WASHINGTON - New Yorkers are fighting the coronavirus in any way they can: respecting the government directives, recommendations by health authorities and trying to stay strong in the face of calamity as they did in the wake of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Many New Yorkers, like people around the world, derive strength from their families. So, it is not surprising that some couples refused to postpone their wedding plans and took their vows wearing gloves or protective masks in ceremonies performed by an official standing at a distance.
Unseasonably warm weather Friday drew many New Yorkers to parks for jogging, riding bicycles and playing outdoor with their children.
But the city’s life is far from normal, said scholar Kannan Srinivasan who has been doing a lot of research at a specialized department of the New York Public Library.
“I knew this place might shut down any day, so I went through an elaborate procedure to check out the books that I normally use there, and brought them home so I could continue working,” Srinivasan told VOA in an email. “But a lot of my time has been wasted on watching the news, trying to follow precautions and so on. So, I’ve done very little work,” he said, adding that his wife also will have to start working from home this week and he is worried they might get on each other’s nerves.
But Srinivasan told VOA both he and his wife are impressed with the response by their governor, Andrew Cuomo, and mayor, Bill de Blasio.
The numbers are growing by the hour. New York state had nearly 16,000 confirmed cases, up from 5,100 confirmed Friday and 800 just more than a week ago.
The United States has more than 33,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 400 confirmed deaths, 117 of them in New York state, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine on Sunday night.
Cuomo, New York state’s governor, has placed a lot of blame on the slow response by the Trump administration, especially a delay in approving COVID-19 tests. Cuomo confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in New York City on March 1.
The federal government authorized New York City to create its own test on March 11. Since then New York has conducted 45,000 tests.
In an effort to curb the spread, Cuomo ordered workers in nonessential fields to stay at home, starting Sunday night. Essential businesses that will remain open include grocery stores, pharmacies and public transit. Schools have been closed across the country as well as in New York.
The New York restrictions came as some hospitals struggled with shortages of safety masks, breathing ventilators and other health supplies.
De Blasio, the city’s mayor, Sunday called on U.S President Donald Trump to turn the making and distributing of medical supplies over to the U.S. military.
“I can’t be blunt enough. If the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise,” de Blasio told NBC's “Meet the Press.”
Hours later, Trump said he had ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship mobile hospital centers to Washington, California and New York. For New York, that would mean another 1,000 hospital beds. The president also ordered one of the U.S. Navy’s hospital ships to New York Harbor.
On Sunday, New York surpassed Washington state in the number of fatal cases.
And the governor told hospitals to find a way to expand the number of beds by half because predictions from health officials are that COVID-19 cases needing advanced medical care will top 100,000 in New York state in the coming weeks.