Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

One of the precious ventilators that city hospitals will need in large numbers over the next days.

New York City and State appear to be racing toward the dreaded sharp, soaring peak in coronavirus cases that all the efforts to “flatten the curve” had aimed to avoid. Even after that peak has passed, however, it could be some time before life is back to normal.

Those two facets of the crisis pose different challenges to two of the systems that are enduring the most strain during the public-health crisis: the hospitals, which could be overwhelmed by the task of treating a rapidly mounting caseload in the next two to three weeks, and the public school system, which has to sustain a sudden, massive experiment in online learning for nearly a million kids over the next one to three months.



Read our coverage of New York City’s Coronavirus crisis.

“I think we need to stop focusing so much on these exquisitely detailed hour-by-hour reports on how many people have been tested and how people are testing positive,” Mark Levine, a Manhattan City Councilmember who chairs the Council’s health committee, told WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show on Wednesday. “We need to keep our eye on one thing and one thing only and that’s the hospitals. That’s the battlefield.”

At present, the number of people hospitalized appears to be doubling every four days. “If that keeps doubling very four days,” Levine said, “you’d think in a week or so we are going to be in a very, very difficult situation.”

Meanwhile, the school system is trying to make a sudden shift to online learning work—for families with easy broadband access and those without, and from kids as young as five to high-school seniors. Amid the crisis, it is not even certain exactly what the educational goals are, except to keep kids connected to learning, Alex Zimmerman, a reporter for ChalbeatNY, told the program.

“I think that this is such a crisis environment that they are just scrambling to keep things in motion anyway they can,” he said. “I would be surprised if there are real, tangible metrics about what to expect. So far they haven’t even told schools whether the course content they are delivering to students should count, should it be graded.”

Listen to each of those conversations, or the full show, below.

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