The state of New York has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States. At least 39,140 New Yorkers have been diagnosed with coronavirus, a deadly respiratory disease that has swept the world. So deadly, the statewide death toll has climbed up to 466 and New York’s mortuaries are running out of room for the first time since 9/11. Requests have been sent to the federal government for additional mortuaries to be built. New York City has said that they expect their morgue 900 body capacity to hit full capacity in seven days.
With over 8 million people, New York City is the county’s largest city. The Guardian highlights just how severe it is in New York City as the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic: the city alone accounts for 56% of all existing cases and “60% of new COVID-19 cases.” Over 23,000 cases and 365 deaths have been reported as of Thursday afternoon, and it is expected to get much worse. Keep in mind, the counts are laboratory-tested and confirmed COVID-19 cases and should not be confused for the actual number of people who have or have had the coronavirus in the region (Danner, Stieb, & Hart, 2020). Similarly, updates to the new case totals are not necessarily new infections — they are newly diagnosed infections (Danner, Stieb, & Hart, 2020).
City hospitals are being swamped to the point where some have shifted to being 100% focused on the treatment of coronavirus patients, banning family members from entering the premises, and are being forced to ration ventilators. Earlier this morning in a press release, Governor Cuomo stated that in the past 24 hours, the total number of people hospitalized for coronavirus increased by 40%. FEMA was also contacted for emergency assistance and the city had refrigerated morgue trucks set up outside the Manhattan Bellevue Hospital.
As of 2014, there were over 208,000 Deaf* people living in New York City alone. Deaf* New York City residents have to prepare themselves for the reality that if they are infected with coronavirus, there is a chance they will be hospitalized.
Dr. Chad Ruffin has published articles on his blog where he discusses how the pandemic would impact Deaf* patients, including those who use auditory equipment (i.e., hearing aids, cochlear implants) to communicate. It’s worth a read.
The key lesson here is, you as a Deaf* person will feel like you are being denied access because the doctors and nurses will not lower their masks. Not because the medical personnel is necessarily depriving you of access, but because they are required to do so out of safety.