The Wall Street Journal - 28.03.2020 - 29.03.2020

(singke) #1

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. **** Saturday/Sunday, March 28 - 29, 2020 |A


Mr. Levy said. “That energy
you get from New York—it’s
all the people. Now there’s no
people. It feels like you are in
a quiet, sleepy town.”
The eerie silence that has
settled over New York is all the
more striking because of the
chaos unfolding, largely out of
sight, in the city’s hospitals,
which officials say are running
out of room and equipment.
The wails of ambulances pierce
the air of quiet neighborhoods;
nearly empty subway trains
transport health-care workers
around the clock.
New York City has ground
to a near halt as it battles the
new coronavirus pandemic.
The scope and speed of the
change to the streetscape—
and the growing human toll—
has left many New Yorkers
reaching for comparisons with
past moments of collective
trauma, such as 9/11 and su-
perstorm Sandy in 2012.

Thousands of restaurants
and small businesses are shut-
tered, leaving tens of thou-
sands of workers without jobs.
Sent home on the orders of
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, office
workers no longer crowd Mid-
town lunch stands.
The tourist engines of the
city have shut down. The lights
of Broadway still advertise for
canceled shows. The sidewalk
outside Macy’s flagship store, in
normally jam-packed Herald
Square, is so quiet you can hear
nearby HVAC systems humming.
The few sightseers remaining
step freely into the streets to
capture views of a deserted New
York City. Police officers leave
their cars to take selfies in the
middle of empty intersections.
“It’s like 6 a.m. on a Sunday
morning, but all the time.”
said Brian O’Flaherty, an of-
fice-building manager still
commuting from Long Island.
During Tuesday’s evening

rush hour, the daily White
House news briefing projected
from one of Times Square’s
largest LED screens.
The shop windows in Mid-
town’s Diamond District were
bare—no diamonds, just un-
adorned necklace stands. It
was the same in a nearly de-
serted Chinatown: Nearly all
the noodle shops, tea houses,
restaurants and other busi-
nesses were closed. On China-
town’s “Funeral Row,” the
storefront shelves at Fook On
Sing Funeral Supplies Inc. were
empty. Normally, the windows
there are full of miniature
models of sports cars and man-
sions, so the dead may enjoy
these luxuries in the afterlife.
The dim corridors of Penn
Station typically teem with
commuters. Now, the daily
racket of rolling luggage,
squeaking sneakers and buzz-
ing conversation has been re-
placed with soft jazz, played

over the building’s PA system.
“This is the cleanest and
clearest I’ve ever seen it,” said
Netta Arnold, a therapist from
Orange, N.J., who was among
just a handful of people wait-
ing for a commuter train.
Even in normal times, New
Yorkers have a particular under-
standing of personal space.
They generally will tolerate be-
ing pressed tight against strang-
ers in a packed subway car, but
bristle at a stranger who sits
too close if the train is empty.
The coronavirus has altered
and magnified this dynamic.
Some sidewalks aren’t wide
enough to allow passing pe-
destrians to keep the 6-foot
distance recommended by offi-
cials, so they turn their heads,
or step aside with a solemn
nod, or veer into the streets.
As New Yorkers have with-
drawn from Manhattan offices,
activity has picked up in other
boroughs such as Queens and

Brooklyn, where more than
half the city lives. On warm af-
ternoons, Prospect Park in
Brooklyn is thronged with cy-
clists, runners and children
playing roller hockey.
The city shutdown—manda-
tory, but difficult to enforce—
has touched off disputes about
proper social-distancing prac-
tices. Set foot on a basketball
court, or post a picture from a
crowded sidewalk, and you’ll
hear about it.
“I just want people to get
with the program,” said Jan
Combopiano, a voting-rights
activist from Brooklyn.
The shutdown also has
drawn people together.
Jim Walton, a veteran
Broadway actor who grew up
in Indiana, said the virus has
made New Yorkers more
friendly, in a small-town way.
“I’ve waved and smiled at peo-
ple as if we’re all in this to-
gether,” he said.

Before dawn on Wednesday,
Brian Levy, a union electrician,
drove to work in Manhattan’s
Financial District from his
home on Long Island. The
commute, normally clogged by
traffic, took half as long—the
roads were nearly empty.

