Coronavirus Update From New York City: May 5, 2022

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

Even though I have now had a couple of close brushes with COVID (another scare happened soon after Easter, when one of the people I ate Easter lunch with outdoors tested positive a few days later), I continue to remain COVID-free as the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant continues to spread in New York City. The rest of my household also remains without COVID.

Speaking of boosters, I am glad to say that my parents received their second boosters! Both of them experienced some side effects from the second booster, but getting the second booster still most certainly beats getting hit seriously with the virus itself. And as a side benefit, our household got four free COVID tests! All the tests expired at the end of April though, so we had to use them quickly (and use them we did).

The BA.2 subvariant, on the other hand, continues to spread significantly in New York City. The level of spread is, at least for me, high enough to act with caution, high enough for me to currently avoid larger gatherings while being unmasked, and high enough to not want to eat indoors right now. It also means that when I go to a gathering with several people, I like to get tested so as to make sure I wouldn’t contribute to a super spreader event of any kind.

One sobering note I will end this post on is that there is a high likelihood that we will have surpassed 1 million deaths from COVID by the time I write my monthly update in June. We are approaching as many lives lost as there are people in San Jose, California. If that isn’t sobering, I don’t know what is.

That is it for me, for now. As always, I look forward to hearing how others are faring!

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!


[2] Here’s my COVID update post from last month:

Dear Congress, You Needed to Pass Funding for Pandemic Relief…Last Week

Note to readers: This post is going to be unlike any other blog post I’ve ever done, in that this is going to be written like a letter, namely, an open letter to Congress. I hope this open letter will inspire others who care about the issue I am writing about to think about this further, and perhaps write letters to their own congressional representatives about the issue I write on here.

Additionally, I will add that there are reports that Congress has agreed to a deal on this. To my knowledge, the deal hasn’t passed yet so I decided to still publish tonight’s post.

Dear Congress,

Over two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be tempting to throw in the towel and say that the pandemic is over, endemic, or not a big deal. But not one of those three things is a reality yet. As of the time I’m writing this, the pandemic is still taking the lives of over 600 Americans a day, meaning that we are losing thousands a week to this virus. I remember when America grieved over 1,000 troops and then 2,000 troops lost in the Iraq War. We are losing that number of Americans to the pandemic every 2-3 days.

Worse yet, there are parts of the United States, including where I live in New York City, where the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant is spreading.

During a time like this, a time when we may need to prepare for another wave of this pandemic (regrettably, as I’m tired of the pandemic too), we should be doubling down on three basic public health measures we’ve been pushing for many months: testing, tracing, and vaccinating.

And yet, because of your inability to do your jobs as public servants—serving the public, first and foremost—you have put this into doubt for uninsured Americans.

Also, just on a semi-random tangent: the fact that the phrase “uninsured Americans” exists is an indictment on Congress’s ability to give even the most basic of safety nets to people who might not otherwise have a safety net. That’s before we even start talking about all the Americans who are underinsured, as well as Americans with insurance companies that lack any sort of generosity or compassion with the benefits they give out.

Because you failed to do your jobs, COVID tests for uninsured patients are no longer free, even if they have COVID symptoms. How can people test or trace when they struggle to pay out of pocket for health care? Millions of Americans don’t have the money to make such a choice, and as a result have to resort to rapid tests that aren’t quite as accurate but still require a certain amount of money to buy them. Because of your inability to do your jobs, the public health strategy of testing and tracing has been put in danger in at least some parts of the United States.

Then there is the free funding for vaccines for those who are uninsured. Funding is supposed to run out for that this week. By not ensuring funding for this, especially at a time when we are urging people to get boosted and others fifty and older to get their second boosters, Congress is essentially taking an anti-vaxxer posture, or at least an anti-vaxxer posture for the uninsured. Let us be clear—not ensuring funding for COVID vaccines for the uninsured is an anti-vax policy, period.

And then there are all the other things in danger as a result of your irresponsibility: the curtailing of a relief fund that has allowed hospitals to treat uninsured COVID patients,[1] the potential running out of monoclonal antibodies by June,[2] and more.

I read that Republicans in Congress want “a more detailed accounting of where previous COVID-19 funding has gone.”[3] One can debate over whether there is a need for this detailed accounting, but regardless, said accounting should not keep those who are uninsured from access to things like vaccines and tests. However, one detailed accounting we really need is how we are going to prevent people from dying when we are pursuing a strategy of cutting off funding for things that help people live.

We need funding for COVID treatment, and we needed it last week. Congress needs to act.


Grumpy from New York City




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: 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!