Coronavirus Update From New York City: October 14, 2021

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

In personal news, just to pick up where I left off last week with my parents receiving a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine, I should note that they experienced some side effects that were reminiscent of having a mild case of the virus for a short period of time. However, after about a day or so passed, they felt much better. For those worried about side effects from the vaccines, whether it be with the first two doses or with a booster shot, I hope that this story encourages people to get vaccinated, because having mild COVID symptoms for a day certainly beats getting the real thing and struggling with the impacts of it for months, if not more.

The other good news in my part of the world is that the rate at which the virus is spreading is continuing to slow down. The rate is not slowing at quite the drastic rate that it is in certain other parts of the country, but once again, the the percent of people testing positive for the virus where I lived was paling in comparison to parts of the country with lower vaccination rates. Still, I’m glad that the rate of infection is decreasing, and am genuinely hoping that we have passed through the worst of the Delta variant. If we have passed the worst of the variant in New York, we have gone through it without having our hospitals completely overwhelmed–something that can’t be said for certain parts of the country.

The news is not all good, though: there are still real questions as to how we should all gather with our families for American Thanksgiving, which happens on the fourth Thursday of November. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have final word yet on holiday gatherings yet, but early indications seem to be showing that outdoor gatherings are best (which would be quite cold in New York by late November, by the way), and that if you must do an indoor gathering, there are a variety of considerations that people will need to be mindful of, ranging from mask-wearing to social distancing to ventilation.[1]

Honestly, I’m not going to lie here–I really look forward to the day that we can gather with friends and extended family without all these different considerations with regards to the virus. But we’re not there yet. Hopefully, we will be there soon.


Coronavirus Update From New York City: October 7, 2021

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

I should start with a piece of good news, which is that both of my parents have now received a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine! Both of them were eligible for the booster shot, and both of them got it just yesterday. They both reported that getting the booster shot was a very quick process, as they encountered no lines. I can’t help but wonder if others are having that same experience, or if there are areas where there seems to be significant enthusiasm about getting the booster (for those who are eligible, of course).

Speaking of eligibility, I haven’t said anything about my getting a booster shot because I’m not eligible. The eligibility issue boils down to one fact: I got the Moderna vaccine, not the Pfizer. As soon as booster shots are authorized for the Moderna vaccine (assuming the Moderna booster shot does get authorized), and as soon as I am eligible for it (something I’m guessing will happen relatively quickly because of my being overweight), I look forward to getting one.

Speaking of vaccinations, the vaccine mandates are now in full effect for teachers and staff in New York City’s public school system. For all the panic over potentially not having the necessary substitute teachers in order to cover unvaccinated teachers on leave, there are 9,000 vaccinated substitute teachers[1] on hand to fill the slots of only a few thousand teachers who didn’t get their first shots by last Friday’s deadline.[2] At least in the New York City schools, life can, and does, go on without the steadfastly unvaccinated.

The numbers I’ve seen seem to indicate that there was a jump in vaccinations as the vaccine mandates came into effect for public school staff. In a matter of just three days, we went from having 90% of school staffers vaccinated[3] to 95% of school staffers vaccinated here in New York City.[4] Considering the jump in vaccinations when there were vaccine mandates for school employees, I can see why the city is now seriously considering mandates for some other groups of New York City employees, including firefighters and police officers. However, I can’t help but wonder what will happen in places where certain firefighters and police officers refuse to get vaccinated, because unless there’s something I’m missing, it’s not like there are substitute firefighters and police officers (unless we were to somehow get National Guard involved here as National Guard have been prepared to take the place of unvaccinated health care workers in New York). Though, perhaps I am wrong and someone can inform me. And perhaps there’s a lot more that needs to be hashed out with this potential vaccine mandate for police officers and firefighters.

Another piece of good news is that the rate at which the virus is spreading seems to be slowing where I live.[5] It’s promising news, and hopefully it is a trend that will continue where I am over the coming weeks. As far as I am concerned, the next potential hurdle to get through with this virus is Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November, for those of my readers who aren’t from the United States), as that is a holiday where there tends to be major family gatherings. However, I certainly hope that we will be in good shape with COVID before then, and that the holiday won’t do too much to set us back with the virus.

There continues to be about 40% of ICU beds available in the New York City area.[6] I continue to remain immensely grateful that I do not live in a part of the United States, or the world, where it is difficult for patients who need ICU beds to get them. I’ve been hearing reports on the news that the state of Alaska is the latest place to go through these difficulties. That being said, I keep on reminding myself that what some of these places are going through now was what my part of the world went through in March and April of 2020.

That is pretty much the update from where I’m living. I’m happy to hear updates from others!






[6] Ibid.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: September 30, 2021

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

On a personal level, the news about Moderna booster shots is big, as I have some family members who took the Moderna vaccine who would be eligible to get a booster shot. Though alas, I am on Team Pfizer so the time has not come (yet) for me to get a booster. As soon as I am eligible for one (assuming the science says that people who got the Pfizer two-dose should get a third dose), I hope to get one, though.

The biggest news out of my area this week has been over vaccine mandates, for both New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) employees and for health care workers in New York State.

