Weather: A beautiful day – mostly sunny and less humid, with a high in the 80s.
Parking on the alternative side: Valid until August 15 (Feast of the Assumption).
As New York City came to life in early summer, masks fell and a more typical rhythm of life returned. But for some, the threat of the virus still represented lingering anxiety.
Those concerns grew as the highly infectious Delta variant pushed the city’s daily number of coronavirus cases to its highest total since mid-May.
As the city’s vaccination campaign struggles, some epidemiologists fear authorities are acting too slowly.
[Here’s our full explainer on the state of the virus and the city’s response.]
The Delta variant
Even though cases in New York have increased, hospitalizations and deaths – measures health experts are watching closely – have not increased in the same way.
A A study conducted this week suggested that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be much less effective against the Delta variant than against the original virus, and those inoculated with it may need a second dose.
[Read more about the study’s findings and what else we know about the variant.]
Gaps in vaccination
About 58% of all New Yorkers have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to city data.
But significant disparities persisted. Only about 33% of black New Yorkers of all ages have received an injection. And about half of all residents of Brooklyn and the Bronx have received at least one dose. In Manhattan, about 70 percent have done so.
The vast majority of people currently testing positive have not been fully vaccinated, officials say.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week that more than 40,000 workers at the city’s hospitals and health clinics will soon need to be vaccinated or have weekly tests.
But the mayor was reluctant to demand the same from the 300,000 other people who work for the city, such as police, firefighters, correctional officers and office workers.
Some other major cities have restarted indoor mask mandates that even include vaccinated residents (which Mr de Blasio said he would not do) or announced plans to require all city employees to be vaccinated.
Many large employers have plans to bring back office workers in September, but some companies are starting to push back their return dates.
Mr de Blasio insisted that schools will reopen fully in September as planned and that a distance option will not be available. Children under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated, but the city plans to require students to wear masks at school, among other safety precautions.
And finally: was Astor Place Kmart haunted?
Caragh Poh writes:
Kmart opened at 770 Broadway, a commercial landmark where the West Village meets the East, in 1996. Anyone who has taken 6 to Astor Place may remember the big red “K” as the one can see from the metro platform, inviting passengers to hunt for discounts.
For those who have actually stopped by in search of a three-pack of Hanes t-shirts or a clean urban bathroom, the store could provide a memorable and sometimes haunting shopping experience. At least that was the case for everyone who shared tributes online to the store after it closed abruptly on July 11.
On Twitter, author Jason Diamond described going to Astor Place Kmart as “one of the strangest shopping experiences for reasons I’ve never been able to put my finger on.”
“I have never been to Astor Place Kmart, mainly because I was sure it was haunted”, tweeted Malika Hunasikatti, a 32-year-old policy scholar.
In recent years, Astor Place Kmart has bravely defied all logic of consumer psychology: the aisles of the store were rearranged so often that it felt like an ongoing farce. “I went in October looking for Halloween stuff, and they only had one huge St. Patrick’s Day screen,” said Valerie Kamen, a 29-year-old screenwriter living in the East Village.
In addition to featuring a mind-boggling assortment of items, the Kmart lined up in the ’90s and early days with a mishmash of celebrities and entertainment franchises. There was a time, in 1997, when U2 played in the lingerie section of the store. Garth Brooks, JoJo, Martha Stewart, Aaron Carter and Sofia Vergara all visited.
The announcement of the store’s closure was discreet, communicated through prints stuck to clothes racks and windows. But there had been rumblings for some time, and it wasn’t so surprising that others in several states began to shut down.
Yet knowing that something is coming to an end doesn’t make it any less sad, and this Kmart in particular felt different.
It’s Thursday, remember the good times.
Metropolitan Journal: Novocain
My dentist had been trying to save a large molar tooth for weeks. One Tuesday, I called him in great pain, and he pulled it out the next day.
If you’ve ever had a tooth taken out, you know that the dentist or surgeon does a few stitches and covers the opening with gauze that you replace every hour.
After leaving the dentist’s office, I got into the elevator. There was a woman standing diagonally across from me.
“Your boot laces are undone,” she said.
– I know, I say scrambled through the gauze and the Novocain. “I just had a tooth pulled out and I have a gauze wrap. I can’t bend over.
“But you’re going to trip and fall,” she said.
“It will be fine.”
“Let me tie it up for you. “
“No, you don’t have to,” I said, “but thank you.”
She knelt down, tied the loosened laces of one of my boots and tightened the laces of the other.
– That’s so nice of you, I say. “Thank you.”
“Now you won’t trip,” she said when the elevator opened downstairs.
– Arthur Davis
Illustrated by Agnès Lee. Read more about the metropolitan agenda here.
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