MIAMI, Florida –
For the first time in almost…well…forever, New York, the city that never sleeps, is in a coma—save for the ubiquitous sounds of ambulances transporting COVID-19 patients. Time Square is a veritable ghost town and the subway is empty…and clean. New York’s Javits Center, usually bustling with thousands of people attending trade shows and conventions, is now a 1200-bed emergency field hospital. Nothing’s the same.
There are no sunbathers on Florida’s South Beach, or cruise ships sailing into its ports—except for the Holland America’s Zaandam and Rotterdam hovering in its waters with hundreds of sick passengers waiting to be rescued. To boot, Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued a stay-at-home order in the state.
The Caribbean, the heartbeat of the region, is rendered quiet without events like Jamaica carnival, and in most countries there, only essential services are permitted. Coronavirus cases are rising and the economic fallout is taking its toll.
Meanwhile, Italy—the center of Catholicism—is on total lockdown and Pope Francis’ Holy Week and Easter services, which used to attract tens of thousands of people, will happen without public participation.
Airports and seaports are bare, hotels are empty and cruise ships are docked, while trains, buses and other modes of transportation are mostly halted.
Colleges, schools, government offices, restaurants, and other businesses are closed or barely operating and people are being encouraged or ordered to stay at home.
This coronavirus pandemic has forced the proverbial wheels of production to a halt, and—like it or not—we’re all living in a virtual reality.
With people working from home and parents homeschooling their children, the internet has become more of a lifesaver than we’ve ever imagined. College students are continuing their courses online, with professors conducting classes virtually. There are eLearning programs for high schools, middle schools, and even kindergarten. Children, especially those with autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities, who depend on various therapies are unable to go to therapy clinics and many have opted out of in-home therapies as a safety measure. Teletherapy is now how a large number of these children are receiving well-needed services, using platforms such as Doxy, Facetime, and Google Hangouts.
Medical patients with non-life-threatening conditions are getting diagnoses and treatments from their doctors through virtual programs like Teladoc…because getting up close and personal can bad for your health.
In the traditional media space, hosts on set adhere to social distancing guidelines and are sitting farther apart from each other…others are working from home studios. In fact, we’ve seen more journalists and pundits’ living rooms on TV than on a Property Brothers marathon. Yes, we continue working, having virtual meetings, having church services online or through conference calls. Families living oceans apart or a few blocks away are updating and checking in on each other on social media, through video chats and other communication apps.
We are coping…and surviving…by virtue of our online capabilities, using laptops, tablets or cellphones. At a time when “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” seems to be the new anthem, we are closer than ever, through this virtual world.