Brooklyn restaurants are closing one after another due to a surge in contamination, queues to get tested are growing: New York fears it will relive the nightmare of 2020, when the city was the world’s epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic.
On Saturday evening, New York State, the fourth most populous in the country with some 20 million inhabitants, announced for the second consecutive day a record of positive cases for the coronavirus, with nearly 22,000 infections.
In Brooklyn, since the end of the week, in fashionable Greenpoint, more than a dozen bars and restaurants have temporarily lowered the curtain after sudden cases among their employees or customers.
Near McCarren Park, about 30 people line up in front of a parked medical van that offers rapid tests.
“It looks a lot like March 2020,” blows Spencer Reiter, 27, a resident of the neighborhood, working in finance and coming to be tested with his friend Katie Connolly, a student, because their friends are positive for COVID-19.
” Really crazy ”
“Seeing these lines (…) it’s as if everything was starting over again,” he told AFPTV, his partner finding “that really crazy”.
It must be said that New York was brought to its knees by the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.
The megalopolis of 8.5 million inhabitants, long nicknamed “the city that never sleeps”, had been completely deserted for weeks, like in a science fiction film.
The immense avenues of Manhattan were animated only by the anxiety-provoking sirens of the emergency services, with overwhelmed hospitals and morgues forced to store the bodies of victims in refrigerated trucks.
At least 34,000 New Yorkers have lost their lives since the spring of 2020 and the city, especially Manhattan, has never really regained its legendary effervescence before the health crisis.
” Back to square one ”
“We are in fact back to square one, maybe even much worse” than in March 2020, alarms Jolanta Czerlanis, a 54-year-old Polish woman, who came to be tested because she felt some symptoms.
“It is very scary and it is very worrying because we hoped that it would get better”, says this employee in the restaurant.
And nervousness has gained the United States over the very rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. President Joe Biden on Thursday predicted a “winter of serious illness and death” for unvaccinated people.
On December 1, the number of daily new cases nationwide was on average 86,000; on December 14, it was 117,000, an increase of about 35% in two weeks. And in the country officially the most bereaved in the world by this pandemic, the death toll from Covid-19 has exceeded 800,000 on Tuesday since 2020, according to the report from Johns Hopkins University.
The variant “Omicron has arrived”, also notes New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We have to admit it: he is moving very quickly and we have to be faster,” the democratic councilor told CNN on Friday, a few days before his handover on January 1 with his elected successor, Eric Adams.
Mr. de Blasio imposed compulsory vaccination on municipal officials, as well as from December 27, in principle, on the entire private sector, ie 184,000 businesses and businesses. But nothing says Mr. Adams will enforce this decision.
Panic on Broadway
Just before Christmas, while New York awaited the return of its tourists, panic in the famous theater and musical district of Broadway where the cancellations of performances are increasing, because of positive cases within the troops.
Last victim Friday evening, the next four shows of the “Rockettes” at Radio City Music Hall were canceled due to “the growing difficulties of the pandemic”, according to the production.
As for the musical “Hamilton”, it was canceled without warning Thursday evening: “We really came by plane for a day only to see + Hamilton”, protested annoyed in front of AFPTV Dara and Myron Abston, a couple from Michigan.
And Saturday night, at Manhattan’s Rockefeller Plaza, the famous entertainment show Saturday Night Live announced that it would be shot without an audience and with a small crew.
Edouard Massih, who runs a Lebanese grocery store in Brooklyn, remains open for the moment, but he fears that this wave of COVID-19 will cause a new exodus of inhabitants to the north of New York, in green and upscale suburbs, as was the case in 2020 when the island of Manhattan emptied.