We can say that the evil eye has been cast upon the world’s busiest tourist hub, the apple of the United States’ eye, New York City.
While the number of Americans that have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. is over 10,000, nearly half are from New York state. So why does New York state have the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths? Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there are two reasons why New York City has such a high number of victims: It is an important city that attracts international visitors, and it has a dense social structure.
In fact, Cuomo mentioned that the coronavirus might have arrived in New York City much earlier. In other words, he said before the outbreak in Europe, New York City might have been infected by the virus soon after it first emerged in Wuhan.
Let’s talk a little about my observations in New York City over the past few days. I had the opportunity to walk around with my mask on, and where once only the sounds of ambulances and sirens could be heard, the streets have become unrecognizable. I can say that I saw only five people in Times Square, a location normally filled with hundreds of thousands of people. A mobile hospital has been built in Central Park, one of the most popular places in the city. The New Yorkers I have talked to feel perplexed and upset.
The U.S. Army has settled in Javits Center, which has more than 2 million visitors annually, and established a hospital. According to an Army statement, 750 requests have been received from other states requesting mobile hospitals. Similarly, the military hospital ship, USNS Comfort, that President Donald Trump proudly sent off from Virginia to New York Harbor, has begun to give service with a bed capacity of 1,000. In New Rochelle, a county 30 minutes from New York City, soldiers have set up tents to perform new coronavirus testing and begun to distribute food to the public. The roads of Wall Street, where I have worked for many years, are empty, and restaurants that are normally packed for lunch, are closed. I spoke to some police officers of Turkish origin working for the New York Police Department (NYPD), who were also wearing gloves and masks. They said they feel down because 5,000 people from the NYPD have requested sick leave and 1,000 have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Despite this, brave NYPD officers continue to do their jobs and support health care workers.
With some airlines bringing volunteer health care workers from other states to New York, I cannot say that those in New York are doing well either. Nurses held a protest in front of the well-known hospital Mount Sinai the other day, claiming, “Our lives are on the line. We have a severe shortage of equipment.” In a word, people feel down in the Big Apple.
Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have been criticizing Trump in their daily statements regarding the lack of medical equipment. The president responded to the criticism by saying, “I am doing my best. I have had four mobile hospitals established. I am dispatching 1,000 new soldiers as well as ventilators. You should put the blame on the former government.” With that response, I can say that we also witnessing a political war in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
What I see clearly is that Trump is expecting gratitude from the governor and the mayor. It is also clear that the federal government is sending immense support to New York.
It is quite worrying that the New York governor shares the modeling of the Bill Gates Foundation in almost every meeting and states that they estimate the probable death of 16,000 New Yorkers. It will take a long time for the city to recover. As the governor of New York says: "We’re going to get through this because we are #NewYorkTough."
When will it end?
Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House Coronavirus Task Force says they use health data to model the number of cases and deaths. According to this source, it is predicted that on April 16, 2,644 people will die (peak period); between April 8 and April 26, an average of more than 2,000 people per day will die; and a total of 93,531 people are expected to die by Aug. 4.
Nine out of 10 people in the U.S. are scared of the new coronavirus. The survey, conducted by ABC News and Ipsos Group S.A., stated that 89% of Americans are worried about being infected by the virus, 91% believe their lifestyles have been changed, 72% have postponed or canceled their programs and 56% do not believe that life will return to normal before July 1. As far as we have observed, it seems that we are entering a period in which a new culture and order will rule over the U.S.
*President of the Turkish Heritage Organization and a 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient