The Death of New York City Is Clickbait
Anyone who said NY was dead after Covid-19 arrived wasn’t a New Yorker to begin with
There’s one way to put even the mellowest New Yorker into a fit of rage: insinuating, in any way, that New York City is dead.
Last March, grief overtook the city I’ve lived in my entire life. Although the events of 9/11 caused me PTSD due to the trauma of almost losing my dad twice in the Twin Towers (first in the 1993 bombing, and then in 2001), the uncertainty we experienced for months in New York City was a new danger that no one in our lifetime had lived through. And as the nation surpasses 500,000 lives lost to Covid-19, the death toll feels like experiencing 9/11 every single day a count comes in. The magnitude is devastating.
During the height of the city’s Covid-19 cases, I clung to New York Governor Cuomo’s updates, knowing that an “apex” loomed that would take 16,000 lives before it was done in April. Like many New Yorkers, my family lives in the city. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t hop on the subway to make sure my mother was okay. And she felt the same; she could hear my wheezing over the phone and knew that I was struggling with my asthma due to masks. It pained her that I’d have to handle any asthma attacks alone.
As I said a prayer every night and tried my best to appreciate the fact that my parents were okay, I learned a lot — too much — about the cadence of ambulances. In Catholic school, we learned a prayer that we say whenever an ambulance passes, hoping it arrives in time to help: “Agonizing Heart of Jesus, have mercy on the sick, the dying, the poor, and the tempted.”
I started saying the prayer once an hour; in between, I could count at least 20 sirens in that period. I also learned that the volume on sirens is lowered after 11 p.m. I heard them muffled in my sleep before they were back to full volume at 8 a.m. Every wailing siren reminded me that someone was likely being ushered to Elmhurst Hospital, which became the ground zero for Covid-19 cases in the virus’ early days. It’s where a childhood friend, now a registered nurse, worked, terrified…