New N.Y.C. Lockdowns Are a Necessary Precaution


Amid rising COVID-19 numbers, additional lockdowns are necessary in New York City. (Courtesy of Twitter).

Noah Osborne, Staff Writer

When COVID-19 cases first began to surge in the U.S., New York was among the various epicenter states that were hit the hardest in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. However, there would be some semblance of recovery for New York with all three of those numbers falling exponentially between March and the bulk of the summer. So much so that businesses began to re-open, and public schools cumbersomely found ways to resume through in-person, virtual or hybrid learning methods. However, while the president repeatedly pushes the narrative that we are “rounding the curve,” it certainly does not appear that way for New York.

With cases of COVID-19 surging in Brooklyn and Queens, “rounding the curve” seems to be far from what is actually happening in New York, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio warning of a second wave of lockdowns as another wave of the virus approaches. New York witnessed the extensive damage of a lockdown and still feels the effects of it today, with small businesses shutting down permanently and almost an exodus out of New York with many not being able to afford the high costs of living. Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to leave New York, and many end up staring down the intimidating corridor of potential eviction because they cannot afford their rent or even the costs of living. However, it seems that we are looking at the inevitability of another lockdown, as it was announced that non-essential businesses and schools are slated to close in nine zip codes if approved by the state, according to de Blasio. 

“How much is a human life worth?” asked Gov. Cuomo during one of his earlier COVID-19 briefings, as he laid the groundwork necessary to contain the spread of the virus. A lockdown is a good idea if the state is looking to mitigate the number of potential lives lost, but it is an equally bad one for small businesses that managed to survive the first lockdown and are barely on the road to economic recovery. If New York wants to prioritize saving the lives that are necessary to boost the economy through their meaningful contributions to society, enforcing another lockdown would be instrumental in obtaining this end. 

However, if New York is more concerned with the state of the now-fractured economy, both Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio should reconsider this approach. A lockdown in the era of COVID-19 is a double-edged sword. On one hand, there is the ability to slash the number of hospitalizations, cases and deaths through stricter measures; on the other hand, there is the ability to slash through an economy that can no longer sustain slashes. However, if Cuomo and de Blasio are to have this discussion, the framework of the earlier question posed needs to be fundamentally revised. Instead of asking the value of a human life, what should be questioned is the value of an economy without citizens to contribute to it.

What would truly complicate such a discussion would be the pros and cons of instituting another lockdown. The pros for another lockdown are plentiful, as lives could be saved, and New York could come one step closer to truly rounding the corner of a pandemic that has already claimed upwards of 200,000 lives across the country. A lockdown would also mean that the state can move closer to a substantially lower infection rate, thus kickstarting a more efficient and safer narrative on reopening schools in a way that continues to maintain a low infection rate while simultaneously ensuring that schools are adequately equipped for both learning and preventing the virus’s spread. 

Conversely, the cons of such lockdown are equally abundant, as another lockdown may be what amputates an already crippled economy struggling to walk again. Businesses will be forced to shut down again, and they may not be as fortunate to survive this lockdown as they were the prior one. Another lockdown could skyrocket the number of people — currently 4 million — receiving temporary unemployment benefits. Additionally, in terms of public schools, which have unequivocally struggled and continue to struggle in terms of reopening, the millions of parents who are losing sleep over their children’s futures will not find any reprieve. This is already a world of confusion for many parents and students, with ever-changing guidelines and policies that many will struggle to adapt to.

To mitigate these outbreaks, New York — much of America for that matter — should follow science and continue wearing masks and stay socially distant. Wearing masks should not be perceived as an infringement of rights; they should be seen as a shield for them. Without mandatory mask wearing, America may never heal from the scars of the pandemic. The economy will continue to crumble, school systems will continue to stumble further into dissonance and people will continue to die. By wearing a mask, not only will Americans be able to defend their own lives and rights, but they will also  protect the lives of others all around them. 

In a nation divided, another lockdown would surely further polarize Americans. However, if we truly care for our lives, our families, our friends and humanity at large, another lockdown may be the first step towards a more permanent recovery. Another lockdown may be what brings freedom for the future.

Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.