“Panic is highly contagious, especially in situations when nothing is known and everything is in flux.” －Stephen King
Despite the ongoing spread of the coronavirus disease, or Covid-19, Filipinos in New York City refuse to wear face masks with some not believing it will protect them from the virus.
“Everyone can be infected,” said Fely, who claimed to have been “properly briefed” by her daughter, a registered nurse.
“Who knows if we already have it in our body?” she asked. “We can have a sore throat and sneeze but, as long as we don’t have a fever, we will not die.”
Fely, who is applying to be a caregiver, nixed the face mask while waiting for a medical examination.
Meanwhile, 65-year-old insurance executive Felixberto said Filipinos find the mask “so uncomfortable.”
“Wala pa kasi silang nabalitaan na may Filipino na namatay (They have not yet heard of reports that a Filipino has died),” he explained. “Most of us are still cynical.”
“We just observe proper hygiene and take the Vitamin C,” the executive added.
While visiting a Filipino ‘turo-turo’ restaurant in Queens, customers were also spotted without masks.
“There are millions of people in New York and only less than 50 cases have been recorded in New York City－what’s the big deal?” said 58-year-old civil engineer Resty.
He refused to wear a mask and recommended washing hands regularly for 20 seconds and avoiding sickly people in the train and bus.
However, Merlyn, a woman in her 40s who accompanied an elderly female relative to the nearby Phil-Am grocery, wore a green mask.
“Mahirap mag tiwala at mag relax (It’s too risky to relax),” she explained. “Better to be safe than sorry.”
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The number of confirmed cases across New York as of March 11 was 212－48 of which were recorded within New York City.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the numbers represent a statewide increase of 39 and a city spike of 12.
As of Wednesday, New York’s hardest-hit county is still Westchester, which recently added 13 new cases to their total 121. This development has prompted authorities to announce, starting yesterday, March 12, the National Guard would begin enforcing a “containment area” in the city of New Rochelle, forcing a two-week closure of large gathering including schools and houses of worship.
Cases are also on the rise on Long Island, where Nassau County now has 28, an increase of nine; and Suffolk County has six, up by five.
“The facts here do not justify the amount of fear,” the governor stated. “The facts here actually reduce the anxiety.”
“We have 212 cases in the state of New York－32 are hospitalized,” he emphasized.
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Alex P. Vidal, who is based in New York City, used to be the editor for two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