The vaccine mandates for DOE employees has been subject to legal challenges, but as of the time of my writing, it looks like the mandates will go into effect at 5 PM this Friday. I hear that there’s a last-ditch effort for the vaccine mandate to be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, though I would be somewhat surprised if the Supreme Court blocked it–Justice Amy Coney Barrett turned away a challenge to a vaccine mandate at Indiana University (not to be confused with University of Indiana), so if that’s any indication, it seems like even the conservative Supreme Court justices have little appetite to take up anti-vaccine mandate cases. I support this mandate, because ultimately DOE needs to look out for the best interests of those most vulnerable in their system: unvaccinated kids under the age of 12 who cannot get vaccinated at this point. A public school system of teachers and other faculty who are fully vaccinated (with exemptions for extremely limited religious and medical reasons, of course) is a system that is looking out for those unvaccinated little kids. There is some concern as to what schools will do when confronted with teachers who remain unvaccinated, in spite of the mandates. While that is an understandable concern, I still remain hopeful that the majority of currently unvaccinated teachers will get vaccinated when push comes to shove, and that in the cases where there are teachers who continue to remain unvaccinated, there will be enough vaccinated substitute teachers to step in. We’ll know by this time next week, unless I am wrong in my prediction about what the Supreme Court will do, about whether I was correct to be hopeful.

The vaccine mandate for health care workers in New York State is already in effect, and there are reports of some hospitals taking a hard line on unvaccinated health care workers, even firing some of the unvaccinated.[1] In cases where there are staffing shortages at hospitals, people from the National Guard are stepping in. I support this mandate as well. Given the tragic consequences of not being diligent enough with how we care for COVID, I personally am led to be on the side of being more rather than less diligent, including with vaccinations for our health care workers. The side of being more diligent means health care workers getting vaccinated, with some rare exceptions.

Mandates aside, the virus seems to be spreading at more or less a steady rate in my area.[2] This gives me hope that we have weathered the potential storm of schools getting started, though honestly, even if it were a storm, at least the New York City area would’ve started with a decent amount of capacity in our ICUs in order to manage it. The fact that we have weathered this also gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the spread of the virus will slow down some more.

Speaking of ICUs, I must continue to say that thankfully, the horror stories of ICUs at capacity still do not exist in the New York City area. As of last Tuesday, only 60% of ICU beds are filled.[3] This stands in stark contrast with the parts of the country that have lower vaccination rates than New York City and higher occupancy of ICU beds (still to the point of medical care being rationed in the most extreme of cases). I genuinely hope and pray for those of my readers in those parts of the country and world where there aren’t many, if any, available ICU beds for other COVID patients.

So, that is it for me for now. Feel free to leave comments below about the situation I describe in New York, the situation with COVID in the United States, and/or the situation where you are!



[3] Ibid.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: September 16, 2021

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

Public schools in New York City started back last Monday. With the start of public schools again came the start of mass transit that in some places is as crowded, if not more so, as it was before the pandemic. Between schools starting back and the crew shortages on some bus and train lines in New York (I’m suspecting that it’s because a lot of mass transit workers are getting hit with COVID, though I could be wrong), I’ve experienced some very crowded buses in particular (and busy trains, albeit not quite as crowded as some buses I’ve been on). I’m hoping that this doesn’t result in our having another wave of this pandemic, but we will see. Over the past several weeks, I haven’t been particularly optimistic because all school kids under 12 cannot get vaccinated and therefore are potentially extremely vulnerable. In the next couple of weeks, we may see whether I was right to be pessimistic.

Even if my pessimism is correct, at least we continue to have a decent number of ICU beds available in the New York City area–over 4 in 10 of them.[1] Some other parts of the country are not so lucky, as Idaho is now rationing health care,[2] and so is Alaska’s largest hospital.[3] I say this because while we are not in an ideal situation in New York City, at least in my humble opinion, we are in a situation nowhere near as bad as some other parts of the country. Actually, I’m sensing that some other parts of the country may be experiencing now what people in New York City went through in March 2020.

There have been significant debates over vaccine mandates in my city, and nationwide. In fact, as some American readers know, the subject of vaccine mandates (along with COVID restrictions in general) was at the center of a recall election in California where Republicans were hoping to oust Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. As such, I will give my two cents on such mandates…

There are numerous vaccines that are mandated for the simplest things, such as attending school. Take Nebraska for example, a state where its own governor was grilled on by Chris Wallace on Fox News for not mandating COVID vaccines even while other vaccines are mandated. That state requires vaccinations for things like hepatitis B, chickenpox, and polio.[4] Such mandates have been constitutional before, and in fact there is Supreme Court precedence for said mandates,[5] so arguments that mandates are infringing upon the liberties of people just doesn’t hold constitutional muster from what I have read.

All that being said, if one believes that the COVID vaccines are effective, just as vaccines against those other aforementioned diseases are effective, I honestly then struggle to understand why some leaders are not doing everything they can to make sure that every single person who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated. Especially with lives at stake here, I am a believer that we should do everything in our power to save as many lives as possible. People’s lives depend on it. And frankly, with how the pandemic has affected the economy, both in the United States and globally, people’s livelihoods depend on it too.

Enough of my lecturing, though. I’m curious to hear how others are doing!






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.