This month marks the three-year anniversary of the first documented COVID-19 case in New York City. On March 9, 2020, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that there were 16 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city, and the World Health Organization declared the virus as a global crisis that March 11. NYC’s infection rate quickly became five times higher than the
rest of the country and a third of overall confirmed cases in this country, causing it to be recognized as an epicenter.
While it’s been reported that the virus originated in Wuhan, Hubei, China, during 2019, a recent Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) study revealed the strain that surfaced in NYC originated from Europe and other U.S. areas.
“We sequenced genomes from COVID-19 cases identified up to March 18,” said Harm van Bakel, PhD, assistant professor of genetics and genomic sciences at ISMMS. “These cases were drawn from 21 New York City neighborhoods across four boroughs (Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn), as well as two towns in neighboring Westchester County.”
According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), a total of 3,248,946 cases were reported locally since the beginning of the pandemic, and at least one resident in 186 contracted COVID-19, with a total of 44,998 reported deaths over the course of the past three years.
The first confirmed COVID-19 case in New York City was on March 1, 2020, although later research revealed that it could have been circulating here since at least that January. By that March 29, more than 30,000 local cases had been confirmed.
In early March 2020, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York State after 89 cases had been confirmed in the state. On March 16, local schools were closed, and on March 20, an executive order forced businesses to close, causing hundreds of thousands to collect unemployment. The MTA operated sparingly and multitudes of New Yorkers were unable to get to work.
With hundreds dying daily locally, on March 22, a statewide stay-at-home order (also known as the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order) went into effect, mandating all non-essential businesses be closed, and that people be quarantined at home.
The state mandated face masks and social distancing for those who had to go out in public, and fines dished out to those who disobeyed this order. By the end of the month, New York City had accumulated more confirmed coronavirus cases than China or the UK. Bodies of the deceased began piling up in hospitals and overflowed the city morgue. Space was being cleared at Jacob Javitts Center, local arenas, parks, and other spacious locations as temporary holding sites.
Soon de Blasio imposed a city-wide curfew and lockdown over the next few months in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread. Crimes, particularly gun violence, escalated dramatically ever since then, and due to the mass loss of tax revenue and wages, some financial analysts have predicted a steep drop not seen since the Depression era of the 1930s.
According to recent data from the Johns Hopkins University website, the coronavirus has resulted in a worldwide 676,609,955 total cases; 6,881,955 deaths; and 13, 338, 933,198 vaccine doses administered. In NYC, there have been 6,794,738 confirmed cases and 77,157 deaths.
With a number of variants being circulated since the pandemic began, some have upgraded the virus to “COVID-20, COVID-21, COVID-22, and COVID-23.” Although many people have returned to work and/or their studies, the city has yet to fully recover to the way it was in 2019 B.C.—Before COVID.