It’s time to call a spade a spade. New York City failed. In particular, the incredible lack of leadership from Mayor DiBlasio, combined with a visible feud between him and Governor Cuomo, resulted in one of the biggest disasters in the storied history of America’s most important city.
First, why did a city as densely populated as New York not have a plan to battle a health crisis as serious as this? This is the city that does countless things right on the biggest stage with regard to public safety, but somehow it slipped the minds of public officials to have a plan in place for the most obvious. That on its own merit is simply stunning. NYC should be one of the few, if not only, city in America that should have a full-fledged plan to battle an outbreak. Not a single US metropolitan area is even close to the population density of NYC. The script was written before the pandemic started. It wasn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when. Fact is, this is the East Coast equivalent to the city of LA not having a plan in place to deal with the ‘big one,’ or their next major earthquake. It’s a foregone conclusion.
Second, why did Cuomo and DiBlasio refuse to work together in the beginning, and why are they hardly cooperating with each other even today? You’d expect them to be side by side working together from the start, but because of their ginormous egos, they’ve opted to put the entire state in disarray. Had they decided to swallow their pride in the beginning, you can guarantee the city would have seen better progress in battling the virus. It’s stunning that they couldn’t mend fences and come together to work for all New Yorkers during a time that every single New Yorker needed help.
Third, why did the city decide to keep the schools open for an extra two weeks? Everyone in NYC knew it. Close the schools. But, DiBlasio didn’t do it. For two straight weeks the teachers asked, the city dwellers spoke up, and the media made the case for schools to close. Why does that matter? It would have drastically reduced the spread, because companies would have been able to issue stay-at-home orders followed by Cuomo’s and/or DiBlasio’s suggestions as soon as the million plus kids were safely at home. The two weeks likely cost NYC thousands of lives, exacerbated the damage to their economy, and significantly delayed the chance of NYC reopening at a reasonable date.
Four, why did NYC opt to go with only social distance, and not ‘full Wuhan.’ I get it, we live in America. Land of the free. But, come on, NYC is different from every other American city. Two words. Population Density. Social Distancing was a fantasy in NYC. Essential workers are far too many. Transit is required via subway and buses. It was always a recipe for a disaster, but instead NYC decided to operate under the same rules that Los Angeles implemented, instead of taking it a step further. NYC didn’t do enough. The city essentially should had been locked and shut down. Subways should have been only for healthcare professionals, and utility workers. The National Guard should have been deployed earlier. Food and supplies should have been provided, and grocery stores and bodegas should have essentially been taken over by the local and state governments to ensure everyone was taken care of. Had NYC battled this with stricter, Wuhan-like measures, they never would have seen anything near the numbers they got. But, were they too scared of civil unrest? Looking back, I’m sure they would have taken a night or two of a few incidents, over all the casualties.
Five, why did NYC not go above and beyond the Trump travel ban? Seriously, why didn’t they? Think about it. Italy was a wreck. Italy was shut down. Italy was still funneling people out of their hot spot zones regularly via air and rail all over Europe, and subsequently on flights direct to NYC’s JFK airport and NJ’s Newark Airport. These tourists and returning Americans were obviously wildly infected at high rates as they returned to the Tri-State area. They willfully traveled back into the city, visited all the tourist spots, or returned to work. It was utterly obvious that this would happen back in February when Italy was falling apart. But, instead, NYC did nothing about it. In fact, Cuomo and DiBlasio mocked Trump for the travel bans he put in place. The foolish leaders of NY should have gone further and stopped the spread via stopping the daily imports of Covid-19 through their airports.
Finally, NYC isn’t coming back from this. There are four groups in NYC. First, old money. Keyword is old. These folks are going to be crippled in terms of their freedoms. There’s no home in NYC for them anymore. The data proves they are the most vulnerable, and in a dense city like NYC, good luck returning to any sense of normalcy. Might as well pack up and head to Florida now.
Next, minority groups have dealt with hell. These folks are the ones who live in the outer boroughs, and those who have the highest rate of infections among city dwellers. Most of them were classified as essential workers, and risked their lives daily on subways and buses to keep the economy going for the city’s privileged working from home and retiree population. They have several generations in the home they can barely afford through minimal wages and multiple jobs. They escaped their country for a better life, and after dealing with 60 days of unending hell, why would they even consider staying in NYC to seek a better life. This group will be fleeing in droves as soon as they can.
Third, students won’t return, and transient folks reliant on tourism don’t have a path back. How is a kid going to justify to mom and dad to pay $60,000 a year for a virtual education? Think of it. An NYU education majoring in most degrees never pays for itself. Economically, top schools are expecting their prized commodities to pay top dollar for a University of Phoenix style education? Not happening. Second, the other group of transient New Yorkers are toast. These are your Broadway scabs, or folks seeking a new life in the arts while working as bar backs and waiters. Their establishments have been closed for two months and counting, and won’t reopen to any sort of capacity that brings home income they once counted on. They’re already wildly behind on rent, up to their eyeballs in student loan and credit card debt, and are a phone call away to their parents from packing up and never returning.
Fourth and foremost, the millennial population working at major corporations will miss out on what made NYC fun pre-pandemic and won’t care to stay. Bars, restaurants, sporting events, and theater aren’t reopening the way they once were. It won’t be a pleasurable experience. Second, if there is a second wave of infection, or any sort of flare up before a vaccine, these folks will lose it. They’ve already played by the rules for two months, and Cuomo and DiBlasio are expecting them to do it again for another two or three? No way. It’s been horrible for these folks. They’ve sat at their laptops every day deprived of any source of socializing. Now, they did their job fine without physically showing up, empowering them to say to their bosses, you either transfer me out of NYC, or I quit.
NYC is going to take it on the chin. And then they’re going to get punched in the face again. It’s not going to work out for them. They cannot recover from this. It will be an unprecedented disaster for the city, and the area. The economy is hanging on by a thread, and it just seems impossible they won’t slip. The worst part about it… it was avoidable