The death toll in New York’s corona virus exceeds that of September 11

Apr 4, 2020 1:30 AM ET

Medical workers wait for patients in a dedicated coronavirus area at Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park, Brooklyn. | Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The state of New York reached a miserable milestone on Friday.

In almost five weeks, the corona virus killed more New Yorkers than the terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. And the number of fatalities is likely to increase only by leaps and bounds.


The terrorists killed about 2,700 people in New York State. The corona virus has so far killed 2,935 citizens – mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters – a severe burden that affects the state’s morgues and undertakers.

The symbolism of this milestone and its possible impact on New York will not be lost for those living here in the American epicenter of the disease.

“We lived in paradise, didn’t we, in this wonderful city?” asked Julia Vitullo-Martin, an Upper West Sider who writes about cities. “We had dance, theater, opera, we had everything, great sport. And suddenly not anymore … Many things are not reopened. “

Kathryn Wylde, president of the corporate-sponsored New York City partnership, wondered if New York City’s premise would fully recover if the New York City premise were a crowd that lives in search of work, culture, and cheek. Entertainment – could survive.

“This is a kind of malaise and persistent fear and a feeling of vulnerability that could change the culture,” said Wyde. “It’s not the number of deaths, it’s the experience itself.”

In the 1990s, theorists speculated that New York City and urbanism would perish with the advent of the Internet. Those who could would work from home. The city, with its teeming subways and streets littered with garbage, would be a thing of the past.

“It was a real fear for several years until it turned out that all young people and their computers decided to be in a dense, diverse environment,” said Wylde. “The question is now, will that have changed?”

Stu Loeser, a spokesman for the former mayor Michael Bloomberg, wondered the same thing.

“Suddenly, the idea of ​​half a hectare of land 40 miles outside the city and commuting is no longer so bad,” said Loeser. After calling POLITICO, he was greeted with an ad on the New York Times website announcing the allure of life in a town on the Hudson River north of the city: “Bye Bye Brooklyn. Hello beacon, “it said.

The questions that New York City is facing are endless.

Will the New Yorkers tentatively reappear after this wave of coronavirus subsides, each with its own agoraphobia? Given the proven feasibility of teleworking, will employers find that they need as much office space as they used to? Will the new office towers and apartment towers that are now rising turn out to be bad gambling? After we all learn how to cook at home, will New Yorkers eat out as much as before? Will the catering industry recover? Will the storefront retail that has already been undermined by e-commerce finally give up the ghost?

“The corner shops have already closed, and I’m afraid this will be a death blow to them,” said Christina Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University.

In the meantime, the death toll will continue to rise – some models predict it will reach 16,000. The psychological stress is likely to be permanent and profound.

John Mollenkopf, director of the CUNY Center for Urban Research, has already lost two friends to the disease. As he spoke to POLITICO, he looked out of the window – the same window through which he saw the Twin Towers fall and new buildings rise in their wake.

“The baby boom entering our golden years will be much less of us … the virus solves one of our problems,” he said. “The cost of an aging society.”

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