2020-04-21: The McSweeney’s piece was picked up by YES! Magazine. Search for “Flatbush”. or “AIDS”.
2020-03-30: I adapted some of this blog post, and several of my tweets on this subject, for a short post on McSweeney’s:
Do Not Deny What You Feel
2020-03-29: Updated

As a child, even as I watched rockets launch from my bedroom window, the news kept us apprised of the ever-rising (American) casualties from the Vietnam War. As an adolesecent, I was fascinated and appalled by old issues of LIFE magazine published during World War II. Every article, every ad, devoted to the war. That terrified me the most: that there was no escape from it.

That’s where we are: at war.

Just like those WW2 LIFE magazines, there is no escape from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s in every segment on every news program, every article on every front page, the constant crawl across the bottom of the screen. We get the latest numbers: how many sick, how many dead. We get the unprecedented numbers of people out of work, their workplaces shutdown in efforts to contain the spread.

Yesterday, the U.S. surpassed China as the country with the largest number of confirmed cases. New York City has 1/4th of them. Within days, every hospital bed in NYC will be saturated with COVID-19 patients. Beyond that, overall death rates will rapidly increase, as otherwise survivable conditions become fatal due to lack of medical facilities.

This is all so familiar.

I moved to NYC, to the East Village, in 1979. Just in time for the AIDS epidemic. We endured as the numbers went from a handful, to scores, hundreds, thousands, tens and hundreds of thousands. We lived and loved in fear for ourselves, our community, our way of life. We worried about every little cough, every blemish, every lump or swelling, both in ourselves, and others. We lived and loved in anger at the cruelty and incompetence of a federal administration that cared nothing about us, and killed us through their indifference and inaction.

It’s all so familiar. It feels the same now, but the pace and scale have been multiplied by a thousand.


[Shortly after midnight]

I need to acknowledge what I’m feeling before I try to sleep tonight:

Endurance trauma is real.

I survived the dark 15 years of AIDS as a death sentence. That trauma is reactivated, living in NYC, the middle of the worst of COVID19.

The situation in NYC is horrific, and is only going to get worse over the next two weeks, at least. All NYC hospital beds, ICU and others, are saturated by #COVID19 patients: 6,000 hospitalized, 1,300 in ICU. 222 people died yesterday. Just the day before, 85 people had died.

So, yeah, I’m having some feelings. And that’s how we get through this: by feeling it. The only way out is through.

It’s real. And it’s scary. Leave room for yourself and others to feel what they need, to grieve, to rage, to despair.

That’s how we keep going: Together.

Related Content



Social Distancing

New York City

New York State

United States
A live, continually updated version of the map above.

The data for the map comes from here:

For “reasons”, there’s little trustworthy federal information available. The CDC is still the official source of stats.

Global, and you can select a country, and drill-down to more local figures, e.g.: states for the U.S.

This site has visualizations world-wide and by country, and you can download the data for your own analysis:

Also allows you to drill down to country level.

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