New York, more than in any country in the world, has been the city most affected by the pandemic covid-19 with nearly 160-thousand confirmed cases in the state and close to 8 thousand dead after spending 40 days after the onset of the first case in the largest city in the united States.
Why the Big Apple and its surrounding area of 19 million people has been so affected by the pandemic, and it is possible that the authorities have underestimated and slow to take radical measures?
What was New York city’s most vulnerable?
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s repeated it many times. The city of New York, with a population of 8.6 million people, is a megalopolis of a high population density, with more than 10 thousand inhabitants per square kilometer. An environment that is conducive to the spread of infectious diseases, as well as the City of Mexico by the population density. In addition, millions used daily by the public transport.
It is also one of the first tourist destinations world: it receives every year more than 60 million tourists. According to experts in genetics in the u.s., the virus came from Europe to New York in February.
A study published in march by education blog Clever ranked New York as the city’s “most vulnerable” to the hiv epidemic in the country, ahead of San Francisco, Washington, Detroit and Miami. The metropolis is characterized by strong socio-economic inequalities and overcrowding in some popular neighborhoods of Queens or the traditional Bronx, where many new yorkers have health problems and do not have access to medical care.
These neighborhoods, where they live millions of hispanics, are most affected by the coronavirus. The rate of infection in the Bronx, for example, twice that of Manhattan, that is to say, recorded thousand 273 cases per 100 thousand inhabitantsagainst 611 in the Big Apple.
“With the density, the overcrowding, the poverty, New York complied with all prerequisites to sustain the hypothesis that it would be hit with a lot of harshness,” stressed dr. Irwin Redlener, professor of public health at Columbia University.
Do you underestimate the risk the authorities?
On march 2 confirmed the first case in New York and the next day, when detecting the other in New Rochelle, in the suburbs, governor Cuomo stated that the city has “the best health care system on the planet”. “We do not think that the situation here can be as bad as in other countries,” he said then.
After many doubts, the mayor Bill de Blasio announced the closure of public schools, bars and restaurants on the 16th of march. The governor decreed the confinement and the close of all activities not essential a week later, on march 22. What took too much? The experts are reluctant to criticize.
“The mayor and the governor were subject to pressures to the contrary,” said Irwin. “Some pressured to quickly close the schools“, “others highlighted the economic and social consequences” of the decision, he added. “The messages were confusing”.
Do you react better to other states?
California, the most populous state in the country, is quoted many times as an example for the fast reaction to the epidemic. On Friday, he registered 20 thousand 200 cases and 50 deaths.
“What is remarkable, is that the six counties of the region of San Francisco, joined the march 16 to issue a confinement order”, followed by an order of isolation throughout the state on the 19th of march, underlines Meghan McGinty, expert in disaster prevention of the Johns Hopkins University.
“There was a real coherence”, while in the region of new york, each county took their decisions without coordination, he said. It took six days between the closure of schools and the order of isolation in New York, he recalled. “In terms of the epidemic, six days are light years (…) A posteriori we can say that New York waited too much.”
Who is to blame?
The mayor and the governor of New York deplore from weeks ago the initial delay of the government of Donald Trump to send test to the states, are still insufficient to know the true extent of the pandemic.
When the deaths from the coronavirus outweigh the the attacks of September 11, 2001, that left 2 thousand 753 deaths in New York, the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, also very affected, he asked that a commission like the one created after the September 11, analyze the mistakes.
“There were warning signs, what happened?”, said Friday Cuomo. “No response, how can we make sure that will not be repeated?”.
In the wake of the enormous number of people affected and the millions without employment “we have a moral obligation” to analyze what happened, ” said Meghan McGinty.