In New York, Omicron revives dark memories of a nightmarish 2020 – FRANCE 24

In New York, Omicron revives dark memories of a nightmarish 2020 – FRANCE 24

Issued on: 18/12/2021 – 17:04

New York (AFP) – With restaurants in Brooklyn closing in rapid succession and lines at Covid-19 test centers swelling by the day, fears are growing in New York of a return to the nightmare of 2020, when the city was the global epicenter of the pandemic.

In Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood alone, more than a dozen bars and restaurants have had to close temporarily amid a recent surge in infections among their workers and patrons.

Near popular McCarren Park, around 30 people are lined up at a medical van offering rapid tests.

“It feels very reminiscent of March 2020,” said Spencer Reiter, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident who works in finance.

He and his friend Katie Connolly, a student who is also 27, had come to be tested after friends tested positive.

“Seeing these lines… it’s kind of back to where we began,” Reiter said.

Katie Connolly concurred, saying, “It’s definitely eerie.”

Empty streets

The first wave of the pandemic brought New York to its knees in the spring of 2020.

A man undergoes a rapid Covid-19 test at a medical van in New York on December 17, 2021 Ed JONES AFP

The megalopolis of 8.5 million people, long known as “the city that never sleeps,” felt almost deserted for weeks, its empty streets resembling something from a science fiction movie about a post-apocalyptic world.

The only sound heard in Manhattan’s broad avenues seemed to be the stress-inducing wail of ambulance sirens, while hospitals operated beyond capacity and morgues were forced to bring in refrigerated trucks to handle the huge influx of Covid victims.

The disease has claimed at least 34,000 lives in New York since spring 2020, and the city — especially Manhattan — has never completely regained its legendary glitter and energy of pre-Covid days.

‘Very scary’

“We are actually in the beginning again, or maybe even worse,” said Jolanta Czerlanis, a 54-year-old Brooklyn resident. She had come for testing after feeling possible Covid symptoms.

“It’s very scary,” added Czerlanis, who works in catering. “We were hoping that it’s going to get better.”

The startlingly rapid spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant has raised grave concern across the US.

President Joe Biden on Thursday predicted a “winter of severe illness and death” for the unvaccinated.

The number of new daily cases nationwide stood at 86,000 on December 1; by December 14, it had soared to 117,000, a 36 percent increase in two weeks.

The US already leads the world in the most grim of statistics. On Tuesday it surpassed 800,000 Covid deaths, according data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

‘Omicron happened’

What accounts for the surge?

“Omicron happened,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said recently on CNN.

“And we got to be honest about the fact that it’s moving very fast and we have to move faster,” he added, speaking just weeks before he steps aside to make way for his elected successor, Eric Adams.

De Blasio …….


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