New York Has Contained the Virus. How Long Can It Last?


Weather: Sunny and mild in the morning, but look out for afternoon thunderstorms. High around 80.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Sept. 7 (Labor Day). Read about the amended regulations here.


These days, it feels like there are two different ways to think about life in New York.

There is the relief that, week after week, the coronavirus has been kept under control, even as other states that once contained their outbreaks have seen spikes in the number of new virus cases.

Then there is the fear that it may just be a matter of time before New York sees a resurgence in the virus.

The juxtaposition of the two viewpoints has become increasingly glaring as the fall approaches and brings the threat of a second wave of infections.

My colleague J. David Goodman talked to epidemiologists, public health officials and infectious disease specialists about the state’s stability — and whether it could be sustained.

[A resurgence may be inevitable, despite the state’s and city’s best efforts, experts say.]

The current levels of infection have surprised state and city officials: Around 1 percent of the roughly 30,000 tests each day in the city are positive for the virus. Compare that to Los Angeles, where the number is 7 percent, and Houston, where it is 15 percent.

The experts said the success could be attributed in large part to how New Yorkers reacted to the devastating outbreak in the spring, when sometimes thousands of people died per day.

State officials shut down schools and businesses. People generally wore face masks, and those who could sheltered in their homes.

And the reopening has been cautious: Officials reversed course on allowing indoor dining and gathering at bars after finding that those activities were connected to outbreaks in other parts of the country.

As a result, the rise in cases that some models predicted for the summer never happened.

There are a number of threats, officials and experts say.

Models predict a rise in the early fall as the weather cools, people move indoors and schools open back up. Challenges remain in contact tracing and in forcing people to quarantine after they arrive from high-infection areas out of state.

[New York has a 14-day quarantine. Many New Yorkers are ignoring it.]

And the virus’s containment could prompt people to loosen up about masks and social distancing.

“My concern is complacency,” the city’s former top public health official, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, said in an interview last month. Dr. Barbot resigned last week and voiced “deep disappointment” with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s response to the pandemic.


On Friday, we reported that the National September 11 Memorial & Museum said its Tribute in Light would not shine next month because of health and safety concerns. It takes a team of about 40 stagehands and electricians working close together on the installation for more than a week to get it ready.

But over the weekend, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that New York State would provide the health personnel and supervision so that the display, which has memorialized the attacks on the World Trade Center towers since 2002, could safely continue, The Times’s Aimee Ortiz reported.

“We’ve had conversations with many interested parties and believe we will be able to stage the tribute in a safe and appropriate fashion,” Alice M. Greenwald, the president and chief executive of the museum, said in a statement on Twitter.

The tribute, near ground zero, features 88 specially made lights used to create twin beams that tower over the city until dawn on Sept. 12. The museum has produced it for the past eight years.

It’s Monday — shine on.


Dear Diary:

On my usual evening walk through Riverside Park, I saw a man standing on one of the paths in a densely wooded area. He was calling a name over and over and scanning the branches above.

“Are you looking for a bird?” I said as I passed.

“Yes,” he said. “A parrot. It’s kind of gray with a reddish tail.”

Casting my eyes upward, and dourly assessing the man’s chances of ever finding the bird in all the trees, I smiled gamely.

“Wow,” I said. “That must be hard. Good luck finding your bird.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said, his eyes brightening. “It’s not mine. But the owner is offering a $1,000 reward.”

— Barak Zimmerman


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