New York, New York? Prolonged shutdown raises doubts about future
NEW YORK, May 15, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – New York City extended a two-month
lockdown, even as parts of the state began to open up Friday, leaving
America’s cultural and commercial capital wondering what its future holds.
While many European cities begin the process of reviving their economies,
the Big Apple — America’s coronavirus epicenter — shows no sign easing
restrictions as authorities fear sparking another wave of COVID-19
“I’m bored to tears,” said sprightly 80-year-old Rhoda Glass, who at this
time of year would normally be bouncing between the several charities where
“I’m just hoping we come back to a semblance of normal pretty soon,” she
That wish seems unlikely with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying NYC will have to
wait until June before a decision can be made on when non-essential
businesses, such as its world-renowned museums, can reopen.
Late Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo extended various emergency measures,
some to May 28 and others to June 13.
Sipping cocktails on a rooftop bar, seeing a concert in Madison Square
Garden or being absorbed in the crowds of Times Square: activities symbolic
of New York’s status as a bustling, exciting metropolis seem unimaginable in
the foreseeable future.
Beloved Broadway theaters have said they will not reopen until September at
And leaders have warned New Yorkers that they may have to endure the city’s
notoriously sweltering summer months without access to its hugely popular
Authorities have already said swimming pools will remain closed and insist
it is even too early to say whether schools will be allowed to open in
September for the new academic year.
“We have to be smart,” Governor Andrew Cuomo has said numerous times about
reopening, pointing out that countries which eased restrictions too quickly
had to shut down again after cases spiked.
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COVID-19 is thought to have killed more than 20,000 New York City residents
since it registered its first case in early March, representing almost a
quarter of America’s coronavirus deaths.
Upwards of 700 New York state residents were dying every day at the height
of the crisis last month. Numbers this week have been hovering around the
A handful of less-affected regions will start to reopen on Friday but they
represent a small fraction of New York state’s 20 million inhabitants.
– Inflammatory illness –
New York City is some way off meeting the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention guidelines for reopening which include a continuous 14-day decline
in deaths and new cases.
Cuomo is committed to the criteria, even as other states reopen without
While demonstrations against confinement measures have multiplied across
the United States, New Yorkers have largely followed the orders, although
sunnier weather has seen residents flock to parks in recent weeks.
Despite emergency field hospitals having come down and sirens noticeably
less frequent, residents required to wear masks outdoors and clapping for
essential workers at 7:00 pm are daily reminders the crisis is far from over.
A recent spike in children becoming infected with a rare inflammatory
syndrome similar to Kawasaki disease that scientists suspect is linked to
COVID-19 has also reignited fears about the virus.
“Continuing the lockdown is the right decision. It really sucks but it is
what it is,” 40-year-old trader Shelby, who declined to giver her surname,
The crisis has exposed inequalities in one of America’s most diverse
cities, with African-American and Latino communities dying in
disproportionately large numbers.
It has also left hundreds of thousands of people unemployed and the city
facing a multi-billion-dollar funding crisis that threatens a financial
crisis not seen since the 1970s. That requires federal help.
New Yorkers concerned that the Big Apple might never be the same again take
solace in the fact it has recovered from other tragedies, namely the 9/11
attacks and Hurricane Sandy.
“We’ll bounce back. We’re New Yorkers. That’s what we do,” said Glass.