Good morning. Today we’ll look at why Mayor Adams isn’t reinstating mask mandates despite another wave of Covid-19 — and why some health experts disagree. 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 each day in New York City surpassed 4,000 this week, the message the mayor seemed to be sending was as you were. We have this.
He gave no public warnings. He has not reinstated a mask mandate for indoor public environments, although a new warning system he approved in March recommends doing so at the level of risk the city has now reached.
Even when city schools asked—but didn’t demand—that older students wear masks again, Mr. Adams let his recent decision to let students go to senior proms unvaccinated.
Students can “celebrate all their hard work with a prom and graduation regardless of vaccination status,” he said in a press release, adding, “I encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so.”
Three main considerations lie behind Mr Adams’ approach, reports my colleague Emma G. Fitzsimmons: Hospital admissions and deaths have risen more slowly than in previous waves. New restrictions could cost him political money with a tired audience. And he worries that mandates could hurt restaurants, tourism and the city’s economic comeback.
“If we get into shutdown thoughts with every variant that comes, we panic, we’re not going to function as a city,” said Mr. Adam’s Wednesday.
Former city officials and many health experts disagree.
Health experts have argued that taking action when hospitals and health professionals are overwhelmed or on the brink – as Mr. Adams says he would – would be too late. Since most home tests are not counted in the city statistics, it is likely that there are already many more new daily cases than the official count. More than 770 city residents were hospitalized with Covid on Tuesday.
dr. Dave Chokshi, the health commissioner under Mayor Bill de Blasio and during Mr. Adams’s early months as mayor, recently said the city was acting against “collective amnesia.”
“People would say, ‘Well, it’s just cases that are increasing. Let’s see what happens with hospitalizations,'” he said. “It’s hard not to explode when you feel the public, and in many cases the political conversation, going in those circles. And you think, ‘Wow, when are we going to learn it.’”
Manhattan’s president Mark Levine said the city needs to be more agile and “turn protective measures on and off when we get a wave.”
Mixed messages are coming from the town hall. The health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, issued an order on Monday strongly recommending medical-grade masks in offices, supermarkets, schools and other indoor public settings.
Mr. Adams has highlighted the benefits of antiviral drugs such as Paxlovid, which is free and available through home delivery to eligible city residents. His government says it has distributed 35,000 antiviral treatments.
New Yorkers report mixed experiences with the drug hotline. For some, everything goes smoothly, but others find the process, which requires a video smartphone consultation and ordering from an online pharmacy, confusing. Others say they were not given prescriptions despite meeting the criteria.
Expect a partly sunny day, with a small chance of showers and temperatures in the low 70s. The evening will be partly cloudy, with temperatures in the mid 60s.
ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING
Valid until May 26 (Solemnity of Ascension).
Day in court in Buffalo
Payton S. Gendron, the gunman accused in Saturday’s massacre at a Buffalo supermarket, appeared in court on Thursday, when prosecutors announced that a grand jury had voted to indict him. Some relatives of the 10 people he allegedly accused of murder watched.
Mr Gendron, 18, has pleaded not guilty. The judge adjourned the case until June 9.
Mr. Gendron faces life imprisonment if convicted, and he continues to be held without bail, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said.
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Separation Anxiety Grows for New Yorkers and Their Pandemic Puppies
In April 2020 – laughably early, as we now know – The Wall Street Journal published a point/counterpoint on whether it was time for office workers to resume their commutes.
The first piece was “America has to go back to work”. The author—as usually depicted in a classic Journal black-and-white dot portrait—was A Cat. The answer, by A Dog, was headlined, “Why not work from home forever?”
Now for many of the dogs in New York the worst is happening.
More than 23 million American households have added a cat or dog during the pandemic. Many of those animals have never known what it is like to be left alone all day. And while many cats may be overjoyed at their new reign, with dogs it’s hard to tell who’s more anxious: them or their humans.
“A lot of divorce cases have come in,” Kate Senisi, the director of education at School for the Dogs in Manhattan’s East Village, told my colleague John Leland.
Mary Sheridan, a lawyer with a small apartment in the East Village, likened her return to work — leaving her pandemic puppy, Nala, behind for the first time — to the end of her maternity leave with her son Theo, now 13.
“The panic you’d feel – Oh my god, I’ve got this baby, and I’m leaving the baby alone all day,” she said.
No doubt having a warm dog around has eased the stress for many home workers.
Take Mishmish. Not really. He is the best thing that could happen to our family, the miniature poodle we said we would never get that arrived within weeks of the pandemic. He was the most important thing the kids missed when they went back to school.
But if I’m reporting all day, I suspect he’s usually asleep and storing energy for a huge greeting. A neighbor who recently took him out said he was very happy to go out with a stranger. Maybe we just got lucky with a dog who is the least neurotic member of the family.
Some dogs may pace, whine or chew things if left alone, trainers said.
But Raf Astor, who walks in and out dogs in the East Village, said the dogs he sees have adapted just fine. It’s the people he cares about.
Huge weight lifted
I was waiting with my kids at a B103 stop on Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue. 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?
“Someone has lost his ring,” my daughter said.
“They probably need it back,” my son said.
Later that day we went back to the bus stop and pasted up a leaflet: “Found Here: Lost Gold Ring; clear gem. Text me a description and we’ll send it back to you.”
Two days later a text message came. The young woman who sent it said she was recently dumped by her long-term boyfriend.
The ring was a gift from him, and in what she said was a moment of healthy self-consciousness at the B103 stop, she’d decided to drop it there.
When she did, she said, she felt a massive weight gain. She didn’t want the ring back, she added, but it was kind of us to offer it.
I read the text to my children. A long conversation followed about love, marriage, heartbreak and moving on.
“What should we do with the ring?” I asked.
Finally we returned to the bus stop, where my daughter placed the ring under a piece of concrete so it could stay lost.
— Tate Hausman
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here†