New York, NY – Commercial building managers are hoping the summer brings more tenants back into the office. But so far, that  return to “normalcy” has been less than expected. Some property supervisors anticipate higher volumes of commercial traffic once schools reopen later in the fall. Still others, expect to see a strong return by New Year’s. Regardless, the city is showing more signs of life — the trains, buses and subways are seeing more passengers. Workers are returning to their desks. Although not in the numbers previously anticipated, hopes for recovery are high.

Ben Kimmel.

Nevertheless, the wreckage this past year-and-a-half has wrought, along with the impact of tragic losses cannot be dismissed — nor should they be forgotten now that our city appears hopeful again. 

Recently, I’ve had the honor of talking with a group of nurses about their experiences with Covid-19. On the promise of anonymity, they have been extremely candid about what it was like handling the bodies of those who died, and of the war-like conditions they endured in the hospitals.

“We should be preparing for the fall,” one nurse told me. “We were unprepared once. It was bad enough that it happened the first time — but it would be inexcusable if we are unprepared again.”

The above comment followed a discussion about the shortage of masks and gowns the nurses experienced during the pandemic. It is no secret that in many hospitals masks were continually reused. Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] was in high demand and short supply, along with ventilators, testing supplies…the list goes on. 

“We need to learn from our past so that our history does not repeat itself,” another nurse told me.

Needless to say, after more than a year of quarantine and restrictions, crowds are beginning to reconvene. The usual routines have changed. People are forgetting the importance of social distancing, and although the vaccines are said to be effective against new strains of Covid-19, the past must not repeat itself. 

With an uptick in Covid cases recently reported in New York, the forecast for the upcoming months is unclear. This goes beyond the medical profession. Schools will resume soon and topics such as mandatory student immunization are at the forefront of conversations. 

According to the St. John’s University website, “St. John’s will require all students to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and, to provide proof of vaccination before returning to campus for the fall semester. … St. John’s University, defined as students not physically on-campus for the duration of the degree, do not need to provide proof of vaccination.”

Meanwhile, no such regulations have been mandated for the staff, and due to union agreements, the university cannot make the vaccine mandatory for their teaching staff..

The success of our future to safely navigate through post-pandemic chapters are in need of attention. As we plan our reentry, it is important to make certain that past failures do not become part of our new normal. No one knew what to expect before and no one knows what to expect now. All we know is that, although we have some breathing room, it makes sense to be prepared.
Nobody wants another shutdown. Regardless of all the opinions coming from both the vaccinated and the anti-vaxxers, we should listen to the nurses and be prepared. 

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at



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