As COVID-19 continued to spread throughout the U.S. this week, the total number of reported cases nationwide topped 100,000. In New York, the epicenter of the domestic outbreak, more than 500 people have died. Here, 833 New York readers opened up about what’s changed in their daily lives since the pandemic began, and how they’re coping with the crisis.
How would you describe your emotional state right now?
Very anxious and/or scared: 27.53%
Somewhat anxious and/or scared: 39.59%
Slightly concerned: 4.66%
Totally fine: 1.64%
How sick do you feel right now?
Like I’ve been hit by a truck: 1.67%
Seasonally sick; feels like a common cold: 6.39%
Slightly under the weather: 10.42%
Relatively fine, I guess?: 60.14%
Picture of health: 21.39%
Do you know anyone who’s tested positive?
Do you know anyone who has been hospitalized because of it?
Do you or anyone you know think you might have it but can’t get tested?
Have you lost work or had your hours reduced since the outbreak began?
Not applicable: 21.13%
What’s been the biggest change in your life since the outbreak began?
“At the very same time the pandemic started to blow up in NYC, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I haven’t had the luxury to stay home, as I needed surgery and all the tests related to it. It’s been a harrowing and sad experience to walk the city while watching it slowly grinding to a halt, and our hospitals filling up. I feel almost lucky my surgery actually took place last Monday at Mount Sinai, in a last vestige of normalcy. In just 3 days, Manhattan has become another place. The reality just sank in. When I see the ‘butcher’s bill’ of hospitalizations and deaths, I feel almost guilty to need medical attention to prevent a cancer from slowly killing me, at a time when so many people will need every hand on deck to keep them from dying right now.”
“I’ve never been more scared. I love my city. I miss it, but I’m terrified of it.”
“[I am] a domestic violence survivor, ten years safe. But I notice all of the same fears rising in me, the interrupted life, the anxiety, the unknown. How will I pay rent, protect my family, stay safe - all of those same questions. The violence is gone, but the insecurity is palpable. The trauma feels real.”
“Worried I will be unable to implant one embryo from many grueling cycles of IVF because I’ll be too old or something will have happened before it’s safe to do so. The deep sadness that I’ve likely lost my chance to become a biological mother.”
“My partner is working from home for one contract job, but he also works part time delivering Uber Eats and just the dread of him going out every day to be exposed is overwhelming, but we need the money.”
“The real change is psychological. We don’t know how our city will look, or the world will look. Knowing I can’t visit my parents is a lot different from knowing it’s dangerous to see my parents. The whole idea of planning for the future has fallen apart.”
“I have ADHD and I am an auditory learner. I’m having a hard time transitioning to online courses. The professors are not holding Zoom lectures for my campus and some are not offering any sort of lecture. They want us to just read from the textbook. I’m fighting it. The student disability office is saying they can not require my professors supply me with audio lectures when I signed up for a lecture course. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Two family members in my household tested positive, but I have been refused twice for a test. Three members of my church have died in the past three days.”
“First time in my life I have considered buying a gun for protection.”
“My working hours have increased to an unacceptable amount. My company pulled the WFH trigger earlier than most. I take calls and work later than if I was in the office. I can barely go outside to run or workout generally. I work, cook, and sleep in the same 4 walls every day and I’m absolutely losing my patience with this but know I need to keep going”
“As a child of refugees, I’m a bit more paranoid than most of my friends, especially around issues of food security and national safety. So even though people in New York weren’t really freaking out in early March, I was quietly packing a suitcase. My mom is 68 and my brother is immunocompromised; we talked as a family and decided I’d go to their house in rural Massachusetts so there was a healthy adult to buy groceries, etc for them until it was all clear. I thought it would just be for a week or two. But now, I feel equal parts ashamed I left the city I love and grateful I’m somewhere with way less people where I can keep an eye on my family’s health and walk in the woods once a day. But I don’t know when I can go home again, and that’s hard and scary. I’m terrified of my family getting sick. I’m terrified of my friends getting sick. I’m ashamed I can’t help more people. (Why didn’t I go to med school?! Why am I an artist?!!) I’m convinced my empty studio apartment will be filled with squatters when I get back. I’m worried for friends losing jobs. I can’t sleep. And I know I’m one of the very, very lucky ones.”
Note: Not every respondent answered every question.