420,000 of New York's Wealthiest Citizens Reportedly Fled City Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Nearly a half-million people have left New York City due to coronavirus. As The New York Times reported on Friday, most of those who fled live in the city's wealthiest areas.

The 5 percent of residents, which totals about 420,000 people, left the city starting March 1, which continued through May 1. The city, which had been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, saw its biggest vacancies are happening in neighborhoods like the Upper East Side, the West Village, SoHo and Brooklyn Heights, which saw their populations go down by 40 percent or more. The rest of the city didn't have any substantial decreases.

However, some of these areas are often home to students, so some of the decrease can be attributed to the closing of colleges and universities, while it's speculated that others may have left to care for friends or family members across the country. Although the overall pattern is clear, the more money residents had, the more likely they'd be to leave the city limits.

The estimates come from Descarte Labs, which used anonymized smartphone location data from a sample of 140,000 New York City residents. That sample was based on where these people lived in a two-week period in February. Their movements were then tracked as the pandemic hit including whether or not they'd left the city. Their sample set included residents from almost every populated census tract in the city.

New York University professor Kim Phillips-Fein, spoke to the outlet about the implications of situations like these, particularly in regards to how others in the city have been handling the outbreak. "There is a way that these crises fall with a different weight on people based on social class,” Phillips-Fein said. "Even though there's a strong rhetoric of 'We're all in it together,' that’s not really the case."

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On Monday, Attorney Lawrence Garbuz, who was described as the city's "patient zero," spoke to TODAY about his ordeal, and admitting he has no idea how he contracted COVID-19. "I just thought it was a cough," Garbuz said. "A winter cough, and quite frankly, I'm not certain that any of the sort of medical staff had been thinking about that initially when they examined me."

"I'm a lawyer," he added. "I sit at a desk all day. I think at the time we were sort of focusing on individuals who had maybe traveled internationally, something that I had not done."