By José Francisco Ávila
As I celebrate my birthday, I am grateful to God for all the Blessings in my life, as we continue our lives under P.A.U.S.E. (“Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone”) due to the COVID-19 crisis. I ♥️ New York. Together, we will get through this.
On March 7, 2020, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, declared a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York, as the number of coronavirus cases in New York rose to 89. Three weeks later, the governor Cuomo announced the signing of the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone. It includes a new directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8PM on Sunday, March 22. Furthermore, on April, 6 amid ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo announced that Pause Functions were extended for an additional two weeks through April 29th.
Based on the Governor’s declaration, I decided to comply with the stay at home the stay at home request. After much deliberation and consideration of various announcements, including the Governor’s State of Emergency declaration, we decided to cancel the forum ¿Y Nosotros Qué? The Central American Afro-Latino(a) Diaspora scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2020 at Hostos Community College, as a precautionary measure to minimize potential risk to the community as we monitor the coronavirus outbreak in New York City.
I am reminded of my first experience with the curfew and marshal law Honduras endured in 1963. I was 9 years old living in my birth city of Trujillo when the military took over the Honduran government on October 3, 1963, ten days before a scheduled election. Oswaldo López Arellano replaced Ramón Villeda Morales as the President of the country and initiated two decades of military rule.
Military rule implemented martial law, or the imposition of direct military control of normal civilian functions by the government. The control included a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am, when we were required to return to and stay in our houses or homes.
Six years later, at the age of 15 while living in the city of La Ceiba, I once again experienced a curfew and marshal law. In 1969, El Salvador and Honduras fought a four-day conflict that cost thousands of lives and displaced thousands more – a bloody struggle still remembered as the Football War. It was the results of the Football War, a brief war fought between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. Existing tensions between the two countries coincided with rioting during a 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifier. The war, which has been called the “The Soccer War,” began on 14 July, when El Salvador ordered its forces to invade Honduras, and launched warplanes to bomb the country. Once again, a curfew was imposed from 6 pm to 6 am.
And the pain did not end there. trade ceased between both nations. I remember that just about all consumer products, including matches, became scarce since they were imported from El Salvador. The memory returned, as I watched and read the news of the toilet paper shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, a supply shortfall caused by a surge in demand that goes beyond just panic buying and hoarding.
Today, April 8, 2020, New York State has more cases of the coronavirus than any single country in the world, with nearly 150,000 people who have tested positive. And the news gets worse: The state reported its highest single-day death toll on Wednesday 779 bringing its total to at least 6,298.
It is increasingly clear that the the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a dramatic change in our nation’s attitudes and concerns. Our era will be defined by a fundamental timeline: the period before COVID-19 and the new normal that will emerge in the post-viral era: what some are calling the “next normal” which includes classification of businesses and employees as essential and nonessential, only going outside for essential tasks. Those tasks include working for an essential business, getting groceries and supplies or securing necessary medical care. Furthermore, if we must go outside, we must comply with Social Distancing Rules in New York State, by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others and wear a face covering.
As we continue our lives under P.A.U.S.E. (“Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone”) due to the COVID-19 crisis. It is important that we take the safety and health of our community very seriously by accepting the “next normal”. It is also important to remember that just like previous crises, this too shall pass. I trust Governor Cuomo when he says. That “We are going to make it through! We are going to be okay! I ♥️ New York. Together, we will get through this.