the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Rhys Marschke ’24
(Image Credit: Nkon21-Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Creative Commons)
It is safe to say that ‘the city that never sleeps’ is not deserving of its nickname any longer. New York City is the largest city in the United States by a margin of nearly 5 million people and the world’s 10th-largest city. It is known to be the cultural, financial and media capital of the world, as well as a place where dreams become a reality for many people. Bias aside, there is a reason people oftentimes call New York City the best city in the world. However, the COVID-19 outbreak has maimed the Big Apple in ways that no one would have expected.
The city has racked up 783,000 cases as of Nov. 6. Back on March 7, with only 76 cases reported, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency. Businesses shut down, the wealthy residents fled to second homes in the Hamptons and upstate New York and the ‘city of dreams’ was asleep for the first time in its history. As time went on, more and more essential pieces of New York were shut down, like the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which has been held every year since 1762. More significantly, the subways shuttered from 1 to 5 a.m. daily for cleaning — the largest source of public transportation for city residents. On March 14, shortly after all events involving more than 500 people were canceled indefinitely, New York experienced its first coronavirus-related death. It was time to batten down the hatches for New Yorkers. On March 20, the state was put on complete lockdown: shutting down all schools, closing 100% of nonessential businesses statewide, canceling and banning nonessential gatherings of any size and instituting a 6-foot social distancing rule in any public setting. Elections and tax deadlines were pushed back in hopes that the greatest city in the world would return to normalcy.
As of now, New York City is in a clear economic collapse, and a number of people are left wondering if the five boroughs will ever be the same. The fear of a ‘second wave’ of infections is something that has everyone scrambling, and the government in constant search of the line between safety and normalcy. The nonprofit Partnership for New York City has estimated that one-third of small businesses in the city may never reopen. These closures would be a big hit to the New York economy, considering these businesses are responsible for more than 2.7 million jobs, with payrolls totaling nearly $127 billion a year. Not only would the government be losing substantial tax revenue, but the unemployment rate would skyrocket, with more than an estimated 900,000 people left without jobs post-virus. This gloomy forecast is alarming to longtime New York residents because they fear the energy and atmosphere of the place they call home may never reach what it once was.
While there is still time for New York to return to the promised land, there is no doubt that a lot needs to happen. This pandemic has affected everyone, and while we cannot alter the past, we can shape the future. It is crucial to be one in this time of helplessness and remember where you came from and the company you keep. And most importantly, stay positive, knowing we’ve experienced the worst already. Maya Angelou said: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”