From his perch working on
the upper floors of 222 Broad-
way, Mr. Levy looks out on a si-
lent city: darkened windows,
deserted streets, shuttered
businesses. Blocks south, as
markets opened on Wednesday
morning, an empty cobblestone
plaza gave the New York Stock
Exchange the air of a mauso-
leum. There is no morning
rush hour at the Oculus trans-
portation hub in the shadow of
the World Trade Center.
“It’s like the Twilight Zone,”

ByRebecca Davis
O’Brien,Will Parker
andCharles Passy

New York Feels ‘Like the Twilight Zone’

The Charging Bull, usually ringed by crowds snapping photos, was pretty much on its own in lower Manhattan, as New York banned all large gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


coveted entry ticket is
awarded. A 2018 civil trial laid
bare Harvard’s admission
practices, including the high
offer rates for legacies, certain
racial minorities and recruited
athletes. And the Varsity Blues
college-admissions scandal
heightened skepticism over
whether the admissions pro-
cess is truly meritocratic.
Yale’s acceptance rate
edged up to 6.5% from 6.2% as
that school continues to grow
its undergraduate student
body, and Penn’s acceptance
rate rose to 8.1% from 7.7%.
Brown University and
Princeton University both
posted drops in their admis-
sion rates: Brown slid to 6.9%
from 7.1% last year, and
Princeton edged down to 5.6%
from 5.8%.
Cornell University this year
said it would no longer issue
public statements highlighting
its admission figures. Stanford
University took that tack be-
ginning two years ago, saying
at the time that it hoped “to
help de-emphasize the per-
ceived importance of low ad-
mit rates at colleges and uni-
“While metrics such as ap-
plication numbers and admis-
sions rates are an area of fo-
cus for many as they review
annual activity in higher edu-
cation, Cornell’s thorough and
holistic review processes mean
that no one applicant’s
chances can be guided by ‘av-
erages,’ ” said Jonathan Bur-
dick, vice president for enroll-
Cornell’s move comes amid
a growing push to highlight
metrics of a school’s quality
beyond exclusivity, like stu-
dent diversity, retention and
graduation rates and job pros-
The class that will enter
these storied institutions in
the fall looks remarkably dif-
ferent from what the schools
had just a decade or two ago,
in terms of racial diversity,
their families’ educational
backgrounds and socioeco-
nomic status. At Harvard,
roughly 23% of new students’
families have annual incomes
below $65,000.

Some of the nation’s most
selective colleges became
slightly less selective this year,
as Harvard University, Dart-
mouth College and the Univer-
sity of Pennsylvania posted in-
creased acceptance rates for
the first-year class that will
begin in the fall.
Harvard admitted 1,
candidates, or 4.9% of the
40,248 who applied. Last year,
it offered spots to 30 fewer
students, while receiving al-
most 3,100 additional applica-
tions, for a record-low 4.6%
acceptance rate.
Dartmouth, meanwhile, ac-
cepted 8.8% of applicants, up
from a record-low 7.9% last
year. And Columbia Univer-
sity’s admit rate rose to 6.1%
from 5.3%, as applications
dropped by almost 2,500 and
the school admitted around
220 more students.
The eight campuses making
up the Ivy League, as well as a
number of other highly selec-
tive colleges, notified appli-
cants Thursday evening of
who secured a slot for the
coming fall’s first-year class.
This is a challenging period
for colleges, as the coronavi-
rus pandemic has scrambled
enrollment projections for
their next classes. It is unclear
how many students will be
able to travel for the start of
the next academic year,
whether residence halls will be
open, and whether families
can afford tuition payments
amid rapidly deteriorating
economic conditions.
Some schools moved stu-
dents over to the admit pile
from the wait list or “deny”
group at the last minute, to
help ensure they can enroll a
full class.
Acceptance rates can con-
tinue to shift as schools turn
to their wait lists to round out
their classes, so numbers
aren’t considered final until
the start of the school year.
The uptick in acceptance
rates at many exclusive
schools reverses a yearslong
trend that had generated a
frenzy of competition—and
scrutiny over just how each


