A photo of a crowd packed together outside bars in the NYC gayborhood of Hell’s Kitchen went viral on Sunday as few patrons were seen wearing masks or implementing proper distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. New York City began its phase 1 reopening on Monday.
Wrote Stephen James Markey, a nurse case manager, on Facebook, who shared a photo: “It’s called a mask gays … They ain’t asking you to wear a condom 🤦🏼♂️ Slap in the face to all healthcare workers and defiance of law. Reason why you won’t progress to Phase 2 right here.”
Other Facebook commenters, some of whom said they witnessed the scene, expressed their anger.
“I’ve been to or walked by that intersection 3 times in the last month and it is EXACTLY what you see in this photo. I felt like the only person in a mask,” said one commenter.
Wrote another commenter: “I live near it too. I go for a walk daily and usually not many people are around. Today was this! I was so f**king annoyed with everyone. I was literally the nutbag screaming “WHERE ARE YOUR F**KING MASKS?!” to people. Everyone was looking at me like I was the crazy one.”
Another commenter, wrote, “This disgusts me.”
Another added: “Why have I been sitting alone in my apartment for three months, only seeing a friend or two like once a week out in the park, if these guys are just going to blow it in the end?”
“Walked by this on Saturday too. Exactly what it looks like. Went from a protest where like 95% of people were wearing masks to this HK ‘block party’ where maybe 5% of people were wearing masks. Have to push through masses of maskless gays like it’s Times Sq,” said another.
Matthew Neff, a designer who sells a large selection of colorful neoprene face masks, published a video of the same area, writing, “What the f**k is wrong with these people in Hells Kitchen? This stupidity happened on 9th avenue today. Was the end of the pandemic announced? Did the vaccine arrive and I didn’t get the iPhone alert? Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mask order says that anyone who is out in public New York and is unable to maintain social distance must wear a mask or a face covering over their mouth and nose. I dont see masks. I even see people meeting and shaking hands.”
“Many of us (including myself) don’t get to go back to work until Phase 4 of reopening,” Neff added. “If we let people act this carelessly without repercussions we aren’t going to go back to work for a long long long time.”
Longtime activist David Mixner, who lives in the area, shared the photo and expressed his rage in all caps: “THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! EVEN IF THEY DON’T CARE FOR THEIR OWN HEALTH, I WISH THEY CARED FOR MINE.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told New Yorkers on Monday that they needed to “stay smart” as the reopening begins. He pointed out that California, Florida, Texas and Arizona have all seen spikes in COVID-19 infection rates.
Said Cuomo: “Look at the reopening date and look at when what happened after they reopened. That is the cautionary tale, my friends. You have to stay smart after the opening because if you don’t, you can see a spike. That is the last thing that we want to see.”
The NYT reports: “Though the virus remains a threat, new infections have fallen to about 500 a day, or roughly half the number from just weeks ago. City and state officials have significantly expanded testing, and hope that newly hired contact tracers — who have been charged with tracking the disease’s spread from person to person — can isolate the virus before it can resurge.”