Many of those answers, great and small, are already visible.
In Long Island City, where 18-year-old Ferdinand Stirling greeted the closing of his high school with approval — “It was lit,” he said — the pause allowed him to make music and “grow so much as a musician in the past few months,” he said. Likewise, in nearby Sunnyside, Gero Eaton, 30, has made some money selling his kaleidoscopic splatter paintings, which he displayed on the streets outside his studio.
“I look at it as a way to keep me sane,” he said.
In Sunset Park, a group of friends beat back the worries of the day by stringing a volleyball net across 51st Street and grabbing a ball.
“It’s a way to get out the stress,” said Wilson Idrouo, 40.
They have one firm rule: Unless you’re talking about one of the cold bottles of beer in the case nearby, there will be no mention of the word “corona.”
In Greenwich Village, Willa Kiritz, 72, and her husband, Anthony Blanche, 88, bring their lifetimes of experience to the city’s current troubles.
“Just wear the bloody masks and let’s get on with this,” Ms. Kiritz said. The empty streets and shuttered businesses alarm her, calling to mind tough times in the 1980s. But she and her husband ventured outside to a restaurant “the minute” they reopened, she said.
Mr. Blanche deployed the New Yorker’s sturdy what-are-you-gonna-do shrug. “I don’t think I’m too worried,” he said. “I know I’m not going to get out of here alive.”
Jo Corona, Nate Schweber and Matthew Sedacca contributed reporting.