One of the things about national or even global crises is that initially there is an upsurge of individualistic thinking by some people as they rush out and hoard vast quantities of stuff, thus denying them to others, even to those in greater need. Then we have the backlash with appeals for solidarity and sharing, that we are all in this together and that we need to be kind to others and cooperate. But as the crisis drags on, people’s patience and sense of good will may tend to wear thin and they start looking out again for just themselves or their immediate community.
In the state of New York, we may be seeing the start of the third phase as people in the less-populated upstate regions resent the surge in arrivals of people from New York City who are fleeing an area that has high rates of infection but in the process are spreading the infections to other areas.
As New York City has become the center of the coronavirus crisis in the United States many citizens, especially wealthier ones, have fled the city to second homes or rentals – but they have been met with hostility, fear and blame for potentially spreading the illness.
The flood of potentially disease-bearing city folk into countryside communities has even seen threats of violence and pleas from local politicians for them to stay away.
The Rensselaer county Facebook page is awash with people calling for an all-out ban on people traveling north from New York City.
“Put the National Guard right at the damn Hudson River or other points, nobody crosses that line,” wrote one commenter.
“Think about our families too, STAY DOWN THERE.”
Locals in these communities argue their hostility is not simply parochialism. Many harbor concerns about the ability of rural communities to manage an outbreak, given shortages of medical supplies, stretched hospitals and less access to food and groceries.
The more densely populated east coast is more likely to experience this kind of tension. New York City especially is the home for many wealthy people who also own homes in suburban and rural areas that they retreat to on weekends and for vacations. These people are abandoning the city in droves, causing some jealousy and resentment among those left behind in the city who do not have this option, as well as among the people in the communities they are moving to.