Notes from the pandemic in New York City

I’m writing from my apartment in The Bronx, one of the five boroughs of New York City. Like millions of other people, we are in quarantine. Our city has been the center of the pandemic for few months and it has been very hard for many people, financially and emotionally.

I took the photo of the little playground in my neighborhood around the middle of March. It made me sad to imagine that kids couldn’t play with other kids as usual. Those words: “Play at your own risk” seemed to summarize what was going on with the city. I imagine Work at your own risk, Go to a supermarket at your own risk, Enter a pharmacy at your own risk, Take the subway at your own risk, in general “Breathe at your own risk” or “Live at your own risk.

I have been living in NYC for twenty years and I was here on September 11, 2001, when I was pregnant with my son. This is a very resilient city and New Yorkers are tough. But still the numbers are horrifying.

“The first case of COVID-19 in US was reported 108 days ago on 1/22/2020. Since then, the country has reported 1,329,260 cases, and 79,526 deaths,” according to data from John Hopkins University.

To see more info about different countries and whether they flattened the curve of the pandemic: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases

Nearly 80,000 Americans have died, more than in the Korean War. Numbers sometimes are too abstract and don’t show the story behind them. But behind each number there is a face, a life, a family left behind, a story. People couldn’t say goodbye to their relatives.

Few weeks’ later playgrounds were closed and still didn’t reopen.

NYC has a portal with resources for its citizens about food, housing, jobs, etc: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/resources/resources-for-new-yorkers.page

Unemployment rates went up dramatically to 14.7 % of the population, the worst since the Great Depression. More than 20.5 million jobs were lost in April. People are hungry.

The government is offering free meals in NYC schools. They are open from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm to provide free breakfast and lunches for children and adults. They are Grab-and-Go meals for any New Yorker. Kosher meals are provided in some schools.

For a list of places visit:

https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/food/free-meals

I went for a walk with my son, to a park near the Hudson River. Life goes on. We shall overcome.

About the Author
Graciela Berger Wegsman is an award-winning playwright, journalist and translator. As a journalist, Graciela has written articles for many newspapers and magazines in Argentina, Israel and the USA. She has been a frequent contributor to the New York Daily News for the last several years, specializing in Latino culture. She writes her "On Being Jewish and Latina Blog." She is also a Realtor working in New York at Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
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