Good Morning. Today we’ll look at why Mayor Adams isn’t reinstating mask mandates despite a fresh Covid-19 surge – and why some health experts disagree with him. Also, if you’re ambivalent about going back to the office, imagine how your dog is feeling.
As the number of new Covid-19 cases reported daily in New York City surpassed 4,000 this week, the mayor’s message seemed to be: Just like you were. We have that.
He issued no public warnings. He has not reintroduced a mask mandate for indoor public places, although a new warning system he approved in March recommends it at the level of risk the city has now reached.
Even as city schools demanded – but did not require – older students to wear masks again, Mr Adams let his recent decision to let students go to prom unvaccinated stand.
Students can “celebrate their hard work with a prom and graduation, regardless of vaccination status,” he said in a press release, adding, “I encourage anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated to do so.”
Three main considerations drive Mr. Adams’ approach, reports my colleague Emma G. Fitzsimmons: Hospitalizations and deaths have risen at a slower rate than previous waves. New restrictions could cost him politically with a weary audience. And he fears mandates could harm restaurants, tourism and the city’s economic comeback.
“If we have thoughts of shutting down, panic, with every variant that comes up, we’re not going to function as a city,” Mr Adams said on Wednesday.
Former city officials and many health experts disagree.
Health experts have argued that action should be taken when Hospitals and health workers are overwhelmed or about to be – as Mr. Adams says he would – would be too late. Since most home tests are not counted in city statistics, it can be assumed that there are already far more new daily cases than the official count. As of Tuesday, more than 770 city residents have been hospitalized with Covid.
dr Dave Chokshi, the health commissioner under Mayor Bill de Blasio and during Mr. Adams’ first few months as mayor, recently said the city acted out of “collective amnesia.”
“People would say, ‘Well, it’s just increasing the cases, let’s see what happens with the hospitalizations,'” he said. “It’s hard not to let your head explode when you sense how the public and, in many cases, the political conversations are being conducted in these circles. And you’re like, ‘Wow, when are we going to learn.’”
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said the city should be more nimble and “flip protective measures on and off if we hit a flood.”
Mixed news comes from City Hall. The Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan issued an order on Monday strongly recommending medical masks in offices, grocery stores, schools and other indoor public spaces.
Mr Adams has highlighted the benefits of antiviral drugs such as Paxlovid, which is available free and by home delivery to eligible city dwellers. His government says it has distributed 35,000 antiviral treatments.
New Yorkers report mixed experiences with the medication hotline. Everything runs smoothly for some, others find the process, which requires a video smartphone consultation and order in an online pharmacy, confusing. Others say they were denied prescriptions even though they met the criteria.
Expect a partly sunny day with a low chance of showers and temperatures in the low 70’s. The evening will be partly cloudy, with temperatures in the mid 60’s.
Valid until May 26 (Solemnity of the Ascension Day).
Day in court in Buffalo
Payton S. Gendron, the accused gunman in Saturday’s massacre at a Buffalo supermarket, appeared in court Thursday when prosecutors announced a grand jury had voted to indict him. Some relatives of the 10 people he is accused of murdering looked on.
Mr Gendron, 18, has pleaded not guilty. The judge adjourned the case until June 9.
Mr. Gendron faces a life sentence if convicted and he remains being held without bail, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said.
The latest news from New York
Separation anxiety is mounting for New Yorkers and their pandemic pups
In April 2020 – ridiculously early as we now know – the Wall Street Journal ran a point/counterpoint on whether or not it was time for office workers to resume commuting.
The first track was “America Needs To Get Back To Work”. The author – pictured as usual in a classic black-and-white dot portrait of the journal – was A Cat. A Dog’s response was captioned “Why Not Work From Home Forever?”
Now the worst is happening for many New York dogs.
More than 23 million American homes added a cat or dog during the pandemic. Many of these animals have never experienced what it’s like to be left alone all day. And while many cats may be thrilled with their new domination, with dogs it’s hard to tell who’s more fearful — them or their humans.
“We’ve had a lot of breakups,” Kate Senisi, the training director at the School for the Dogs in Manhattan’s East Village, told my colleague John Leland.
Mary Sheridan, an attorney with a small apartment in the East Village, compared her return to work — leaving behind her pandemic puppy Nala for the first time — to ending maternity leave with her son Theo, now 13.
“The panic you would feel — oh my god, I’ve got this baby, and I’m going to leave the baby all day,” she said.
Undoubtedly, having a warm nearby dog has relieved stress for many home workers.
Take mixed mix. Not really. He’s the best thing that can happen to our family, the toy poodle we said we’d 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 out all day, I suspect he’s mostly asleep, gathering energy for a grand welcome. A neighbor who took him for a walk the other day said he was perfectly happy going 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 when left alone, trainers said.
But Raf Astor, who boards and walks dogs in the East Village, said the dogs he sees have adapted well. It’s the people he worries about.
Huge weight lifted
I was waiting with my kids at a B103 stop on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. My daughter, who was 6 at the time, found a gold ring on the floor. Even I could tell it wasn’t cheap plastic. Maybe an engagement ring?
“Someone lost their ring,” my daughter said.
“They probably need it back,” my son said.
Later that day we returned to the bus stop and taped a flyer: “Found Here: Lost Gold Ring; clear gem. Send me a description and we’ll send it back to you.”
A text message came two days later. The young woman who sent it said she was recently dumped by her longtime boyfriend.
The ring was a gift from him, and in what she said was a moment of healthy self-awareness at the B103 stop, she had decided to drop it right there.
As she did so, she said, she felt a tremendous amount of weight gain. She didn’t want the ring back, she added, but it was nice of us to offer that.
I read the text to my children. A long chat about love, marriage, heartbreak and moving on followed.
“What should we do with the ring?” I asked.
We ended up returning to the bus stop where my daughter put the ring under a concrete block so it could get lost.
– Tate Hausmann
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Submit submissions here and Read more Metropolitan Diary here.