USA exceeded one million deaths coronavirus covid-19The White House announced this Thursday, at a time when the country, in the image of New York, the city hardest hit by the coronavirus in 2020, wants to turn the page despite a slight increase in cases for a month.
“Today we reached a tragic milestone: one million American lives lost to covid-19,” said the president Joe Biden in a statement, in which he asked “to remain vigilant in the face of this pandemic and do everything possible to save as many lives as possible, just as we have done with more tests, vaccines and treatments than ever before.”
LOOK: The European Union lifts from Monday the obligation to wear masks on planes and airports
After several months of remission of the pandemic in the most mourning country in the world (ahead of Brazil, India and Russia), The United States has recorded a daily increase in cases for a month.
The increase occurs in a context in which the mask is no longer mandatoryalthough its use indoors is advised, and the fourth dose of the vaccine is available only for those over 50 years of age.
LOOK: Argentina on alert for a possible new wave of coronavirus after a rise in infections
The increase in cases is due to subvariants of omicronmore transmissible than the preceding strains although their effects seem less serious, in a country where 66% of the population is vaccinated (90% in the case of those over 65).
After two years of pandemic and several waves of variants of coronavirusthe United States wants to turn the page.
new york effervescence
New York, economic and cultural capital of the country and incredible mosaic of communities and social classes, seems to have recovered its legendary effervescence.
New Yorkers, domestic and foreign tourists return to Broadway theaters, take pictures under the giant advertising screens of Times Square, climb the Statue of Liberty, ride a float in Central Park, or walk or bike the Brooklyn Bridge .
The prestigious museums of northern Manhattan have begun to fill up and the elevators to the skyscrapers’ observation decks, which offer unparalleled views of the Big Apple and its surroundings, never stop going up and down.
The attractions began to open progressively in 2021 in this city of 8.4 million souls, where traffic has returned to collapse its main arteries, especially during peak hours.
The waiting lines lengthen in front of the thousands of restaurants, bars, fast food trucks. The most fashionable terraces of Manhattan and Brooklyn are once again full.
“We have been waiting for a long time” for this return from New York, says Alfred Cerullo, who leads a lobby to encourage businesses in Manhattan. “Without a doubt, the energy of the people on the street is felt again,” he assures AFP.
The contrast with spring 2020 is striking.
Epicenter of the pandemic, the “city that never sleeps” was left empty for weeks, like in a science fiction movie.
Through the immense arteries of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, only the wail of the sirens of the emergency services could be heard, with overflowing hospitals and the morgues forced to store the bodies of the victims in refrigerated trucks.
Janice Maloof-Tomaso, a nurse working in Boston at the time, recalls that many health workers “couldn’t bear to see death (…) and many were traumatized and left the profession.”
Some 40,000 New Yorkers have lost their lives since the spring of 2020 and both the island of Manhattan and the gigantic neighboring neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens maintain the stigma of the pandemic.
Without customers for months, thousands of small businesses have closed, their windows still covered by boards or posters from real estate agents with the message “for rent”.
Frank Tedesco owns a jewelry store in the affluent neighborhood of Westchester, in the North Bronx.
He tells AFP that he managed to save his business in 2020 thanks to public aid and his savings, but he is “very worried” since “he does not know what is going to happen” and how he could withstand another economic “impact” caused by a possible return of the epidemic.
Traumatized by the nightmare of 2020, New Yorkers remain vigilant. The mask is still very visible on the street and indoors and is mandatory on transport and in many shows such as the Metropolitan Opera House or theaters.
And telecommuting seems to be here to stay: according to a weekly barometer from the office security company Kastle, the office occupancy rate in New York is around 38%.
The president of the Goldman Sachs business bank, David Solomon, acknowledged on May 2 on the CNBC network that the rate of return to face-to-face work rises to 50-60% of the workforce, compared to 80% before covid.
Since the start of the pandemic, the figures of the member countries gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO) give a total of 5.4 million deaths from covid-19 in these two years.
But the WHO affirmed last Thursday that the pandemic caused between 13 and 17 million deaths in the world, from January 2020 to December 2021, around triple the total official balances, showing the devastation of the worst pandemic experienced in the planet for a century.