US President Joe Biden announced in a statement on Thursday that the United States had passed the milestone of one million deaths from Covid-19. However, the country seems to want to turn the page on the pandemic, like the city of New York, which seems to be regaining its legendary effervescence.
The United States crossed the threshold of one million deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, the White House announced, but, like New York brought to its knees in 2020, the country wants to turn the page on the pandemic. “We must remain vigilant in the face of this pandemic and do all we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have done with more tests, vaccines and treatments than ever before,” the President said. Joe Biden in a statement. After several months of decline in the coronavirus pandemic in the officially most bereaved country in the world (ahead of Brazil, India and Russia), the United States has been recording a daily increase in the number of cases for the past month.
The country that lifted the mask requirement, now only advised indoors, is seeing a rebound in the number of cases due to Omicron subvariants. However, its effects seem less serious on a population completely vaccinated at 66%, and more than 90% for those over 65, while a fourth dose of vaccine is only open for the moment to those over 50. years. After more than two years of pandemic and several waves of variants, the United States however intends to turn the page on Covid-19.
“The Return” of New York
Thus New York, an economic and cultural magnet, seems to have regained its legendary effervescence. New Yorkers, American and foreign tourists return to the theaters of Broadway, photograph themselves under the giant digital advertising signs of Times Square, climb the Statue of Liberty, ride in carriages in Central Park, on foot and by bike on the bridge from Brooklyn, rush to the most beautiful museums in northern Manhattan…
So many attractions that have been gradually reopening since 2021 and have made the world reputation of the megalopolis of 8.4 million souls. Midday and evening, the traffic is again hellish in the center of Manhattan, its financial and commercial lung. The queues are getting longer in front of the tens of thousands of restaurants, stalls, take-out trucks for white-collar and blue-collar workers. The trendiest terraces in Manhattan and Brooklyn are once again crowded. “We’ve been waiting for this return from New York for a long time,” breathes Alfred Cerullo, who heads Grand Central Partnership, a pro-business lobby in Manhattan. “Without a doubt, he told AFP, you can feel the energy of people in the street”.
A city marked by the pandemic
The contrast is striking with the nightmarish spring of 2020. Epicenter of the pandemic, the “city that never sleeps” had been emptied for weeks, deserted like in a science fiction film. The huge arteries of Manhattan and Brooklyn were animated only by the anxiety-provoking sirens of the emergency services, with overwhelmed hospitals and morgues forced to store the bodies of Covid victims in refrigerated trucks.
Janice Maloof-Tomaso, a nurse who worked near Boston at the time, recalls that many caregivers could not bear to “see death”. “Some were traumatized, and many left.” Around 40,000 New Yorkers have lost their lives to Covid since the spring of 2020 and both the island of Manhattan and the gigantic neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens bear the scars of the pandemic.
New Yorkers who remain on their guard
Lacking customers for months, thousands of small businesses have gone out of business, their windows still covered with wooden boards or posters of real estate agents. Among these small store owners, Frank Tedesco runs a jewelry store in the very upscale Westchester County, north of the Bronx. He confides to AFP that he saved his shop in 2020 thanks to public aid and his own heritage, but he feels “obviously worried” because he does not “know what will happen” and how he could support a another economic “shock” caused by a return of the epidemic.
New Yorkers remain on their guard. The mask is still very common on the street and indoors – and mandatory in transport. And teleworking has become a habit: according to the weekly barometer of the security company Kastle, the occupancy rate of offices in New York still peaks at 38%. The boss of the investment bank Goldman Sachs, David Solomon, acknowledged on May 2 that the rate of employees returning to the office barely reached 50 to 60% of the workforce, against 80% present before the Covid.