On a balmy Tuesday night, more than a dozen revelers crowded around a makeshift pétanque court outside Jubilee, a French bistro near the UN, yelling and cheering, laughing and singing.

Everyone was drinking. No one was wearing a mask.

It was well past 9 o’clock in Manhattan’s Turtle Bay neighborhood, and the Bastille Day celebration was in full swing.

“Nothing can stop us!” Richard Bernard cheered, raising his glass to one of the pétanque players who just scored. Next to the Bastille Day menu, were signs that read “Socialize Responsibly” and “Prevent the Spread of Covid-19 in NYC Restaurants!”

“We are careful,” explained Bernard, a 29-year-old French tutor, “but we are here to celebrate.”

Scenes like these — of young people seemingly putting themselves and others at risk — have been playing out all across the country in recent weeks, often with disastrous results. From Florida to California, Covid-19 cases are soaring.

For New Yorkers, the angst felt as they now watch this reckless revelry sweep over their own neighborhoods is multiplied by the memories of the pain they endured when the pandemic ripped through the city in the spring. Public officials have warned repeatedly in recent days that New York, once the epicenter of the pandemic, is at risk of having its hard-won efforts to contain the virus come undone.

The most recent numbers are a troubling sign: Young adults between 20 to 29 had a rate of about 35 infections per 100,000 people during the last week in June, up from about 27 the first week of the month, city health department figures this week showed. Rates for other ages largely remained flat or fell. The uptick prompted city officials to redouble efforts to educate young people about the importance of wearing masks and keeping socially distant.

Dave Astorio, who came down with Covid-19 in early May, says young people like himself aren’t the only ones to blame.

“We’re drinking to everyone’s health,” said the 31-year-old consultant, who was having a beer with two running buddies at a local sports bar a couple blocks from Jubilee. “We could’ve stopped the virus a long time ago if they gave us clear directions. Now, they want to blame it on us.”

First « 1 2 » Next