The New York City reopening miracle starts today, June 8th, much sooner than seemed possible in late March. That’s when PAUSE, an executive order, shut down the state as some of our darkest days loomed.
Remembering the daily wait for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “media availability” feels like looking back at catastrophe escaped.
But that’s not right.
The coronavirus onslaught in New York City was catastrophic, 25,000 New Yorkers lost to COVID-19, but the miracle is that we pulled out of that nightmare so quickly.
Almost breathlessly, Governor Andrew Cuomo called it “a miracle,” and it is.
You look around and see face coverings everywhere, nearly 100% in subway cars. The truth is, getting New Yorkers to comply at 90% on anything is a miracle.
That took some coaxing.
Never saw it before. Don’t expect to see it again.
New York City Reopening Details
First things first.
Let’s talk about the subway. With many returning to the underground city for the first time since March, surprises are in store. And they are all good ones.
Governor Cuomo said the subways are cleaner than they have ever been, and an inspection yesterday proved him right. But that’s not a miracle because stations have gone only from utterly filthy to simply dirty.
The cars really are clean, right to the edges. Will they stay that way? Come on. Any New Yorker knows this is temporary. The MTA’s not up to the task, longterm, but it’s really good for now.
And social distancing? Yes, consistently, at least for now while traffic’s light. And it’s rare to see anyone without a face covering.
Who’s Going Back To Work?
Website 6sqft reported, “phase one allows construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and select retail that can offer curbside pickup to reopen.”
It’s just a guess, but several hundred thousand return to work this week. That kicks off a long upward curve to fuller employment.
Based on their models, some businesses, specifically those not geared for curbside pickup, are likely to wait for Phase Two. Then, in store shopping returns. With social distancing, of course.
So, What About Phase Two?
State rules say each phase much last at least two weeks, giving regions time to monitor effects before taking the next big step.
So that means June 22nd is the earliest Phase Two date in New York City’s reopening process. But Mayor de Blasio predicts early July.
At that time, stores reopen with social distancing and other health controls in place, and restaurants likely get a go ahead for outdoor dining.
The new normal unfolds.
If all goes well, Phase Four, which includes entertainment and schools, happens in late summer or early autumn, but that depends on the miracle continuing.
And by miracle, I mean New Yorkers complying as a community with respect for each other, distancing, wearing masks…
But there’s one big threat looming… the rest of America.
New York City Reopening While The Rest of the Country Worsens
The dirty little secret nobody talks about is that, with its aggressive lockdown, New York City went from worst to first. The biggest New York miracle brought COVID-19 under enough control to let us start up again.
But will the rest of America drag us back?
Ten days ago, loopy news reports claimed that the coronavirus spread was slowing across the country, and that inspired bad judgements about reopening.
A careful look at the data showed that what happened was, the virus leaked into less populous regions. The numbers lowered, but the spread never slowed.
Consistent daily reports of over 20,000 new cases increased, this week, as a reopening Florida reported its most ever. Deaths, happily, are down a bit, but that’s from learning better treatments, not fewer cases.
And in spite of mounting deaths — we’re at 112,000 now — and escalating case counts, national leadership pushes for more of what got us in this mess.
There’s no reason for national optimism.
So, What’s New York Got To Worry About?
Ours is a national economy. As an entertainment, arts and business engine, New York needs tourists, conferences and deals. If the country’s not up to it, possible impacts are ominous.
Also, very much unknown.
But perhaps the biggest scare is that a widely infected nation, which appears to be forming, will return COVID-19 to New York, no matter how vigilant we are.
By David Stone