Coronavirus Journal: Day 17 of State of Emergency

Fresh snickerdoodles cooling on a rack.

I was reading the news yesterday and I saw that Cuomo had come down to New York City over the weekend and had expressed some concern over the numbers of people that were gathering in city parks in close proximity to each other. Like I predicted, he threatened to shut down the parks if people don’t start practicing the 6 foot physical distancing required by social distancing.

We can still go out. We can leave the city if we want. We can still get groceries and wander around for exercise. We can buy lotto tickets and hit the liquor store. There are lots of people out walking around like nothing is going on. It’s really weird. A weird contradiction.

I guess I thought a quarantine would require people to stay in their houses except for medical emergencies. Perhaps that’s what other people were thinking too and that’s why so many people were panic buying and stocking their pantries with weeks and months of supplies, because what we’re doing right now doesn’t make sense if it’s meant to stop the spread of the virus.

Every trip to the grocery store is a trip into an enclosed area where sick people might be. Checkout requires interacting in close proximity with someone who has been in contact with dozens or hundreds of people over the course of a work shift. When our car is up and running again, I’m going to go on a huge shopping trip so if this goes on for a few more months we can minimize contact with other people.

Each trip on the train is putting yourself in an enclosed space with poor ventilation, often in physical contact with other people. I haven’t been on the trains in a few days so maybe things have changed since last week, especially now that the 100% shutdown of non-essential businesses is in effect. Maybe not?

Anyway, the cases of coronavirus are skyrocketing. There are 25,665 cases in New York State and 14,904 cases in New York City as of a bit earlier today. 131 deaths in New York City according to De Blasio’s COVID-19 update today:

The numbers seem to be exploding, but all I get from this is that we should have started testing sooner and we should have shut down businesses and started social distancing sooner. We tried to put our pinky finger in the hole when the damn was already crumbling. Too late now.

An picture of a temporary closure notice at Ulta on 86th Street
Retail stores like Ulta, Sephora, H&M, and Banana Republic were all closed last week when I went to 86th Street. They’re definitely closed now with the new orders from the governor.

And is it really smart to keep people inside? I can’t help but wonder if anyone in my building has it. The air in apartment buildings travel from apartment to apartment. If one person gets it, it’s going to run through the entire apartment building more than likely.

President Trump has lost his mind again

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1242455267603877894?s=20

It’s hard to believe, or I guess not that hard to believe, that Trump wants people to just go back to work anyway as soon as possible, regardless of the virus and the consequences. He would rather just say to hell with it and tell Americans that millions of people are going to die due to the hospitals being overwhelmed, but that’s ok as long as the economy picks up again. Essentially, he’s prioritizing the stock market and rich people’s portfolios over the lives of American workers. That’s complete trash.

Instead of telling Americans they’re on their own, the government needs to cut those Trump Checks. And not just based on 2018 tax data, but for every single American citizen. You don’t even have to be a socialist to understand that not doing it is bad for the economy. And you don’t have to be a stable genius to know that putting Americans in a position where millions will die would be worse for the economy than the quarantine.

Silver lining to coronavirus shutdown:

I discovered this Twitter account, which is great!
  • getting more reading done
  • leveling up my cooking skills (cookies pictured above, for example)
  • blogging more
  • more progress in learning Japanese, Spanish, and Tagalog
  • finally doing yoga again
  • even playing some video games

I really want to ride my bike down 7th Avenue since there’s no traffic to speak of (if the Twitter and the news are accurate), but it’s not worth the risk. I don’t want to end up on a ventilator in an ICU because I wanted to ride my bike. I’m going to be pissed if I get coronavirus and didn’t ride my bike down 7th Avenue, though.

What’s next?

The number of cases is supposed to peak in 14 to 21 days. It can only get worse before it gets better, but hopefully, if we stay inside as much as possible, we’ll weather the pandemic.

