stage of peak and overwhelming, when most ERs were seeing over 100 to 200 cases a day with no place to put all the patients and based on evolving guidelines, the first steps to discharge patients from the ERs was being undertak- en. Healthcare workers were becoming sick in large numbers creating a shortage of frontline workers. The ICUs and the morgues were full with 18 wheeler trucks parked outside the hospi- tals to store the dead. ER to ICU to morgue to the 18 wheeler seemed like a perpetual pathway. By late April and early May, we had passed onto a stage of help- lessness, when we were running out of protection equipment for the healthcare workers, severe short- age of healthcare providers, tents outside the hospital to function as ERs, patients being treated with preventive guidelines, supportive and emotional care, with no real medications or vaccine to combat Covid. The military and profes- sionals provided from other states stepped in to fill the gaps in man- power. It was sheer resolve and dedication of healthcare providers that pulled us through to the next stage. Finally, by end of May, signs of downtrend and recovery became evident and Covid admission numbers NY mid June had dwin- dled to less than 20 or so a day per ER. Most of the healthcare workers had recovered and returned to duty. New Yorkers seemed to have adhered to rules of social dis- tancing, wearing masks. They have flattened the curve. However, with bars, churches and beaches open, do you see a second wave of the coron- avirus hitting the city and the US in the Fall? At present, Beijing is reported to be in a lockdown following an earlier relaxation. We have to study the reasons for their recur- rence of cases in order to extrapo- late. Historically, most pandemics transform into endemics. Any degree of release of lockdown will be associated with endemic hot spots. However, hot spots escalat- ing to a second wave is a serious concern and should be avoided at all costs for health, social, psycho- logical and economic reasons. This can only be achieved by measured release of lockdown, extreme vigilance and individually responsible socializing in compli- ance with barrier protection and distancing. You have also been in South Africa, worked there. What did you take away from that experi- ence? It was a very tumultuous time. Mr. Nelson Mandela had taken over amidst tremendous social upheaval against apartheid. Ultimately patience, tolerance and cooperation triumphed against apartheid. It appears that humans are always at the center of every crisis, whether it is apartheid in South Africa or 9/11 in USA or Covid around the world. The com- mon thread in recovery in all of these crises appears to be toler- ance and cooperation. What I have learned, having been through all these crises at first hand is that we as humans will be condemned to repeat our sufferings in crises, if we fail to recognize that tolerance and cooperation are prime requisites in human endeavors for a peace- ful existence. The pandemic seems to be ebbing and flowing in the United States, as in many other nations. What’s your assess- ment as to when can people go back to a normal life and this 34 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JULY-SEPTEMBER 2020 Dr. Venkataramana Vijay is a NewYork City-based cardio-thoracic surgeon at the Mt. Sinai Hospital, who also flies a Jumbo Jet from the United States to countries in Asia, and back, bringing in essential PPEs, to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Vijay