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Greetings from The Epicenter

By Larry Price

Greetings from the epicenter of the pandemic. The real epicenter. I live in Union City, New Jersey which is a city of 68,000 on the west bank of the Hudson River overlooking NYC. It is a small city, only 1.29 square miles, and is reputedly the second most densely populated city in the country.

As of Wednesday, April 22nd, there were 2144 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Union City with 103 deaths. Or one case for every 32 people in Union City. By way of comparison, on Thursday April 23rd, NYC had 141,754 confirmed cases in a population of 8.4 million, or one case for every 59 people in NYC.

New York State just announced the results of a study that they did based on antibodies. Their conclusion: NYC’s rate of infection was 21.1% or 1.75 million people. The confirmed total of 141,754 cases is a mere fraction of the total cases.

If Union City were to scale up in line with the experience of NYC, our rate of infection would be nearly 40% with 26,800 cases. That is scary: one in two adults that you meet is likely to have been infected.

The great irony is that I do not know a single person in Union City who has been confirmed positive. And I have lived here for fifty years and have been active in the community; I know a lot of people. Part of the problem may be that I have been in hiding the last month and have missed news. But the telephone works fine and I keep up.

The better explanation is probably that Covid-19 targets the disadvantaged members of society. Half of the deaths were elderly people in local nursing homes. People forced to live in crowded conditions or to take jobs with close contact with the public really have no way of protecting themselves. Witness the large number of medical personnel swathed in armor who still get infected. I do not know many of these people.

I have this consolation. For the last two months, Union City has been one of the most dangerous cities in the country. In the predicted second wave, surviving the first may bring herd immunity, making Union City one of the safest.

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