COVID-19 Day 19: Just Another Disaster in NYC

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On March 31,  New York City identified over 4,600 new cases of COVID-19, that’s on top of the over 33,000 cases already reported. Just another day in NYC.

Early in the national emergency, politicians and pundits were quick to blame the FDA and Trump for failing to adequately deal with the virus. But unlike hand-sanitizer, there’s plenty of blame to go around. In a scathing critique in Politico, Sally Goldenberg outlines the missteps and mixed messages the mayor of New York City has made since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in NYC, on March 1.

She describes a timeline where a handful of the city’s health officials were sounding alarms early on. But the Mayor and other city leaders are more concerned with business disruptions and how restrictions would adversely affect quality-of-life. Even today, while many New Yorkers heed the stay-at-home orders, some continue to go out into the streets and parks, as if it was a long weekend.

It’s not like we’ve never seen this before. It’s pretty much the plot of every disaster film. Let’s look at some popular ones and how New Yorkers reacted:

Independence Day The Gold Standard of NYC destruction. A city-sized alien saucer hovers over Manhattan. The citizens have hours to evacuate, instead, they gawk outside of their taxis or watch the jumbotrons in Times Square until the aliens blow up the Empire State Building and fry everyone.  

Colverfield A giant space monster rampages through the boroughs (that somehow has the time to swim towards Jersey and swat off the head of the Statue of Liberty?) The residents vlog and try to hook up, while ordered to evacuate.

Ghost Busters Demons and ghosts appear all over New York City and a giant marshmallow monster rampages through Manhattan. The mayor is more concerned with PR spin and voters. 

I am Legend A viral pandemic turns healthy people into vampire/zombies. Bridges and tunnels are blown up to try and prevent the spread but too late. New York City is abandoned and soon nature reclaims Manhattan. 

There are others, The Day After Tomorrow, The Happening, Deep Impact, Armageddon, even video games like Tom Clancy’s The Division. Practically EVERY disaster film in recent memory features NYC destroyed. And in everyone, they show the city officials lack of preparedness and the residents jaded indifference to the looming threat. 

So everything’s pretty much going to script.



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