I was in Catskills (upstate New York) all last week, during the height of the US coronavirus outbreak, which was officially pronounced a pandemic. In the countryside, I watched on social media as New Yorkers were ransacking grocery stores, pharmacies (toilet paper??) and never leaving their homes.
Honestly, I felt relieved being removed in miles of countryside, but I was worried about returning home, which I did on Saturday. There were so many Tweets and photos of a ghostland NYC, where streets were virtually empty, stores had no product and you couldn’t go out.
However, when I returned, it felt that there was no pandemic happening at all. East Village, where I live, was normal. It was fine. People were out jogging, sidewalks were *more* crowded than usual, people were hanging out in the parks, all the stores I went to were fully stocked (CVS, Walgreens, etc), and there was traffic. This wasn’t just Saturday but also Sunday and this morning.
As a journalist, I know how media can distort perception. I know subways are empty, as are tourist hotspots like Times Square, but not all of New York City is acting like this is an actual pandemic. It drives me a little crazy. I know how severe the situation is, so when I left my apt to get a prescription at the pharmacy, I had gloves, hand sanitizer in my pocket and avoided crowded spots, yet everyone was casual, giving each other high fives, riding Citibikes (gloveless) and hanging out in cafes and pizza joints.
Listen, everyone. Do your shopping online. Get things delivered during a pandemic. I found out Walgreens delivers, and you can click this link to stock up because I went to the pharmacy yesterday, and it was madness. That’s the thing. If you *have* to leave your house, do it, and obviously be safe, but try not to be out casually, having brunch with friends, playing with kids, etc. I know it’s so so hard to self quarantine, but we’re all in this together.
Anyway, I took a few photos on my walk through the East Village, New York to show that people are still out and about, as if there was no pandemic happening. It was sort of weird.
H-Mart grocery store in Astor Place was packed on Sunday. I went at 4 pm, thinking it might be empty, and I had no food after my trip, but nope. It felt like Trader Joes on 14th at 6 pm. I took this photo of the cashier line when I was actually at the point I could see the cashier sign. Also, there was no shortage of any food. They were low on was bananas, but everything was fully stocked. People were out and about on the street. This guy is even touching this girl’s face. Do you think they are now at risk? Another street scene. Honestly, it felt like any other day, so I wonder if the “dead streets” you see in media are specific to tourist zones. Other than the worker wearing a face mask, nothing screamed pandemic to me. This morning, kids are playing in the street. I am seeing a lot of photos of stores and restaurants being closed in NYC due to coronavirus. Yes, it is happening, but these two on my block have been empty for months. I’m wondering how many more will go though. Tompkins Square Park this morning. A lot of people walking their dogs. Totally get it.
This guy upgraded his surgical mask to a Halloween mask. Maybe to truly social distance himself?I live on 10th street, and it’s normally quiet, but lots of cars this morning. Another street scene in Astor Place yesterday. Everyone was out and about, masks or not. I mean, NYC apartments are *tiny* so I get it. Like any other normal day in the East Village.
So, my question is: Should everyone in NYC take this pandemic a lot more seriously? Did some of these New Yorkers not get the memo about coronavirus? Or do they want to avoid going into panic mode?
I think ordering all your needs is a good idea for now. Try to stay home as much as you can. As I mentioned, I know Walgreens delivers.
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