“I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s not normal. This has its psychological price, that we are constantly being called home to the dead. We see all this grief in families, this pain. ”Edwin Raymond is a Brooklyn cop. Every time someone dies in their home district and the relatives call 911, Raymond has to be called in as an inspector. In normal times, this happens up to five times a month, higher numbers would worry him, he says in a video interview with the author Baratunde Thurston on Instagram. In the last week alone, he was called to people nine times, in whom the emergency doctor could only determine death. In the neighboring district there were 19 such cases in 48 hours.
It is the third week since Governor Andrew Cuomo announced heightened measures against the spread of the coronavirus. Only people in the most necessary jobs still go to work outside the home, and now everyone outside should wear mouth and nose protection. On Wednesday, Cuomo had to announce the highest number of people who had died in a single day since the beginning of the crisis: 779 dead. This brought the total number of deceased in New York state to 6,268.
More than twice as many deaths as in 9/11
“The bad news is terrible indeed,” Cuomo said at his daily press conference. The state lost more than twice as many people as it did in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. He never expected to see something as bad again, said Cuomo. The people that police officer Edwin Raymond sees may not even appear in the coronavirus statistics. There is simply no capacity for subsequent tests. In the last few days there have been reports of a possible unreported number of up to 2,000 more people than normal times who have died at home since the beginning of the crisis.
Governor Cuomo has meanwhile been able to confirm the more positive news from the previous day. The number of corona patients who have to be hospitalized is falling in the city of New York and in the state. Thanks to the efforts of the past few weeks, the health system can reasonably cope with the patients. Once again, Cuomo warned that this positive trend could be reversed immediately if the contact restrictions were relaxed too early.
In the meantime, a fine of up to $ 2,000 can be imposed on anyone who does not keep the distance to other people or who gather in groups. Police officer Raymond, who is otherwise committed to criminal law reform, understands people whose head falls on their heads. But it makes him angry that he still meets people on the street who do not take the danger seriously enough. “I speak to them when they are on their way to the subway, I want to know where are I going, and too many say to me, I’m just visiting a friend,” he says in the Instagram video.
The Passover festival begins on Wednesday for the Jews who celebrate. They make up more than 13 percent of the population in New York, and so from the authorities’ perspective this is also a test for Easter – how do people behave, will they obey the rules, or will they invite relatives?
New York’s parks are open
Because many New Yorkers are still out and about – for different reasons. On sunny days, hundreds of thousands are drawn to the outdoors, as they always do, sit in the parks and admire the cherry blossoms. Most people try to keep the distances – the authorities want everyone to be “six feet apart” from each other, which is 1.83 meters.
On the banks of the East River in Williamsburg, where you look from Brooklyn to Manhattan, parents let the toddlers run around between the benches – only now and then you can hear the warning call: “Don’t touch that”. The city does not want to close the parks. Instead, basketball hoops and volleyball nets were dismantled – and since this week at least the “dog runs” have been sealed off, fenced-off areas where dogs can run without a leash. Too many people used them to chat with their neighbors in a confined space.
Like the parks, public transportation is still there for New Yorkers. On the L-Train from Brooklyn to Manhattan one afternoon this week, fewer than ten people are sitting in one car, all of them keep their distances, and most of them wear masks. When getting in and out, make sure not to stand too close to the door. A woman sprays a handrail. In the middle of the day, so few people use the trains and buses that the MTA, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, has already reduced the offer by 25 percent. After all, New Yorkers shouldn’t make unnecessary trips.
Rush hour with mask wearers
More and more MTA employees are still getting infected with the corona virus. More than 1500 people who keep the subways and buses running have tested positive and 41 have died. Individual trade unionists are demanding that local public transport be shut down. But because people in service jobs and in the healthcare sector often have to commute, that is hardly imaginable.
Because in the morning and in the evening the trains are not so empty. Many people from the Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens still have to come to work – they often don’t live in the expensive areas where they work. They risk their health to drive to hospitals, supermarkets or restaurants. Again and again photos go through the social media that show fully packed cars – the pictures actually look like in a normal rush hour, only with many mask wearers.