One thing we see and hear regularly during this pandemic is “we’re all in this together.” It’s a statement that can actually carry several different meanings. Are we all supporting health care workers and first responders however we can? Of course! Are we all feeling a similar fear? Most likely. Are we all feeling the same challenges with finances and employment? To a certain extent. But are all New Yorkers facing the same circumstances in terms of the scale of this public health outbreak? Certainly not.
The dialogue about the difference between Upstate and Downstate has been taking place for generations. We’ve always been different regions, with different needs and priorities, but no matter what, we’ve always been one New York. Uniting as one State gives us one of the largest and best State University systems in the nation, incredible landscapes and beautiful geography unmatched in the US, and a pride in our home as the business and financial capital of the world. Despite how unified we are in our pride, in our respect for our history, and in our hope for the future, this outbreak has shown some stark differences between Upstate and Downstate.
As of today (4/30/20), more than 300,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for COVID-19, with more than 18,000 New Yorkers tragically dying from the virus. But the stark reality is that the Downstate regions – the Northern suburbs of New York City (Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Westchester Counties), New York City, and Long Island (Suffolk and Nassau Counties) – account for 94% of New York’s positive cases and 96% of New York’s fatalities. More staggering, that region accounts for 28% of the US positive cases and 29% of all US fatalities. This is with New York State accounting for less than 6% of the US population.
Upstate New York’s economy was already much more fragile that Downstate, with a staggering population loss of more than one million in the last decade. Despite promises and commitments from politicians, even the most successful areas of Upstate New York have struggled to find success – and are currently facing the most significant economic challenge in recent history.
Downstate will need much longer to recover and reopen – the numbers cited above are clear evidence the regions of New York have been impacted by and responded to this outbreak differently. So, wouldn’t it make sense to begin to reopen our State in a similar region? Let’s put smart measures in place to protect our most vulnerable citizens, place reasonable restrictions on travel, and enable the incredible work ethic of Upstate to begin to rebuild.
We are all in this together. Our brothers and sisters Downstate continue to proceed with caution in the biggest COVID-19 hotspot on the planet. However, this is the time for our governmental leaders to allow Upstate to lead, to succeed, and to serve as an economic launching pad to accelerate our recovery when Downstate is finally able to reopen.
We’re all New Yorkers. Let us show you New York Strong.