New York Begins a Long Road to Coronavirus Recovery

As the first phase of the reopening begins, here is a look at the road ahead of New York City in its recovery plan from coronavirus.

new york road to coronavirus recovery
New York is gradually reopening its economy. PHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK

New York begins a long road to coronavirus recovery: Exactly 100 days after the first report of Covid-19, New York City finally confirmed Monday that its economy is slowly and gradually reopening.

The most populous city in the United States was also the country’s epicentre for coronavirus infection, with over 200,000 cases and nearly 22,000 virus-related deaths to date. 

But after months of virtual lockdowns, nearly 900,000 New Yorkers are unemployed – 400,000 people will be allowed to return to work on Monday at construction sites, manufacturing sites and retail stores (only to take curbside).

As the first phase of the reopening begins, here is a look at the road ahead of New York City in its recovery plan from coronavirus.

885,000 Jobs were lost

The New York City Independent Budget Office issued a stern statement on the economic and public health recovery needed at the end of May to restore New York to its pre-coronavirus normalcy. The report acknowledged that 885,000 jobs were lost amid the crisis, and it did not see strong gains until at least 2022.

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Also, the City budget, which was put through Ringer for public health and safety spending, now faces a $9 billion deficit next year. With theatre, museums, sporting events, and nightlife being the lifeline of a never-sleeping city, so did the tax revenue from such interactive entertainment. 

In the meantime, restaurants and coffee shops are limited to take-out service, all of which leads to a low cost and suffocating economy. It will be long enough for New York to compensate for the economic losses of the epidemic era.

Public transport

A major test for the city’s renaissance would be its public transit system, which was abandoned amid the epidemic. New York’s subway cars and buses, which were packed like sardines before the Coronavirus crisis, present a unique challenge to maintaining proper social distance. 

Transportation officials predict that only 15% of the system’s regular passengers (about 825,000 people) will use the city’s transportation options when reopening.

Wearing a surgical mask, Governor Andrew Cuomo rode the subway earlier this week and gave a confident tone at a press conference after his trip: “We’re not out of the woods, but we’re on the other side, of course.”

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However, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed concern that a rapid return to public transport could trigger a resurgence of the virus, and on Monday announced that the city would add more bus routes, close some streets to cars and allow buses to move faster.

One step at a time

The mayor and other officials say the coronavirus has not disappeared, and New Yorkers should be wary in the coming months. “We are still in what I would call a moderate-exchange phase,” New York City Health Commissioner Axis Barbot said. “That means that hundreds more are being diagnosed daily.”

In the two weeks since George Floyd’s death, the city’s plans for a gradual return to public life have been blocked by massive protests against racial inequality on the streets. Governor Cuomo said that anyone attending a demonstration should consider that they were infected with the coronavirus, search for the COVID-19 test and consider self-isolation in the interim.

Asked if he could reopen for another two weeks in light of the protests, Rothmans co-owner Ken Gordon replied, “I think New York City needs a week or two of healing for sale.”

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Demonstrations, however, prove that New York City’s fighting spirit has not diminished amid the crisis. As it has been many times in the past, New York will rise to the challenge and rebuild itself.


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