Signs of distress are everywhere. A musical actress, rehearsing her return to the stage after 18 months of inactivity, burst into tears during a radio interview.
The parents of New York’s one million public school students want to know if their children will spend seven hours a day in one of thousands of classrooms that lack ventilation recommended by the federal government. Companies cancel the return to the office scheduled for this month.
If the 20th anniversary of 9/11 makes New Yorkers revisit a trauma, the week that starts on the 13th brings uncertainty and fear of the enemy the city thought it had defeated with a vaccine.
The delta variant, whose seriousness the Biden administration was slow to take seriously, casts a shadow over the fall season, the season that marks the beginning of the school year and an awakening of cultural activities so important to New York’s economy.
In the first pandemic of the era of digital misinformation and public health reduced to ideological identity, it is difficult to find security in reopening protocols.
New York shouldn’t offer the spectacle we’ve seen in other cities, with parents slapping away in front of schools in disputes over masks.
But last weekend showed that fears of who will be forced to work or study indoors are not unjustified. More than a thousand people protested here against the mandatory vaccination for over 12 years old in schools, restaurants, gyms and concert halls.
On Tuesday (31), a woman who works at a clinic near Manhattan was indicted for falsifying hundreds of vaccine certificates. She had already registered clients in the state’s health database.
Even with full compliance with the recommendations of epidemiologists, the delta variant defies the plans of those responsible for operating enclosed spaces. The Broadway Theater League president acknowledged, “There’s a lot we don’t know.”
What happens if an actor or technician receives a Covid diagnosis in productions like “King Lion” that employ more than 100 people behind the scenes? Does the show close for quarantine? The big productions, with a relevant weight in the US$ 14 billion that Broadway brings to the local economy, don’t have the breath to function without filling the house eight times a week.
If they’re still standing, it’s because the government poured $10 million for a Broadway production that went out of business in 2020, but the bailout is conditional on lights out in the theater.
With the explosion of coronavirus infections among American children — vaccines in the US are only authorized for ages 12 and up — parents are increasingly frightened. Mayor Bill de Blasio bet everything on the vaccine and withdrew the option of remote learning for the fall, in a city that has overcrowded classes in centuries-old schools with poor ventilation.
A study published last week by the CDC, the federal government’s health agency, reveals frightening data: a single unvaccinated teacher in California, who removed her mask to teach, infected half of a primary school class with the delta variant, in a chain of infection that affected 27 people.
New York, the city that rose proudly from the rubble of the twin towers, once again fears September.
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