Everyone who lived until September 11th, whether we witnessed the scene in person or watched it on television, suffered the emotional wounds of the day.
I still flinch when a low plane flies overhead. And I will never forget the tragedy I witnessed that day. But I’m trying to focus on the little kind acts that helped me get over it.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at the desk in the Wall Street Journal office building opposite the World Trade Center. After the plane crashed, our building evacuated and a small staff member who came to work early gathered outside. We were obsessed with what was happening around us and devastated, but it helped us focus on our work and reported what happened that day.
My mission was to walk towards the tower to interview people on earth. I told a woman working at the North Tower the tragic story of feeling buckling on the floor when an airplane hits a building. She said she felt like she was riding a roller coaster with the entire floor rippling up and down. When she told me she had run down more than 70 steps, I heard a strange throat.
We stood a block or two away from the North Tower, but both slowly turned to the noise and saw the tower begin to collapse. A crowd of horrified people was running towards us. It was hard to handle what was happening, but it reminded me of the Godzilla movie scene. The woman I was talking to understood it before I did. “Falling!” She screamed and grabbed my hand. “Run!”
I started running, but I was wearing heels and could only shuffle. So I took off my shoes and ran barefoot.
Huge clouds of debris devoured us, and people began to scatter as they tried to enter the interior of nearby buildings. A doorman in an apartment waved his arm and invited us to hide. Once inside, the inhabitants welcomed us into the house, watered the drinks, and wet the towels to wipe off the ashes. A woman named Philis noticed my bare feet and happened to give me the right size Birkenstock sandals. She was visiting from Atlanta and told me to keep them.
I found that I needed those shoes. When I tried to go home all day, I walked nearly 10 miles. First, an evacuation vessel took us across the river to New Jersey, away from the dangers of Lower Manhattan. I met a man who was about to go home, so I walked north along the water with him to find a ferry or bridge that would allow me to return to my family in the city. Everything shut down for security reasons, but we continued walking and finally arrived at George Washington Bridge at the top of Manhattan. It was late at night before we were allowed to cross and go home.
Around 10 pm, when I finally set foot in my Brooklyn apartment, my two-year-old kid was awake and waiting for me. “Mom got new shoes,” she exclaimed.
I couldn’t return the sooted ash-covered shoes because I didn’t know how to contact Philis from Atlanta. But I still think of her every year at this time, and I am grateful that her first instinct during the crisis was to help strangers.
Listen to a related audio story from my colleague Dan Barry.
What does it mean to never forget?
What should I do if I am exposed to Covid-19?
This week, Twitter readers asked for advice for adults and children exposed to those who tested positive for Covid-19. Guidance depends on whether you are vaccinated, unvaccinated, or positive or negative after crossing the road with an infected person.
I recommend to help you understand what to do next This useful decision chart From Michigan Medicine. Even if you are vaccinated and wearing a mask when exposed to an infected person, testing and precautions may be required.
Read the flowchart:
You have been exposed to Covid-19. So what?
The real risk of breakthrough infections
We need to do our best to take reasonable precautions against Covid-19, but I think vaccinated people have become overly concerned about the risk of breakthrough infections.
As Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco Recently tweeted: “Last month’s message in the United States basically helped scare vaccinated people and make qualified unvaccinated adults question the effectiveness of the vaccine.”
My colleague David Leonhard recently explained the real risk of breakthrough infections. He wrote:
How unlikely is the average vaccinated American infected with Covid? Probably about 1 in 5,000 people per day, even lower for those who are taking precautions or living in vaccinated communities.
Estimates here are based on statistics from three locations that reported detailed data on Covid infections by vaccination status. Virginia; King County, including Seattle, Washington. All three are consistent with the idea that one in 5,000 vaccinated Americans have tested positive for Covid every day for the past few weeks.
In places with the worst Covid outbreaks, such as the Southeast, the chances are certainly high. Also, in places with much lower cases, such as northeast, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, it is unlikely, perhaps less than 1 in 10,000. Here’s one way to think about a 1 in 10,000 chance a day: It takes more than three months for the total risk to reach just 1%.
Of course, even if you are vaccinated, you still need to take precautions. I wear masks to grocery stores and doctors. When I’m indoors, I wear a mask and I don’t know the vaccination status of the people around me. However, it is comfortable to take off the mask and spend time indoors with vaccinated friends and family. (If vaccinated friends and family have recently traveled or are spending time in bars or crowded clubs, swiftly before meeting outdoors or spending unmasked time indoors. Ask to use the home test.)
Dr. Robert M. Wachter, a professor and director of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, would summarize the risk of vaccinated delta mutants as follows: , High enough to be careful. “
Read more about breakthrough risks:
1 in 5,000
Here are some stories you don’t want to miss:
Remember 9/11: Kindness and the act of losing my shoes
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