Hello. Today we’ll see why Mayor Adams isn’t reinstating mask mandates despite another Covid-19 surge – and why some health experts disagree with him. Also: if you’re ambivalent about going back to the office, imagine how your dog feels.
As the number of new Covid-19 cases reported daily in New York exceeded 4,000 this week, the message the mayor seemed to be sending was: as you were. We have this.
He issued no public warning. It has not reinstated a mask mandate for public indoor environments, even though a new alert system it approved in March recommends doing so at the level of risk the city has now reached.
Even though schools across the city have asked — but haven’t demanded — that older students start wearing masks again, Mr. Adams has backtracked on his recent decision to leave unvaccinated students at proms.
Students can “celebrate all their hard work with a prom and graduation, regardless of their vaccination status,” he said in a press release, adding, “I encourage anyone who hasn’t not yet vaccinated to do so”.
Three main considerations underlie Mr. Adams’ approach, reports my colleague Emma G. Fitzsimmons: Hospitalizations and deaths have increased more slowly than in previous waves. Further restrictions could cost him politically with a weary public. And he fears the mandates will hurt restaurants, tourism and the city’s economic return.
“If every variation that comes, we go to shutdown thoughts, we go to panic, we’re not going to run like a city,” Adams said Wednesday.
Former city officials and many health experts disagree.
Health experts have argued that taking action when hospitals and health workers are overwhelmed or about to be — as Mr. Adams says he would — would be too late. Since most home tests are not counted in city statistics, it is likely that there are already many more new daily cases than the official tally. As of Tuesday, more than 770 city residents were hospitalized with Covid.
Dr Dave Chokshi, health commissioner under Mayor Bill de Blasio and during Mr Adams’ first months as mayor, said recently the city was acting on “collective amnesia”.
“People would say, ‘Well, it’s just the cases that are going up, let’s see what happens to the hospitalizations,'” he said. “It’s hard not to get your head exploding when you feel the public, and in many cases the political conversation, going in those circles. And you’re like, ‘Wow, when are we going to learn.'”
Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President, said the city should be more nimble and “turn protective measures on and off when we encounter a power surge.”
The messages from the town hall are mixed. Health Commissioner Dr Ashwin Vasan issued an order on Monday strongly recommending medical-grade masks in offices, grocery stores, schools and other indoor public places.
Mr. Adams pointed to the benefits of antiviral drugs like Paxlovid, which is free and available via home delivery to eligible city residents. His administration says it has distributed 35,000 antiviral treatments.
New Yorkers report mixed experiences with the drug helpline. For some, everything is going well, but for others, the process, which requires a video consultation on a smartphone and an order from an online pharmacy, is confusing. Others say they were denied prescriptions despite meeting the criteria.
Expect a partly sunny day, with a slight chance of showers and temperatures in the high 70s. The evening is partly cloudy, with temperatures in the mid-60s.
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Valid until May 26 (Solemnity of Ascension).
Court day in Buffalo
Payton S. Gendron, the gunman charged in Saturday’s massacre at a Buffalo supermarket, appeared in court on Thursday as prosecutors announced a grand jury had voted to indict him. Some relatives of the 10 people he is accused of killing watched.
Mr. Gendron, 18, pleaded not guilty. The judge adjourned the proceedings until June 9.
Mr. Gendron faces life in prison if convicted, and he continues to be held without bond, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said.
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Separation anxiety is rising for New Yorkers and their pandemic puppies
In April 2020 – ridiculously early, as we now know – the Wall Street Journal published a point/counterpoint on whether or not it was time for office workers to resume commuting.
The first play was “America Must Get Back to Work”. The author – pictured, as usual, in a classic black-and-white portrait from the Journal – was a cat. The line, by A Dog, was titled “Why not work from home forever?”
Now, for many dogs in New York, the worst is about to happen.
More than 23 million American households added a cat or dog during the pandemic. Many of these animals have never experienced what it’s like to be left alone all day. And while many cats may be thrilled with their newfound dominance, when it comes to dogs, it’s hard to tell who’s more anxious — them or their humans.
“We’ve had a lot of separations,” Kate Senisi, director of training at the school for dogs in Manhattan’s East Village, told my colleague John Leland.
Mary Sheridan, a lawyer from a small East Village apartment, compared her return to work – leaving her pandemic pup, Nala, behind for the first time – to the end of maternity leave with her now-old son Theo. 13 years.
“The panic that you would feel – Oh my God, I have this baby and I leave it all day,” she said.
Without a doubt, a warm dog nearby has eased the stress of many home workers.
Take Mishmish. Actually no. He is the best thing that has happened to our family, the miniature poodle we said we would never have and who arrived a few weeks after the pandemic. He was the main thing the kids were missing when they went back to school.
But when I’m on assignment all day, I suspect he’s mostly sleeping, storing up energy for a huge greeting. A neighbor who accompanied him the other day said he was perfectly happy to be dating a stranger. Maybe we lucked out in a dog that is the least neurotic member of the family.
Some dogs may walk, whine or chew things when left alone, trainers said.
But Raf Astor, who rides and walks dogs in the East Village, said the dogs he sees have adapted very well. It is for the people that he worries.
Huge weight lifted
I was waiting with my children at a B103 stop on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. My daughter, who was 6 at the time, found a gold ring on the floor. Even I could tell it wasn’t made of cheap plastic. Maybe an engagement ring?
“Somebody lost their ring,” my daughter said.
“They probably need it,” my son said.
Later that day, we returned to the bus stop and taped a flyer: “Found here: lost gold ring; clear gem. Text me a description and we’ll get it back to you.
Two days later, a text message arrived. The young woman who sent it said she had recently been dumped by her longtime boyfriend.
The ring was a gift from her, and in what she said was a moment of healthy self-awareness at the B103 stop, she had decided to drop it there.
When she did, she said, she felt a huge weight lift. She didn’t want the ring back, she added, but it was nice of us to give it away.
I read the text to my children. A long conversation about love, marriage, heartbreak and moving on ensued.
“What shall we do with the ring?” ” I asked.
In the end, we walked back to the bus stop, where my daughter placed the ring under a piece of concrete so it could stay lost.
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Submit your submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.