By Karen Rempel
New York Tough. New York Proud. New York Variant. Rona the virus is drooping.
I began tracking coronavirus news daily, obsessively, in March of 2020, as I’m sure many of you did. I even created an email folder for NYC updates related to the virus, testing, vaccinations, closures, and other impacts on the city.
In May 2021, more than a year later, I finally felt I could breathe fully again. I felt such a tremendous sense of relief when I received my first vaccination shot, and it deepened when I got the second. The CDC said we could take off our masks outdoors if vaccinated. Then Governor Cuomo announced that New York was reopening fully on May 19. Soon after, the CDC said that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks or maintain social distance indoors or outdoors (with some exceptions).
As we reach each milestone of returning privileges and freedom from the virus, I cry a little. Subways back to 24/7. Tears. Bar seating returns. Sniffle. Indoor dining at 25%-33%-75%. Droplets spring from my eyes. Hamilton tickets available for $199! A deluge…
I feel so moved and proud of New Yorkers for caring for each other and making it this far, to the downward slope of the bell curve. Walking through the West Village last Saturday night, people spilled from the streets into the restaurants. Bright lights, candles, joyful voices permeated the night at restaurant after restaurant after bar. The celebration that follows tragedy is swelling in the city.
I know that the world is still in terrible trouble, risks hover on the edges of our vision, and the impact of tragic loss will reverberate for years to come, but I want to take this time to mark what we have been through, and how far we have come together.
I designed the New York Variant t-shirt as an expression of celebration and pride for New York. New York, we made it. We’re proud, we’re tough, and we made it through.
For more fun photos of Rona, and to see the New York Variant tee, go to karensquirkystyle.com.
- Black, hand-painted New York Variant t-shirt. Karen’s Quirky Style. Online only.
- Chocolate, burnt orange, peaches, and cream ombré pleated midi-skirt. Banana Republic. 105 Fifth Avenue.
- 7″ YRU lace-up goth boots. Trash and Vaudeville, 96 E. 7th Street.
- Coronavirus hairstyle by Dean de Santis. Salon Ziba. 485 Sixth Avenue.
- Rona makeup by Karen.
How Far We’ve Come
- By May 28, more than 50% of adult New Yorkers were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and more than 60% of adults had received at least one vaccine dose.
- In the second half of May, New Yorkers between the ages of 12 and 17 began to receive the vaccination.
- The average number of new cases in NYC fell to 392 on May 28, continuing the steady downward trend that began in March.
- Tragically, 25 people died on May 17, and since January 2020, at least 1 in 252 New Yorkers have died.
- While unvaccinated people remain at a high risk of getting COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that fully vaccinated people can go without masks in most places, have indoor visits, and resume domestic travel without testing or quarantining.
- A New York variant, B.1.526, was identified in November, and by April accounted for half the new cases in the city. The British variant, B.1.1.7, accounted for about 20 percent of cases.
- But more good news came in late April, when the New York Times reported on two studies that showed both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective against these variants.
- As of May 28, 55% of New York State residents had received at least one shot, including 83% of those aged 65 and older.