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!



Coronavirus Update From New York City: October 21, 2021

I hope all of my readers are well, regardless of where you are living.

The good news is that the rate of infection is continuing to slow down where I live. This continues to create hope that we are beyond the worst of the Delta variant of the virus, at least here in New York City. I do think we’ll have some further hurdles to clear in the holiday gatherings we’ll have over the next couple of months, and I still do not like the horrifyingly high rates of death and ICU bed occupancy that exist in parts of the country as we head into a time of year with these family gatherings.

At the same time, there is another vaccine mandate battle in my city, and this time, it’s over New York City mandating the rest of its public sector workers to get vaccinated, including agencies where vaccination rates are lower. There are some key New York City agencies with low vaccination rates, in some cases in the 60%-70% range. The police department and the fire department are among the agencies with low vaccination rates, at least as of a couple of weeks ago (when I see the most recent data from).[1] I am guessing that most workers, when faced with the choice between a paycheck and no paycheck (because these workers who don’t get vaccinated will end up on unpaid leave), will decide to get vaccinated, if grudgingly (and in some cases, perhaps even angrily) so. We’ll see if I’m right when this mandate is scheduled to go into effect one week from tomorrow.

Speaking of the low vaccination rates among some New York City agencies, I think one thing I’m definitely reflecting on is the fact that some of the agencies with the lowest vaccination rates are also some of the agencies serving the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. Among the ten agencies in my city with the lowest vaccination rates are the child welfare agency (the Administration for Children’s Services), the agency that deals with individuals experiencing homelessness (the Department of Homeless Services), the fire department, the agency responsible for overseeing public housing (the New York City Housing Authority), and the agency responsible for New York City’s prison population (the Department of Correction).[2] I wish that people in the media pick up on that fact, because it is definitely something interesting that I’ve noticed. I can’t help but wonder whether other cities are also seeing that agencies serving the most vulnerable also have the lowest vaccination rates. And if so, I can’t help but wonder why that is the case. Perhaps these musings can be the inspiration for a study from someone, some day.

On a different note, I must point out that where these ICU issues are happening seems to be in parts of the country where vaccination rates are lower. It is not as much of an issue in places like the New York City area, where 40% of ICU beds are still available.[3]

I should also follow up on something I talked about in last week’s blog post: holiday gatherings. My post last week noted that there were still real questions about what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance will be when it comes to holiday gatherings. This week, I can say that the CDC emphasizes the importance of good ventilation and vaccinations as the most important considerations in making sure you have a safe holiday season.[4] So, I guess the moral of all of this is for people who haven’t been vaccinated to get vaccinated.

That’s pretty much it from my part of the world. I’d be interested to hear how others are doing, though!





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.