By Bob Cooley
It was precisely 13 months ago (on March 1, 2020) from this publishing date when the first official case of COVID-19 was reported in Manhattan.
Just over a year later, the toll has been horrendous: 29.8M cases and 542,000 deaths in the US, with 794,027 cases and 30,564 deaths in NYC. The cost in human life, our mental health, financial stability, and social structures will likely never be fully measured.
But in these first days of spring, hope appears to be on the horizon.
In a December 8th speech, then President-elect Biden promised that 100 million vaccines would be administered within his first 100 days of office. That number was passed only 59 days into his term, and the rate of vaccinations has been accelerating ever since. As of March 20th, 1.9M doses were administered with 962,056 fully vaccinated in NYC (121M doses / 43M fully vaccinated nationwide).
In Greenwich Village, Lenox Health’s (LHGV’s) new vaccination center has been administering over 800 shots every day, with a streamlined check-in system and 20 nurse’s stations working non-stop to get the vaccine distributed locally.
RN Michelle De Jong-Quinn, a maternity nurse who is helping administer shots in Greenwich Village, said of her experience, “This is my commitment to supporting the COVID relief effort. It’s so hopeful and positive—it’s as exciting as being with a newborn baby which is where my regular nursing duties are.”
Alex Hellinger, Executive Director of Lenox Health, said of their efforts at LHGV, “When the need arose. Northwell really stepped up. As soon as we needed to, we built this vaccination center. We started to distribute vaccines to patients as quickly as possible to whoever was in the appropriate criteria to receive them. The more we can do to protect the community and protect everyone, the better. The staff and nurses are ecstatic. We’ve heard that some patients cried (with joy)—they’re so happy that they have the shot. It’s a wonderful feeling for the patients, the nurses, and everybody in the center.”
West Village resident Michelle said her experience was “very efficient and smooth…” at Lenox Health Greenwich Village “…they just lowered the age to 60+, and I was able to get an appointment right away. It’s wonderful, the signup was easy, and everything here is so organized.” About getting the vaccine, she said, “I feel so excited and relieved. Medical science is amazing.” The first thing she looks forward to is visiting with her stepfather indoors.
The importance of getting vaccinated cannot be overstated. Depending on the vaccine you get (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson), the efficacy of preventing severe illness from COVID-19 ranges from 80%-95%. More importantly, it reduces the chances of hospitalization and death to 0% (based on extensive testing and current public data).
It’s also important to remember that the vaccination does not take full effect until two weeks after your final shot. So it’s still essential to wear masks and socially distance unless you are with people who are also fully vaccinated.
And with the new variants (B.1.1.7), (B.1.351), and (P.1), little is known about the efficacy of the vaccines against these strains. So in the meantime, the CDC recommends precautions (masks and distancing) until more information is known about how the current vaccines protect against them.
- To sign up for vaccine at Lenox Health Greenwich Village (and other NYC locations): vaccinefinder.nyc.gov/locations
- Who is eligible to get the vaccine: tinyurl.com/nyc-vax-info
- If you are homebound: You can make an appointment to have the vaccine administered in your home. To sign up: forms.cityofnewyork.us/f/homebound or call 877-VAX-4NYC
Bob Cooley is a photojournalist and communications strategist who lives in the West Village. He’s spent over 30 years creating photography and stories for publications including LIFE Magazine, Forbes, The Economist, Sports Illustrated, The Associated Press, and many others. You can see more of Bob’s work at www.bobcooleyphoto.com and new photography daily on Instagram @bobcooley