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Was NYC’s urban density really the problem?

I posted this chart on Twitter last night. It’s from the WSJ showing new weekly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Florida, New York, and the U.S. as a whole. Now, the first thing I will say is that I relinquished my hopes of becoming an amateur epidemiologist back in April. I have no idea how this is all going to play out. But as an urbanist, it is interesting to note that back in April, many believed that New York City’s urban density was a real problem and the almost singular cause of its high number of cases (despite many other big and dense cities around the world doing much better). There was also a belief (or hope) that warmer temperatures might have a positive impact on transmission rates. That’s maybe why Florida was doing relatively better. But things have flipped. Cases in Florida are up and California just surpassed NY for the US state with the most number of cases. So who knows what will happen next. But what I do know is that wearing a mask isn’t a big deal (I have mine with me all the time) and that big urban centers will be just fine. City Observatory recently published apartment search data suggesting that dense cities have actually been getting more, rather than less, attention in the wake of COVID. That doesn’t surprise me.

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