However, the hospital is preparing for what is to come. “We doubled the number of patients in some rooms and placed extra beds in the arrivals hall.” As a precaution, smart handling of personal protective equipment is also used. “Patients only get 1 face mask a day and we recycle it so that they can be used again. We wouldn’t normally do anything like that.”
Even though everything seems to be going well in the Mount Sinai hospital, there is certainly fear. “You can see that some doctors are concerned about their health and that of their relatives. Especially after a nurse in the ward died of the virus last week.” Hiensch himself is particularly concerned about whether they can handle the increasing number of patients. The doctor expects to see a peak in the number of infections within two weeks. “We wonder if we will keep it up.”
Unemployment is rising
The corona outbreak not only puts a lot of pressure on hospitals, but also puts many New Yorkers in financial trouble. In the city, businesses, restaurants and schools are closed. Only necessary shops are still open, such as supermarkets and pharmacies. As a result, thousands of people are currently unemployed at home.
To accommodate these people, the federal government has made available a support package that temporarily gives unemployed people higher benefits. But 29-year-old Justin Barry from Brooklyn is not aware of this. “I’ve been trying to claim benefits for days, but the website is overloaded,” he says. In the US, a record number of 6.6 million unemployment benefits were claimed this week.
Barry works as gig worker, which means that he works for various clients on a project basis. For example, he works in the catering and event industry. “All that work has now come to a halt. And that applies not only to me, but also to many friends.”
For a new job, he would tour North America with a European band for two months. Barry is busy with music and hoped to find more work in the music industry in this way, but things turned out differently. “On the third day of the tour, everything was canceled due to the corona virus. I had already sublet my Brooklyn apartment and am now forced to live with my sister, with no income and no job prospects.”
No health insurance
To keep costs to a minimum, the New Yorker does not currently have health insurance. “I still have some savings, but without a fixed income it is difficult to take out insurance,” he says. Since last year, it is no longer compulsory to have health insurance in New York. “The idea of not being insured during this corona crisis is terrible, but I have to make choices.”
Barry is aware of the risk he takes without health insurance, but remains optimistic. “I know that I am in huge debt if I get infected now, but by isolating myself from the outside world I hope not to get sick.”