New ‘distress alarm,’ ambulance display on Empire State Building incites panic in New Yorkers

Some New Yorkers have been rattled by a rotating red ambulance-light display on top of the Empire State Building that was intended to honor the emergency workers battling the coronavirus.

One city resident, Rita J. King, commented that she appreciates the notion of support for the healthcare heroes but that going back to the normal pulsing heartbeat light effect would be preferable “to soothe nervous New Yorkers now sheltering in place.”

Another tweeted in agreement, “Just make it a normal Empire State Building. Nice, soothing white. A symbol of New York. Our buildings do not need to look like they are also panicking.”

Still another city resident added, “we know we’ve really screwed things up when the empire state building gets mad.”

The hyper-sensitive state of mind in New York in the midst of the health crisis is apparent, judging by social media reactions. One user expressed the opinion that the ambulance-style light effect on the Empire State Building is “very distressing to see, incites panic.”

Yesterday, an announcement was posted to the iconic building’s Twitter account stating: “Starting today, @empirestatebldg’s classic white lights will be replaced with America’s heartbeat and a siren of red and white in the mast as we pay respect to our heroic emergency workers on the front line of the fight.”

No one is contesting the importance of honoring the heroism of all the people putting their own lives on the line to try to save those being struck down by the unprecedented pandemic contagion. Those emergency workers in New York City are especially worthy of tribute, given the selfless efforts they are expending against the fastest spreading deluge of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the country.

As of very early March 31, there are 38,087 confirmed cases in the city and 914 deaths attributed to the virus. According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the virus in New York might not peak for at least another two weeks.

Modern Healthcare reported that city medical workers say they have never faced an emergency on this scale before …

“I’ve been doing this for a long time. Through the course of my career I have worked through the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and 9/11 and been in Los Angeles for an earthquake,” said Dr. Billy Goldberg, an emergency-room physician at NYU Langone and the emergency department’s vice chairman for business operations and strategic planning. “This is on a larger scale and very different from anything I’ve experienced.”

Decision-makers for the Empire State Building may have to reassess their well-intentioned light scheme, given the impressions many in the city are being left with.


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