COVID 19: How does it feel to be a New Yorker right now?
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8th Dec | 9 min read

This diary is written by "Aleena" (alias), a New Yorker facing the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak.

I live in Elmhurst, New York, which has the second-highest rate of positive COVID-19 cases. The last few weeks have been pretty challenging for New Yorkers. I have been writing this diary for myself and recently decided to publish it online. This is not to instigate any fear or panic among people; these are merely my thoughts and experiences. In the coming weeks and months, I will try to write as much as I can.

April 6th, 2020

3:45 pm

Just read a news article about a tiger at the Bronx Zoo testing positive for Coronavirus. Even though I promised myself I wouldn’t read or check Coronavirus news and updates anymore, I couldn’t help it. A few other animals at the zoo are also apparently showing symptoms now, according to an article by CNN. It’s so sad that these animals are going to suffer now too. 

The last two days have been really hard. I’m always sitting close to a space heater now, thanks to the chills, and my inhaler is now my best friend. I can’t find Tylenol anywhere, and calls from my parents are my number one source of anxiety now. The last thing I want is for them to find out that I’m sick and worry. I miss getting proper sleep and being able to retain food in my body. I wish I could go out for some fresh air, but I can’t even do that now. 

April 4th, 2020

4:53 pm

So, I took off from work yesterday and finished an entire show and a movie while lying in bed under multiple blankets. The girl who could never stay at home for more than a few hours can’t even leave her room now except to get food. I feel a lot better than yesterday though. This quarantine is revealing a whole side of me that I never knew existed. Friday 9:00pms have started to feel like 10:00pms on weekdays- dull and boring. 

I wish this would be over soon. My roommate and I try to have only one full meal a day now instead of three, and munch on snacks so that we don’t run out of food. All I hear from my room is the sound of ambulance sirens, and all I can do is pray that no more people die. Around 1800 people died according to the daily update. NYC needs more ventilators and healthcare workers. I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s time I stop reading about it, to save my mental health. 

April 2nd, 2020

8:22 pm

My back really hurts, my head is still heavy and I have a bitter taste in my mouth. Not to mention this weird feeling in my chest. It hurts to even sit up and watch TV. But honestly, I’m not even worried about myself. I just pray that my roommate doesn’t get anything from me. It could just be the flu, but I still wouldn’t risk it. So I’ve locked myself in my room, and try not to use the common areas unless absolutely necessary. I’m so worried about my friend, though. He says he can’t even breathe properly. I wish he would listen to me and go to the doctor or even make an appointment at the COVID-19 south Beach area of Staten Island drive-through testing site. But he wants to wait because he doesn’t “want to occupy a bed in the hospital when there are more severe patients who need it more than he does.” I might be paranoid and overthinking, but then again, who wouldn’t worry about people they care about? 

There’s no way I can FaceTime with my parents anymore. They’ll freak out if they realize I’m sick and so far away from them in a different country. 

April 2nd, 2020


I woke up to the sound of my alarm today and tried to get up from bed, freshen up, make my coffee and log in for work. I was kinda pissed thinking that the landlord turned off the heating for the apartment again, as he does sometimes, cause my head felt heavy, and I was shivering and coughing. So I got up and checked the thermostat. It was fine. And then it hit me. Oh, fuck! My eyes were burning and watery, and I looked pale. It was definitely a fever. And so I quietly slipped back into bed, and allowed myself a few minutes to panic, before I called my best friend to check up on him. His symptoms were worse.

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April 1st, 2020

7:36 pm

The Mayor warned that April would be worse. It’s April now. I’m scared. I’m scared because I don’t know who might be next. I wish my sister and my best friend didn’t have to go to work. It’s a strange world we live in, where we put our lives on the line to be able to bring some bread home and to keep a roof over our heads. It’s been days since I last saw my friends. I miss getting out from work and grabbing dinner with my friends. I miss going out for walks. I miss the time when people did not look at each other with suspicious eyes at grocery stores, and your neighbor would hold the door open for you as you both walked into your building. I even miss taking the subway, even though I never thought that would ever be possible. There have been almost 1100 deaths today.  When is this going to end? 

