COVID-19 has thoroughly disrupted our lives. The entire world has been turned upside down, as governments and doctors strive to understand and end the pandemic.
Almost everyone is wearing a mask and keeping their distance. But, in New York City, the issues are more monumental than most other places because of the city’s population and proximity. In other words, normalcy sometimes appears to be light years away for NYers. Why is this so?
The people in my area, and even in my building are frightened by potential exposure to the disease. We treat each other like lepers as we dance past each other to avoid all contact. If you get touched or saliva is transferred, you may be infected. One leper fearing another.
The situation in my apartment building includes mandatory face masks, one family at a time in the elevator (I can’t wait to see how skyscrapers deal with their elevator issues), the gym is closed, housekeepers must enter through the service entrance along with construction workers and dogs, delivery men are forbidden to enter the building under any circumstances and so on.
What’s going to happen when the geniuses that lead our country, state and city loosen the restrictions? Will we be ready to put our masks in the closet and begin to have face to face conversations with family members and strangers? I don’t think it will be that simple.
One of the biggest issues in New York City is the transportation needs of millions of people each day. How the hell are subway straphangers going to get to the office if subways remain filthy? I couldn’t think of a worse biohazard than an underground station and a subway car. Why? The riders are packed in and jammed together on platforms.
Is the MTA system going to magically work efficiently in September or December? Are the subways going to be sanitary? Are homeless people going to stop hanging out and relieving themselves on the platforms? Will we again smell urine in a subway station? Of course, we will. If anything, services will be hampered by budget constraints as the City streaks towards bankruptcy.
Back to the office. At the beginning of the day, lunchtime and the end of the workday, people enter and exit the building by the thousand. Millions of people are going up and down elevators across the metropolitan region, maybe 20 or so in each car. If we decrease the capacity for distancing reasons, “rush hour” will be known as “rush hours.”
Have you walked on Madison Avenue lately? Stores are boarded up because of concern about civil unrest. If the mayor gives everyone a green light to open and do business, will the owners and their merchandise be in danger?
Restaurants are scheduled to open as well. How will these places be able to make a profit if only 50% of tables can be used at one time? Margins are slim to begin with in the food business. Forced to work at low occupancy rates will not be beneficial to any company’s income statement.
I’m very unhappy about the way our leaders have kept us informed, or in the dark, about the true dangers of COVID-19. The disease is not a killer like Ebola. From what I understand, the people with the highest risk of death are elderly, and those with serious health problems including auto-immune issues.
Younger people, defined as under 50, are not dying unless they have serious medical conditions. The vast majority of the public should not be panic-stricken about contracting the disease, or at least no more than people worried about contracting measles in the 1950s and 1960s. You can get very sick, but you are not going to die.
So, why is everyone so frightened? Isolation, distancing, face masks, staying at home, working at home, not seeing family and friends are our lives today. Maybe we need to have much more of a young person’s perspective relating to the threat of the pandemic.