11:21 am, June 8, 2020, modified at 11:51 am, June 8, 2020
A first phase. Since mid-May, most of New York State has started its deconfinement because it fulfilled the seven health criteria imposed by the governor. Monday, it is the city of New York, confined since the end of March, which must take the plunge. The American economic capital now allows construction companies and factories to return to work. Retail businesses are also allowed to reopen, but in a restricted form. Governor Andrew Cuomo has also warned against any return to normal, insisting on maintaining barrier gestures.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 8, 2020
The most affected city in the country. More than 200,000 people have contracted the disease in New York in recent weeks, for a death toll of more than 20,000. The economic crisis that hit the city was also particularly hard: nearly 900,000 people lost their jobs. New York is by far the hardest hit American city. By comparison, there have been just over 2,600 deaths from Covid-19 in Los Angeles and just 43 in San Francisco, as the city declared its first case on the same day as New York.
Hypotheses to explain it. As one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, New York has welcomed many foreigners, especially from Europe. As the United States closed itself to Chinese tourists, the virus was arriving from elsewhere. He would then have found a favorable ecosystem: a dense city (8.6 million inhabitants, more than 10,000 inhabitants per km2) where people use public transport a lot and drive little. In this, it is very different from Los Angeles or Seattle, recalled Mayor Bill de Blasio himself.
Political hesitation. Finally, the city was probably slow to contain itself, which allowed the virus to spread. Containment was ordered on March 22, five days after San Francisco. An eternity in view of the local context. The day after the first case detected in the city, in early March, Governor Andrew Cuomo was confident: he claimed that the city had “the best health system on the planet”. After much hesitation, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the closure of public schools, bars and restaurants as of March 16. The governor ordered containment and the closure of non-essential activities a week later.
Why it matters. The gradual resumption of activity in New York poses a real challenge to the authorities because the city still carries with it many aggravating factors for the epidemic, starting with its transport and its density. Phase 1 will therefore be a test. While waiting for phase 2, which has started in other parts of the state, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, sports halls, cinemas are still closed in the city.