Winnie the Pooh at the Charging Bull

The office building I work in is at Bowling Green. According to the New York City Parks website, “Bowling Green is New York City’s oldest park. According to tradition, this spot served as the council ground for Native American tribes and was the site of the legendary sale of Manhattan to Peter Minuit in 1626.” So, the area is a popular tourist attraction. The Smithsonian’s Native American museum also faces this park.

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The most popular attraction in the park seems to be the Charging Bull rather than the museum. Every day there are people crowding around this bronze statue to have their pictures taken with both its face and its balls. The balls seem to be more popular. I suppose that’s not surprising. The bull is supposed to represent the power and unpredictability of market forces and represents Wall Street and the Financial District.

Winnie the Pooh Costume Scammer

Winnie the Pooh Costume Scammer

This week I spotted a new arrival: a Christmas themed Winnie the Pooh and accompanying muscle, presumably to strong-arm tourists into giving up money after taking a photo with the costumed person. This is a pretty common thing in the Times Square area and became a point of public conversation during the debate over topless women posing for photos in Times Square in exchange for cash. I’d never seen them in the Bowling Green area, though, and after that one time I never saw them again. I wonder if they were driven out by the police, by crowds of tourists telling them to get out of the way so they could take photos with the Bull, or by the police, or some combination of those three?

Regardless, I’m glad to see those two assholes gone. The crowds of tourists around the office building can be aggravating, because they obviously aren’t in a hurry during my lunch break and they sometimes block the sidewalk, but it’s understandable and I can’t be mad at them for coming to this city and having a good time. These people that dress in costumes and strong-arm people into taking photos with them and giving them cash afterwards, though? They’re parasites and they’re disgusting. It’s better than outright robbery, but not by much. I hope they stay gone.

Riverbank State Park at Sunset

Another spot I enjoy walking to and in is Riverbank State Park. The park is an elevated, artificial park that is built onto the side of Manhattan island. To get to it, you have to walk over one of two bridges, or by walking up a few flights of stairs from the Hudson River Greenway below.

Riverbank Park has a pool, a track, tennis courts, indoor basketball courts, a roller skating rink, a restaurant and I think a cultural center. Kind of hard to believe it’s all built on an artificial, elevated platform.

Walking down there is about 2.25 miles. It’s a great place to stop, use the bathroom, and take in the sights before turning around and heading back home. I don’t know that I’d want to have a picnic there, though there are certainly facilities for it. I think Fort Tryon Park is a much nicer place to go for that. But, it would be a great place to sit down and read a book for a while. The breeze there is nice, since it’s over the water.

Bad News For New York City Smokers Tomorrow

Notice stating that there is no smoking allowed in NYC parks after May 23rd.

The acceptable areas for smoking just got a lot narrow, but I can’t really argue with this.  I mean, I still smoke, though I’m planning on getting around to quitting sometime soon, but even so, I can’t be upset about this.  People that don’t smoke have a right to not inhale second hand smoke.  That’s the whole point of not smoking right?  Still, it’s gonna be kind of sad that I can’t lean back on a park bench and enjoy a cigarette while watching all the people pass by anymore.

This reminds me of something I was told by a guy in Japan.  I don’t remember who it was now, but he was saying that in Japan, they banned smoking outdoors, but not indoors.  He said the reasoning is that it’s all about choice.  If you’re a non-smoker, you can choose to not go into a smoking establishment, but you can’t choose to not walk outside.  So, you ban smoking outdoors, but leave smoking indoors up to the establishment owner.  To me, that makes a lot more sense.

Given the Japanese stance on smoking, it makes me wonder how much freedom and choice we really have in this country.  Smoking isn’t illegal, but pretty soon it might be illegal to smoke anywhere.  I remember hearing a story a few months ago about a housing development where people were complaining that they could smell the smoke from neighboring units.  Would it be fair to ban smoking in an entire apartment building?  I can imagine a no smoking policy for new tenants, but could you really ask people to move out if they don’t stop smoking?