Coronavirus: The city that never sleeps is having an early night

New York feels weird. The flashing lights in Times Square are on, but everyone’s at home.

A few tourists are still here, some taking selfies in face masks. The Naked Cowboy is withstanding the cold and the coronavirus but few are in the mood for a song.

Times Square fixture the Naked Cowboy has been defying the cold and coronavirus
Image:Times Square fixture the Naked Cowboy has been defying the cold and coronavirus

Checking into my hotel felt pretty depressing.

“The bar is closed, the gym is closed, the restaurant is closed and the spa is closed,” the receptionist told me.

Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area

Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area

If I want breakfast, it will have to be in my room.

“I’d stock up if I were you sir,” was the advice from the concierge. Everyone is getting used to what this means.

Coronavirus: Key facts and how to avoid catching it

Coronavirus: Key facts and how to avoid catching it

I mustn’t exaggerate. This is nothing compared to what we’ve seen in Madrid and Rome in recent days, and I doubt it will ever be like that.

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Listen to “COVID-19: America in lockdown” on Spreaker.

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New Yorkers are a resilient bunch. They’ve been through 9/11 and other tough times, but this has an air of the unknown, and that itself is daunting.

US officials have recorded more than 4,600 COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths linked to the virus.

What are the 'underlying health conditions' at greater risk from illness?

What are the ‘underlying health conditions’ at greater risk from illness?

As I write this, I read on Twitter that the satirical Saturday Night Live will not return until further notice. The New York based show is a master at taking apart the establishment.

There’s nothing funny about this situation, but I’m sure many of us could do with some comic relief at this time.

New York is epicentre for the coronavirus in America now – it has overtaken Washington State in the number of sufferers. There are 950 confirmed cases but no-one believes that’s an accurate figure. The true number will be far, far higher.

The city’s mayor has asked for sites to be identified as potential hospitals. Non-emergency operations are being cancelled to free up extra beds. These are extraordinary times, they’re preparing for the worst.

The mood is lowering as the numbers are rising, day-by-day here.

It’s just gone 8pm here and the new measures have kicked in. The bars are shut, the restaurants are turning people away. It’s quiet outside, that New York hum has gone. The city that never sleeps is having an early night.

Sky News will broadcast a special programme at 6pm, with experts answering your questions #AskSkyNews at 12.30pm

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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