Admit Rates Edge Up

At Ivy League Schools

the ripple effects of paring
back law-enforcement, mass
layoffs and lockdown orders.
With more people at home,
police expect domestic vio-
lence to rise. With many shops
closed, burglaries and thefts
could increase, too.
To help slow the spread of
the virus, police chiefs are di-
recting their officers not to ar-
rest people for minor offenses
and instead cite and release
them. In Philadelphia, police are
delaying arrests for nonviolent
crimes such as drug offenses
and prostitution. In Los Angeles,
where eight officers have tested
positive, petty criminals aren’t
being jailed in some cases.
“We are encouraging citing
and releasing individuals for
low-level nonviolent offenses
and that is so we limit every-
body’s exposure,” said Josh
Rubenstein, a spokesman for the
Los Angeles Police Department.
Dallas police will no longer
show up in person to take re-
ports for car break-ins, graffiti
and other minor offenses. Res-
idents must file reports online.
Two officers there have tested
In Chicago, arrests during
the past week were down 46%,
and traffic stops and investi-
gatory stops were down 60%
compared with a year ago.
In Dallas, there have been

45% fewer arrests to date in
March compared with the
March 2019 period. New York
City had a 42% drop last week
when compared the same
week last year. In Los Angeles
County, arrests dropped from
around 300 a day in normal
times to about 60.
In cities and states where
residents have been ordered to
stay at home, and nonessential
businesses have been ordered
to close, officers are shifting
their time and energy to polic-
ing a new social order.

Officers in New York City are
patrolling parks to enforce so-
cial distancing, visiting restau-
rants and bars to make sure
they are closed, and checking
supermarkets and public spaces
to make sure crowds are sparse.
In Warrenton, Mo., police
arrested 26-year-old Cody Pfis-
ter for making a terrorist
threat after he posted a widely
shared video of himself licking
items at a Walmart and saying,

“Who’s scared of coronavirus?”
His lawyer, Patrick Coyne,
said the situation is far differ-
ent than when the video was
made on March 10. “Everything
has changed at warp speed,
but that should not work retro-
actively and convert a tasteless
and impulsive act into a crimi-
nal terrorist threat,” he said.
Like many on the front lines
of the pandemic, police are
struggling with short supplies
of face masks. They also are
scrambling to sanitize squad
cars that are occupied by a va-
riety of officers and suspects.
Officers on dangerous as-
signments are faced with deci-
sions about whether to wear
protective gear or not. Frederick
Frazier, a Dallas police detec-
tive, said he chose not to wear
gloves last week when a fugitive
task force he is part of searched
for violent offenders. “We’re not
used to those gloves with our
weapons,” he said.
But some of the fugitives
were taking no chances, he
said. As they closed in to arrest
an alleged marijuana dealer in
East Dallas who was wanted
for pointing a gun at a police
officer, Det. Frazier could see
that the suspect was wearing
bright blue surgical gloves as
he plied his trade. “Man, I don’t
want to catch corona!” the man
said, according to Det. Frazier.

Law and order is changing
across America during the novel
coronavirus pandemic, as police
pull back on arrests for small-
time crimes and focus on break-
ing up gatherings that pose
health risks, while coping with
the perils of a job that can’t be
done with social distancing.
In Houston, three officers
have tested positive for the
coronavirus after apprehend-
ing a mentally ill man on the
street last week who had flu-
like symptoms.
“You can’t exercise social
distancing when you’re taking
police action,” said Houston
Police Chief Art Acevedo. “It’s
part of the risk we take.”
In New York City, 236 police
employees have tested posi-
tive, and 8.9% of the New York
Police Department’s uniformed
officers called in sick Wednes-
day, more than three times as
high as a normal day.
Large agencies such as New
York’s can use overtime and
staggered shifts to cover for
sick or quarantined officers,
but most of the nation’s 18,
police departments can’t.
“If you’ve got a department
of 50 officers and you get 10
of them that get it, that’s re-
ally a difficult issue,” said Tom
Manger, retired police chief of
Montgomery County, Md. “On
the flip side, most depart-
ments are seeing many fewer
calls for service and the crime
rates are really plummeting
because no one’s out.”
So far, crime has fallen on
the empty streets of most big
U.S. cities, including San Fran-
cisco, the first major city to
order residents to stay at
home. Serious crimes in New
York City were down last week
compared with a year ago, ex-
cept for a 50% increase in car
thefts. In Chicago, both violent
and property crime are
slightly below normal levels.
In Dallas, violent and property
crimes fell last week compared
with the previous week.
Law-enforcement officials
are paying close attention to


Police Practices Are Changing

As Pandemic Grips the Country

A Chicago officer tells a cyclist that park trails are closed, part of efforts to fight the coronavirus.


‘You can’t exercise
social distancing
when you’re taking
police action,’
Free download pdf