Brooklyn Preps for Coronavirus (Updated)

Rationing at Target in Downtown Brooklyn Monday. Photo by Susan De Vries

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    Nearly all March events were cancelled Thursday, grocery store shelves were bare at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, subway platforms are less crowded than usual, many people were toting huge bags of groceries and crazy rumors of all sorts are flying around. The smell of hand sanitizer lingers in the air. We spied a few more delivery people than usual Thursday night, so folks may be opting for takeout in lieu of sitting in a restaurant.

    The common cold is also a coronavirus, we read.

    New York City has declared a state of emergency and Cuomo banned group events over 500, but public schools and subways remain open. Officials say everyone who can should stay home.

    If you think you have been exposed, you can call 311, which is screening for testing. If you’re wondering how bad it could get, public health officials estimate deaths from coronavirus could rival the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Approximately half a million people could die from the coronavirus in the U.S. — a conservative estimate, according to infectious diseases expert Dr. James Lawler of the University of Nebraska Medical Center quoted in The New York Times.

    The earlier “social distancing” is put into place, especially in areas where no cases of the virus have appeared, death rates will be greatly reduced, according to the story.

    How have you been affected and what are you doing to prepare?

    7 p.m. update: Brooklyn has 24 confirmed cases of coronavirus; there are 95 in New York City according to the most recent information, Council Member Brad Lander said in an email today. One of these is a parent at P.S. 107. Elected officials are calling on the mayor and DOE to close the schools. The DOE has canceled field trips, a museum source told Brownstoner.

    Councilman Mark Treyger has proposed a “summer school” plan that would limit schools in operation and primarily serve children of healthcare and emergency workers, the Eagle reported. Sounds like a great idea to us.

    Small businesses are feeling the impact, but all is not doom and gloom. The Brooklyn Eagle found restaurants full in Downtown Brooklyn today, and a florist and shoe repair doing OK in Brooklyn Heights. Citi Bike has been overwhelmed as more people commute to work rather than ride the subways, according to Bklyner. A house cleaner from a Williamsburg co-operative said employers are not calling and, unusually, she’s had no work for the past two weeks, she told Brownstoner. As of today at 5 p.m., bars and restaurants can operate only at 50 percent of regular capacity to allow social distancing, the city decreed.

    Real estate closings may take longer but “new contracts continue to be signed,” according to Compass, and apparently some mortgage lenders are still eager for business — we received a note from one stating rates are in the “mid 2 percent to mid 3.5 percent range depending upon the product.” Meanwhile, the state court system announced evictions will be suspended for one week.

    One bright spot: Spring blooms are popping up all over the borough and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden remains open. “We do hope that immersion in the Garden’s early-spring collections–including the magnolias, which are now nearly fully in bloom–will bring you a much-needed respite from the news around us,” said an email from BBG.

    Editor’s note: This story was originally published at 10:15 a.m. It has been updated.

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