New York’s state of mind: Part II — Former TH reporter shares account of COVID-19 in Big Apple –

For me, it started with a tickle in my throat, like many minor illnesses begin.

The next day, I knew I was sick achy, raspy-throated and really, really tired. It was a week before I realized I had COVID-19.

For 10 days March 16-26 my symptoms, some familiar and some peculiar, took turns laying me low: One day, a behind-the-eyes headache with burning eyes, and the next day, periodic dizziness and lack of appetite. What I could count on every day was a deep fatigue and not being able to smell or taste anything.


My symptoms gradually subsided, and one day, I realized I felt normal.

The next day, my husband, Clayton Pederson, 66, started feeling funny. For nearly two weeks, he had symptoms similar to mine but with a lingering cough. Then, he, too, got better.

Although we are both in the age range targeted most aggressively by COVID-19 (I am 71), neither of us had its hallmark symptoms fever, deep cough and trouble breathing. We were not sick enough to get tested at the time, although intense testing throughout New York City has been instituted, and we could get a free COVID-19 test down the street from our Bronx apartment.

Instead, we recently went to a CITYMD Urgent Care clinic and got blood draws for COVID-19 antibodies. We both tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, meaning we have developed some amount of immunity for some amount of time. The virus is too new to know much about immunity to it. We continue to follow all safe health guidelines.

We were both sick in the early days of the pandemic in New York City, as all hell broke loose and the country watched horrific scenes from overwhelmed hospitals.

Thankfully, after more than two months of strict social isolation, the cases of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths here have declined almost daily.

As of this writing, the city will count its 200,000th COVID-19 case and nearly 20,000 people have died from the virus.

The pandemic has not devastated New York City equally. While higher-income neighborhoods like in Manhattan have seen lower rates of infection, much higher numbers in the outer boroughs such as the Bronx and Queens have been fueled by poverty and the density of multigenerational households.

Our part of the Bronx, along the Grand Concourse near Yankee Stadium, ranks in about the middle for the number of cases. In our ZIP code alone COVID-19 has killed 256 people.

We moved from Bellevue, Iowa, to be closer to our daughter (pregnant with twins) and her husband and our 6-year-old granddaughter.

For more than two months this spring, due to strict rules set down by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as New York Pause, we couldnt see them or any of our friends. We only left our apartment for short walks or to buy groceries, fully masked, gloved and sanitized.

Since our positive antibody test results, we have resumed an abbreviated schedule of nannying our granddaughter. This entails riding two subway lines down to the Upper West Side and back to the Bronx.

New Yorks subways nearly are empty (ridership is down 90% from more than half a million riders daily) and are deep cleaned every night between 1 and 5 a.m. the first time all 36 lines have been shut down. The homeless who sleep on the trains overnight also are removed and offered shelter and services.

I feel two types of deep grief throughout New York City. The most obvious is the pain and suffering caused by so many deaths and internal injuries caused by a virus that struck so hard and so fast, bringing a great city to its knees in a few weeks.

The other grief is just starting to seep into the psyches of millions of natives and newbies alike. Its a broader sadness for a life and a city many fear will never recover as it was. The social fabric has unraveled, fear has replaced trust, whatever future can be imagined is bleak on so many levels.

We help pack up 1,000 meals every Friday to be distributed to hospital workers, other essential workers or anyone who is hungry through World Central Kitchen. There are hundreds of formal and informal food distribution sites around the city since about one of every five working New York City residents has lost their job. One site is on the end of our block and folks start lining up well before it opens once per week.

We continue to social distance, wear face masks and gloves and are ever so grateful that our bouts of COVID-19 were as mild as they were.

Nevans-Pederson is a retired Telegraph Herald reporter, formerly of Bellevue, Iowa. She and her husband, Clayton Pederson, live in New York City.

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New York's state of mind: Part II -- Former TH reporter shares account of COVID-19 in Big Apple -

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