March 29th,2020


So I put on my mask and gloves today, went out with my best friend to get some groceries done, came home and washed the clothes I wore outside on the sink and showered. I followed the instructions, but why am I still scared? It’s a weird gut feeling. But what was I to do? I couldn’t have survived the next few days if I hadn’t gone today, even though the shelves were pretty empty and I wasn’t able to get all the items I needed. It felt weird to go out today. The city that was once so crowded brimming with life, is dead and empty now. All you see are empty streets and people standing on lines near stores, six feet apart from each other. Each trying to hide their fears behind a mask and desperate to get some essentials for themselves or their families. Couples don’t share kisses anymore on the streets, and there are no pats on the backs. All you notice are scared eyes, each trying to be as far away as possible from the other. Well, hey, on the bright side, I can’t be indecisive about which brand to get if I can’t get anything at all thanks to the empty shelves. 

March 28th, 2020

5:28 pm

Kinda worried about what to eat for the next few days. I’m officially out of cleaning wipes and disinfectants. My laundry is piling up while my fridge is emptying. I’ve been trying to order some essentials online, but the deliveries are gonna take forever. Mom called for the 9th time today, reminding me not to step out of the house. I can’t even blame her for worrying so much, it’s getting crazy in NY. Guess I’ll have to go get some groceries when she goes to sleep and I know she won’t call. Thank God for the 12hour time difference.

March 11th, 2020


The World Health Organization declared the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak a pandemic today. According to, 114 countries have reported that 118,000 people have contracted COVID-19 and nearly 4,300 people have died. God, save the world. 

March 9th, 2020

5:13 pm

So the doctor did not see me, and I was asked to leave the premises immediately. I’m really mad, but I know I shouldn’t be. They are only doing their job. The moment I stepped out of the elevator and into the reception of the doctor’s office, I was handed a form with some symptoms and asked to check off whichever I was experiencing. Since I had gone for my migraine, I obviously marked “headache” and handed the form back. To my surprise, everyone at the reception started panicking, and it took a few seconds for me to realize that the form was given to me to make sure I did not have any coronavirus symptoms. Since I had gone there with a complaint of a headache, which happens to be a COVID-19 symptom, I was asked to leave. I did not have any other symptoms, but they wanted to be safe. So, I wonder, how many patients are being turned away from getting necessary treatments because of this? 

March 9th, 2020

4:35 pm 

I have a doctor’s appointment today for my migraine. This headache has been killing me and it’s so hard to focus on work when all you wanna do is lay down and bury your head under the blanket so the light does not irritate your eyes. So I took off from work early (I work from home), and as I was walking towards the subway station, I felt something I have never felt before. A fear to breathe. They say it’s not airborne, but why is it still scaring me? I was scared to come in contact with the turnstiles, the people around me, and even the MetroCard after swiping it. My legs are hurting in these heels, and there are empty seats, but I’m scared to sit there. For some reason, I wasn’t scared until now. Maybe I wasn’t taking it seriously before. But it feels so real now.  There have already been 704 cases in the US until today. What if I’m next? What if someone from my family is next? 

March 3rd, 2020

8:45 pm 

New Yorkers have been asked to self-isolate last week due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and so we try to stay home as much as possible and avoid going out. To be honest, this self-isolation thing is frustrating. It’s only been a few days and all I do now is eat, sleep and gain weight. I have been snapping at everyone who called me today. I wonder if I’ll still have any friends after this whole quarantine thing ends. I know I’m not the only one, cause I can hear my flatmate yelling on the phone too. This crankiness is not really a cute look. Gotta find ways to make myself look sane. So why not just write more about it to distract myself, right? Right. 

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