This Is What a Pandemic Looks Like in New York City

“We’re New Yorkers, right? We’ll get through it.”
April 20, 2020, 4:11pm

NEW YORK — One month into lockdown, New York City is measuring its days by three numbers: the number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations, the number of people placed on ventilators, and the number of dead.

And each day, New Yorkers look for a sign that the worst might be over.

The daily figures offer some hope. After losing 10,000 lives to the pandemic so far, hospitalizations are beginning to fall, as are the number of critically-ill patients. It’s starting to look like the city's finally past the apex of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s tough, you know, and I lost my dad to coronavirus a week ago today,” Queens resident Abbie Leabo told VICE News through tears, while dropping off donated blankets and phone chargers for patients waiting at Elmhurst Hospital. “But, you know what? We’re New Yorkers, right? We’ll get through it.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially put the state on “pause” one month ago. Since then, New York City has remained effectively shut down, with 8.6 million residents sheltering at home, non-essential businesses closed, and an eerie quiet in the streets, except for the constant wail of ambulances.

Every night at 7 p.m., the city erupts in applause for the essential workers braving the front lines. At the same time, bodies continue to be added to the refrigerated trucks that serve as makeshift morgues, and workers on Hart Island in the Bronx dig mass graves for those who go unclaimed.

VICE News traveled around New York to see firsthand what life and death look like in America’s coronavirus epicenter.

Cover: Medical workers at NYU Medical Center in Manhattan return the applause they receive every evening at 7 p.m. (Photo: Gleb Mikhalev/VICE News)