KEY POINTS

  • The Empire State Building has been decked in white and red lights to support frontline health workers
  • It had the opposite effect on New Yorkers, who found the display jarring
  • They argued that the Empire State should just be decked in white, as it always had been

New Yorkers were greeted by a puzzling sight on Monday as the Empire State Building changed its light display to honor the frontline emergency workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The red and white display had the opposite effect as people were spooked instead of inspired.

The Midtown icon announced the debut of the display, which represented the “heartbeat of America” as well as the sirens of an ambulance. The building management announced this information through its Twitter account and said that it is doing this for the health workers. Fox News reported that it began displaying these light symbols at 9 PM and will continue through the course of the coronavirus outbreak.

Some of the residents did not take to the display, especially when the lights started swirling around like a siren. It was surrounded by low clouds and the resulting display was macabre. Some users have recommended that the siren be replaced with a literal heartbeat, or that the building maintain its signature white light as a “symbol of New York”.

New York could use all the support as hospitals are in for serious times. According to NBC NY, the situation could escalate; hospitals may soon have to decide who will and who won’t get treatment. Currently, additional beds are being prepared in field hospitals currently being constructed in Central Park. Such beds have also been made available at USNS Comfort, Javits Center, and other “pop-up” medical centers.

During a speech made at the Javits Center on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said that New York has been preparing for such an event as this. They said that these guidelines were made to make sure that there are a lot of lives that can be saved. However, with resources running thin, the governor implored for “more”—supplies, healthcare professionals, and capacity are top priority.

As people put it, the Empire State Building needs to look nice and soothing and not panicky. However, with things the way they are, that may be a long shot.

Empire State Building The general view of the Empire State Building and midtown Manhattan are seen at dusk in New York, Jan. 28, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid