count on a shift of attitude towards older persons.



Coronavirus Update From New York City: April 15, 2021

Unfortunately, I have to start tonight’s post yet again in a downbeat manner.

Last weekend, my family lost a family friend to COVID.

It was devastating to learn this news. While it was my dad who knew this person far better than anyone else, it is news that affects all of us in one way or another.

The news also provided me with a somber reminder that nobody is truly invincible when it comes to this virus. This person was barely in her forties and had already received her first vaccine dose–two things that some people may mistakenly think are things going for this person. But nope. While some of us may like to or want to believe that this is a virus that mostly older persons get (not that it makes the disease any less serious because younger persons can carry the disease to older persons), or that this is a disease that makes you invincible even upon the first dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, such things are not the case.

Last, but not least, this death is yet another reminder that this pandemic is far from over. We may like to think that because vaccines are coming to us, the pandemic is coming to an end. While I hold some hope for the vaccines, we need more than vaccines–people need to stop the partying, the masklessness, and the lack of social distancing. People who continue to willfully ignore the public health guidance on COVID need to start caring for individuals other than themselves.

As for what numbers are like in my part of New York City this week, the test positivity rate is at 8.3%. That is actually relatively level compared to where the numbers were last week. Still, these numbers indicate that my part of New York City is far from being out of the woods with the virus, even if more people are getting vaccinated.

I guess the ultimate takeaway, between the news I have this week and the test positivity numbers I just said, is that even if some of us may want to be done with the virus, the virus is far from being done with us. Let’s continue to wear our masks, socially distance, and keep non-essential travel to a minimum.