Covid-19 Tightens Its Grip on the Big Apple

A glimpse of the devastating impact the pandemic is having on those living in America’s largest city [Note to readers: the article was penned on April 2, before the Federal Reserve bailed out every single financial instrument except for shares]

By Spengler and cross-posted from Asia Times.

The clerk at the last local grocery that delivers fresh produce told me she was quitting. She was afraid to take the subway to work, because New York’s homeless have taken over the trains, as daytime temperatures hover around 6 degrees Centigrade. Homeless men living on subway trains were a nuisance before the epidemic as well as a health hazard. In January the corpse of an indigent man was found covered in bedbugs in a subway car.

With normal ridership down more than 90%, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is depending on a $4 billion bailout under the federal government’s aid package to pay interest on its bonds, and the homeless have turned the subways into a squatter’s paradise. New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio has a soft spot for the homeless and police don’t interfere. But that crowds out low-wage supermarket workers and puts the city’s food distribution at risk.

It’s no use ordering food from Amazon, which was supposed to up-end the grocery business with its “Amazon Fresh” delivery service. There isn’t a delivery slot available in New York for the next month. Fresh Direct, the other big home delivery chain, has no slots available, either. Fresh Direct is out of most long-life foods, but that doesn’t matter, because if they had them, they couldn’t deliver them. For those without the cupboard-full of dried beans, pasta and rice that I laid in before the crisis hit, it means risking the supermarket. Amazon still has hazmat suits in stock. Home delivery of food is almost as laborious as a trip to the supermarket because each item must be disinfected separately.

A hospital administrator reports that elderly people now comprise only a small fraction of coronavirus cases. The vast majority are in their 30s, 40s or 50s. And about a fifth of them show myocarditis – viral infection of the heart muscle. The coronavirus, European physicians learned several weeks ago, sometimes ignores the lungs and goes straight after internal organs – heart, kidneys and liver. The high death rate among the Italian elderly appears to be the result of a simple lack of ventilators. New York is not yet out of ventilators, but in many hospitals patients are lying or seated in corridors. But physicians are at a loss to treat viral heart infections that attack apparently healthy young people as much as the comorbid elderly.

Emergency calls have increased from an average of 3,500 a day to 6,000, and there still aren’t enough test kits to screen the emergency responders who have the most frequent contact with Covid-19 patients. As a result many Emergency Medical Service personnel are sleeping in their cars to avoid infecting their families, according to the president of their union

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