I’m picking on New York not because it’s unique. In fact, people all around the country seem to be doing this. I’m picking on New York because, according to the Governor, it is facing a peak infections rate that will overwhelm hospital capacity in 2-3 weeks. So if there’s one place in the nation where people actually need to remain indoors right now, it’s New York City. Gov. Cuomo put in place a stay-at-home order last Sunday, but a lot of people are still spending their time in parks as if there’s nothing special going on in the world. This is from Tuesday:
“Go out. Let us leave, then come back,” an NYPD officer tells a bunch of people who they stopped from playing basketball at the West 4th street courts. Team sports have been banned in New York. Pretty sure the cop could have tried a little harder to end the game. pic.twitter.com/NFXIwj1DyC
— Noah Goldberg (@Noah__Goldberg) March 24, 2020
Team sports are banned in New York. There’s no question this is not allowed. Moving on to Wednesday:
— Gothamist (@Gothamist) March 25, 2020
Friday was no better:
The jogging paths around the reservoir in Central Park are just slammed with people, as is the biking loop. Thousands of people, showing no consideration at all for social distancing. New York’s not going to make it if this keeps happening. #CoronaLockdown #NewYork pic.twitter.com/xMAIB7e43u
— Jacob Dean (@SchadenJake) March 27, 2020
And check out all the dude bros who were out using public exercise equipment Friday. Do these guys know that the virus lived on surfaces that hadn’t been cleaned in cruise ships for 17 days, including in the rooms of people who had no symptoms?
Gothamist sent a photographer around to several parks Friday afternoon. Today they published 14 photos including these two.
— Gothamist (@Gothamist) March 28, 2020
Yes, I know most of these groups are 6 feet apart, but they’re supposed to stay home except to go shopping (and ideally they would only do that once a week). How is this any different from all the people who were allegedly social distancing on Florida beaches? If you follow this link, you can see the rest of the photos. One even shows people holding a soccer game.
The Gothamist story puts the blame for this at the feet of Mayor de Blasio. Why hasn’t he closed these parks?
For weeks, it’s been clear that New Yorkers will congregate in these public spaces if they remain open, yet Mayor Bill de Blasio has balked on shutting them down, which could be giving a mixed message to New Yorkers who aren’t paying enough attention — if the parks are open, then there must be no danger there. This is incorrect, there are plenty of risks at parks—namely, surfaces and other people. As epidemiologist Stephen Morse told Gothamist, “we think most infections are spread by the respiratory route, hence the recommendation for social distancing… to get out of inhalation range of infected droplets.”…
Instead of shutting parks down, however, de Blasio said he would consider fines. “We’re going to make a decision on whether we need to start instituting fines for anyone who is noncompliant,” he said. “We have not made that decision yet. We’ll make it this weekend. Fines of up to $500 per incident are being discussed right now. This means if any of our officers – NYPD or Parks or any other agency tells you, you need to move along, you need to move along. If they tell you to break up your gathering, you need to break up your gathering. It does not mean you can break it up for a few minutes and then come back. It doesn’t mean you can tell the officer you’re not going to do it. We’re going to start to bring heavier enforcement to bear if people don’t pay attention to the nonstop guidance that we’ve all been giving.”
He’s thinking about fines. Still not ready to actually do it yet, but he’s thinking about it. Has he seen this video from inside a New York hospital? Why is he screwing around when people are obviously not complying? Close the parks for 2-3 weeks until the peak passes.
Once again, I want to point out that there’s a certain type of person that seems to be out sunning themselves, working out, running, etc. during this crisis. I think this is probably “moral licensing” in action. People who view themselves as fit and healthy types give themselves a pass on the stay-at-home rules, even the team sport rules, because they’re fit and healthy. Gov. Cuomo has already tried to directly address these people. Last Sunday he said, “I was in these parks and you would not know there is anything going on. This is just a mistake! A mistake! It’s insensitive! It’s arrogant! It’s self-destructive! It’s disrespectful to other people! It has to stop and it has to stop now! This is not a joke and I am not kidding!” It’s not getting through to the dude bros and the guys out running for a personal best. The only thing that’s going to work is shutting down the parks.
I know this won’t matter either but this seems to be in the process of becoming the semi-official theme song of the crisis. Police cars should be riding around the parks playing this over loud-speakers. It’s funny but the language is very NSFW: