Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio both warned that New York is headed towards a second full shutdown if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue at their current rate.
“The increase in hospitalizations could overwhelm some regions if nothing changes by January,” said the Governor at his Monday virus briefing. “If we do not change the trajectory, we could very well be headed to shut down.”
The state reported an increase of over 1,000 hospitalizations this past week, totaling 5,712. The Governor said if this pace continues, it will be at 11,000 in a month. The increase is especially concerning in dense regions like NYC, Cuomo noted. He shut down the city’s indoor dining on Monday, even as he cited statistics showing that three-fourths of new COVID-19 cases come from private gatherings.
De Blasio reiterated the grim forecast on Monday, alerting city residents to prepare emotionally and practically for “the potential of having to do a full pause, a full shutdown, in the coming weeks.” The mayor went on to say “folks who don’t need to be going into a workplace at this point should do as much as they can remotely.”
Eight hospitals across the five boroughs have reached over 90 percent capacity of their intensive care units, above the thresholds laid out by the mayor’s office. Cuomo said he would declare a “full shutdown” if case and hospitalization rates signal that a region’s hospital capacity will reach 90 percent within three weeks. It would be similar to the PAUSE order issued in March, which shuttered non-essential businesses and schools and prohibited most gatherings.
We spoke with local business owner Lester Wasserman, owner of West NYC and son of Danny Wasserman, who operates Tip Top Shoes next door. “Obviously we don’t like it,” he said in regards to the potential shut down. “They always say follow the science but it didn’t work the first time, so why would it work the second time?” Wasserman has observed more people than ever wearing masks but the numbers continue to rise and he doesn’t believe it’s a science-based decision. Wasserman, who changed the layout of his store to allow greater distancing for customers to shop, says he is concerned about possible layoffs and lost revenue. “It’s a really ugly thing to think about.”
Jennifer Bergman of West Side Kids on the corner of 84th and Amsterdam told ILTUWS she was surprised a shutdown hasn’t already happened. Bergman was proactive back in March and closed West Side Kids a week early, saying “I don’t want anyone getting sick on my watch.” Bergman said if a closure does go into effect that she would come into work alone, legally, since she’s the business owner, and do curbside pickup and web orders. “I won’t technically close like we did in March, where we completely shut down and weren’t open for two months. But my staff will have to go back on unemployment and I’ll lose a lot more business to the internet.”
Fortunately, Bergman and West Side Kids has gotten some recent media attention as a small business fighting for survival. The store was featured on NBC Nightly News and CBS News, and will be on WCBS with Joe Connolly later this week. “It’s been great, we’re getting orders from all over the country.”
Unfortunately, NYC has lost many beloved businesses during the pandemic and the list continues to grow. Here’s a send-off to the many places, big and small, that closed in 2020, assembled by Curbed.