While it’s important to note what’s working, it’s also imperative to look at where New York City—and the state at large—got it wrong. The city’s contact-tracing efforts were riddled with problems, and studies have shown that earlier lockdowns could have saved thousands of lives.
“We eventually got down to these low levels, but we didn’t take those steps soon enough, and we totally overwhelmed our healthcare system,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and an expert on U.S. readiness for pandemics. “We lost a lot more people than we should have.”
And there’s a difference, he said, between “taking appropriate steps to fight the spread of the virus versus ending or defeating the pandemic,” which Redlener said he “hoped” would happen during his lifetime.
“Will it stay better? I hope,” said Redlener, adding that new lockdowns in some places are “inevitable,” as he claimed new surges are, even in a city that is working diligently to follow guidance, provide testing, and contact-trace. And for the country as a whole, he continued, “It’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to reverse the messaging” from politicians and other leaders who brought people together in large indoor gatherings or discouraged mask-usage—as President Trump has.