STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are spiking in states that have reopened all across the country, including Texas, Florida and California.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has slammed (mostly red) states for reopening too fast, or for failing to take the proper virus precautions. He points out that New York, once the epicenter of the virus, has avoided the big upticks in cases as it’s reopened.
But while other parts of the state have indeed reopened, New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 epicenter, has only this week begun to reopen in a meaningful way. There’s no way of telling yet what could happen the statistics here. I’d hold my tongue.
Remember too that New York saw catastrophic numbers of deaths and new cases throughout April and into May, when people were under lockdown at home, businesses were shuttered, and when those venturing outside wore protective facial coverings.
A new study from Penn State says that 80 times more people may have been infected as of March than originally thought. So did we “tame the beast” by staying home, as Cuomo boasts, or did the virus simpy run its course here having already been loosed in the population? It’s debatable.
City residents have been busting out of COVID-19 quarantine for weeks now, crowding the streets in front of bars and restaurants, and filling up public parks and beaches. We haven’t seen a big spike in cases yet as a result of that behavior.
But all that mingling got a super-charge this week, when restaurants opened for outdoor dining on Monday under Phase 2. Forest Avenue was flooded with customers that day, and from what I saw when I was in the area, there were plenty of people socializing without wearing any facial coverings.
Not that Cuomo or Mayor Bill de Blasio seem all that worried that we could start seeing upticks here. A number of upstate regions are hitting Phase 4 of reopening, and de Blasio on Thursday said that New York City was already on track to enter Phase 3 reopening on July 6.
You can understand the confidence. We know that there were states around the country that didn’t enforce stay-at-home orders, social distancing or the wearing of facial coverings the way that New York did. Those states are now rushing to get their citizens in line as numbers have ticked up, particularly among the younger set.
Or maybe the powers that be in New York simply know that the virus has done its damage here, and that other states will now have to take their own hit. It’s not a second wave. It’s other states’ first wave. And it may have happened as soon as people started going out in public again, no matter what precautions were taken.
And it bears repeating: The vast majority of people who get COVID recover from it, without needing to be hospitalized. And the vast majority of those who are hospitalized eventually go home. The worst outcomes are still reserved for the elderly, and for those with underlying conditions.
You’ll get sick. But you’ll live.
Of course Cuomo wants to point the finger at red states. He’s still trying to shovel dirt on New York’s deadly decision to send elderly COVID patients back into nursing homes. He’d much rather launch broadsides at red-state governors, including Gov. Jim DeSantis of Florida, and boast how New York relied on science and got reopening right, while others played politics and got it wrong.
Florida, of course, isolated their elderly and didn’t have the same deadly outcome for seniors that New York did. No surprise to see Cuomo firing back now that he has the opportunity.
For all our sakes, I hope it doesn’t come back to bite him.