New York, ghost town … but less


The measures came late in a city where social distance is complicated

New York is empty, the media around the world report. And it is clear that, compared to the vibrant city that was until recently, the change is evident. However, when compared to Madrid or Milan, there are clear differences. In New York, it is still common to see citizens who walk without a mask or gloves and who calmly take the subway and the bus, who, on the other hand, continue to operate relatively normally. My sister-in-law Alexandra tells me, who has been working from her computer for New York University for a month and a half.

The universities closed their doors when the schools continued as if nothing. They only did this when the teachers’ union rebelled against the mayor, De Blasio. The online classes my daughters attend took another week to implement. The medical and sanitary material took even longer to reach the places that needed it most, and the governor, Cuomo, who lives in a constant controversy with President Trump, assures that only masks, gloves and other protective equipment remain for some. days.

New York looks to Europe. That is his legend and his aspiration. Much of its population comes from Italy, where the tragedy, weeks and weeks before New Yorkers took any action, was unfolding live and direct. Another part of its inhabitants comes from China. Writer Roberto Brodsky recalls the feeling he felt when he saw a woman in a mask and gloves in Chinatown. It seemed exaggerated to everyone. On March 16, when the country had decreed general alarm, I walked through Central Park and the High Line, where everyone seemed to be celebrating a spring day.

The slow response by New York to this crisis can be blamed on the unconsciousness of its authorities and the fight between the federal and state levels of the United States. But perhaps the very nature of this city has also played a role in all of this. “New York is like any Latin American city, very dense and very unequal,” says Vicky Murillo, director of the Institute for Latin American Studies at Columbia University, who adds: “Many of those Latinos, who are illegal, have no access to public health ”.

New York enjoyed just a density that sets it apart from the rest of the country. Now watch how his rival Los Angeles has managed to keep the virus curve from growing at lightning speed. Social distance in New York is a concrete impossibility because prosperous Manhattan is surrounded by belts of poverty that live on social assistance and cannot even dream or think of something similar to telework.

Faced with the growth of the Covid-19, New York seemed to believe that the danger did not exist … until its urgency became apparent and inevitable. The Big Apple had become a delicious dessert for the virus that had no choice but to devour large bites.


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