For weeks now, I’ve been working out of my home office here in Troy, taking one walk a day around my residential neighborhood in the morning with my wife and dog and not doing much else. And although I’m very much aware of what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been reporting at his daily press briefings (I’ve been covering the majority of them), I am very much removed from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although I miss my old Brooklyn neighborhood dearly sometimes, of late, I’ve been thankful that I no longer live in New York City, which has quickly become hell on earth, the epicenter of the virus’ carnage and death. I recently confessed to someone that this feels like the September 11th terrorist attacks every day. When 9/11 happened, I was in my first few weeks of senior year at Connecticut College, and I remember not only feeling numb, day in and day out, but also this sense that I wouldn’t ever be able to fully grasp what had happened, because I hadn’t been there when it did. I realize how morbid that sounds, but I assume that’s part of the reason why I continue seeing my neighbors openly flout the governor’s stay-at-home and social distancing orders. They’re not being directly affected by this virus, so what’s the need?
That shift in perspective only begins when you start hearing first-person accounts of what it’s like out there right now—from a doctor or a nurse or a local business owner. I’ve tried to make that happen on this website with our “What It’s Like” series, the most recent of which featured a young woman who had been infected with COVID-19 and thankfully, recovered. I hope, at some point, it shifts my neighbors’ perspective.
The other path to a reality check? When you hear about people you know who have been infected. Someone from my Saratoga Springs High School class today (April 8) posted a GoFundMe page on Facebook for a fellow classmate of ours who’d been stricken by the virus. I hadn’t heard his name in 20-plus years, but upon cracking open my yearbook, I remembered: Paul Jancsy, who nowadays is known to his family and friends as “Tucker,” and who had gone on to become a major in the New York Air National Guard. He’s currently on a ventilator, fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit at Saratoga Hospital.
Jancsy, who graduated from Saratoga High in 1998, earned his undergraduate degree in aeronautics from Dowling College and an MBA from Benedictine University. He spent just under nine years as a pilot in the United States Air Force, and has been serving for more than eight years in the Air National Guard and a first officer at Delta airlines for just under four.
The GoFundMe page was set up only a day ago, with a goal of $2,500, and at press time, that total has exceeded the $23,000 mark. Pitch in if you know Paul—or even if you don’t. You can help fund it here.