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I’m leaving NYC — to protect my children from its feckless leaders

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I’m leaving NYC — to protect my children from its feckless leaders

I am leaving New York City, the place where my husband and I both grew up and where we had planned to raise our own kids. The response to COVID-19 in New York, in particular where children are concerned, has driven our family out. 

Children have been an afterthought, at best, and have had their childhoods casually destroyed by our heavy-handed, and ultimately ineffective, response. I can no longer subject my own kids to it.

I loved this city so much. I could not picture a life elsewhere. I was New York’s biggest cheerleader. In 2016 I wrote in these pages that we’d never leave. “Why would we? We know we live in the greatest city in the history of the world. That’s right, in the history of the world. Who has it better than New Yorkers? We stay because we know that no other city has the energy and endless possibility that New York does. We’re open all night, all the time.”

Suddenly that energy was snuffed out. The pandemic hit New York early and hard. Still, I had so much faith we would recover. I imagined that my city would rise from the ashes like we did after 9/11, after the 2003 blackout, after Hurricane Sandy. We learned from those hard times to join together, to help each other. The days after those events were some of the most beautiful and inspiring. New Yorkers were there for each other. Our huge city was as tightknit as any small town.

This time was very different. The pandemic had us at each other’s throats. Neighbors reported each other for gatherings. People screamed at each other in the street for not wearing masks. It became religious and any questioning of the doctrine was forbidden. It was impossible to discuss whether containment measures were useful (Did we need to wipe down our groceries with Clorox? What were the three-sided Plexiglas booths helping, exactly?) because any discussion of easing up on any of it meant you wanted PEOPLE TO DIE. If you wanted schools to open, you wanted TEACHERS TO DIE. People became afraid to speak up. I saw it all the time.

When I announced our family was leaving New York and moving to Florida, a state with a governor who has led the way on sanely managing COVID-19, I received dozens of messages from New Yorkers considering the same move. When I asked several if I could quote them, they asked to use a fake name. They live in fear of being “canceled” for not being sufficiently terrified of COVID. Three vaccines and many new treatments do not seem to matter. We must live suspended in our fear indefinitely. 

After being NYC's biggest cheerleader, the pandemic snuffed out all the energy of the city and Karol Markowicz called it quits and left. NYC has seen a major shift from others as well.
Lifelong New Yorker Karol Markowicz is leaving the city due to damaging school COVID rules.
Taidgh Barron/NY Post

No one has it worse in New York than children. There is damage being done to the kids of this city, with masking and continued restrictions, and few in leadership seem to care at all. Masking is seen as a “low cost” safety option, but the idea that masking kids has no consequences is, of course, absurd. We’re already seeing studies about a decrease in cognitive abilities, in particular for “males and children in lower socioeconomic families.” 

I see it in my own children. My 6-year-old son, who has been masked for the entirety of his schooling, is shy and apt not to repeat himself when he is misunderstood. He also will not ask the teacher to repeat herself. It’s having predictable results in his education. 

It’s not that I decided one day to not “believe” in masks. We visited Iceland this summer and kids under 16 don’t have to mask there and never have. I have friends in Britain, Sweden, Holland. None of their under-12 children had worn masks at all through the entire pandemic. They don’t love their kids any less than parents in super-blue parts of the United States where masking is most intense. They do not worry less about their children becoming sickened with COVID. But they understood that in the short span of childhood, there are trade-offs. 

The medical professionals in their countries had weighed the data that masking has a minimal benefit for children, but would be detrimental to their education and well-being, and chose not to do it. I pushed for my state to make the same choice. 

Local and statewide hysteria had preschoolers wearing masks even though medical professionals debate on the effectiveness of masks on children.
New York had preschoolers wearing masks even though medical professionals debate the effectiveness of face coverings on children.
AP; Matthew McDermott

Instead, in September, at a time when our COVID case rate was at its lowest, Gov. Kathy Hochul forced the return to masking even for 2-year-olds in daycare settings. No other Western country is masking children this young. As the rest of the world moved toward sanity, blue cities like New York have jutted away.

Hyper-masking of the lowest-risk population is the canary in the coal mine for so many other issues, but it’s not just the masking driving us away. 

Now the Omicron strain is hitting New York hard. Cases are through the roof. There’s no argument to be made that any of our mitigation tactics worked. The masking of toddlers was pointless. People are still contracting COVID-19 and classrooms are still closing. New York City’s Public Advocate Jumaane Williams called closing schools a “​​no-brainer.” It’s always kids last. 

The treatment of children in New York since the very beginning of the pandemic has been abysmal. In the spring of 2020, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo stuck schools dead last in the plan to reopen New York. He then delayed his decision on summer camps so late that many could not open once they were granted permission.

New York parents have protested classroom masking to no avail.
New York parents have protested classroom masking to no avail.
Dan Herrick

School openings in New York City were delayed twice in the fall of 2020. When they finally opened, they were on a ridiculous hybrid schedule, which appears to have exacerbated cases. No sooner did this hobbled part-time model — which was celebrated by leadership across the city as some sort of win for kids while children in much of America and the world just attended schools on a regular schedule — start than they shut down again when NYC hit a 3 percent positive testing rate in November. Everything else remained open. Only children bore the burden of a shutdown.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced vaccine mandates in October, and kids under 11 were not eligible for vaccines yet, he failed to exempt them until media pointed out his error. It was as if kids in the city simply didn’t exist. 

Now the great majority of NYC kids are shut out of indoor dining, museums, theater and much else because the vaccine mandate has been extended to young kids, the demographic least likely to have a poor COVID outcome. Kids from other countries, few of which even have an approved vaccine for those under 11 years old, are not welcome in our anti-children city.

None of it makes any sense and yet we keep subjecting our kids to it.

Markowicz, her husband and three kids (above) are moving out.
Karol Markowicz, her husband and three kids are headed to Florida.
Provided by Karol Markowicz

Until the recent cold weather, my kids had been eating on the ground outdoors in their respective schoolyards. When they finally moved the kids inside, my sixth-grader reported that the kids were forbidden from speaking to each other or sitting with their friends. Who else is living like this? Who else eats in silence? The best part was when the school vice principal visited the cafeteria and saw the kids chatting, she yelled at them — but not before pulling down her mask so she could be better understood, of course. 

We haven’t thought twice about imposing these crazy provisions on our children, who, again, are the lowest-risk population for a poor COVID outcome. If anyone, it should be 80-year-olds sitting on the ground outside and eating in silence with their friends, not 8-year-olds. A report by Public Health England in September found that unvaccinated kids are at lower risk of death than vaccinated adults of any age. But 80-year-olds are free to gallivant around the city living their best lives despite being at the highest risk for COVID deaths.

We see concerts full of people, packed restaurants and, ahem, strip clubs all operating like normal. But our kids are treated like lepers who must be contained. 

In Florida, Markowicz and her children are treated equally, without government interference.
Markowicz chose Florida in part because Gov. Ron DeSantis has led the way on sanely managing COVID protocols.
Provided by Karol Markowicz

We also see our politicians, de Blasio, Hochul, living entirely routine lives while warning the rest of us not to. In one picture, Hochul and some other adults were photographed maskless inside a school while the small children in the picture were forced to mask. It’s sick. But it also betrays what we all know: Many of these measures are just for show. Hochul goes maskless because she isn’t worried about getting COVID, no matter what she says. 

It’s telling that we don’t see high-profile people on the left announcing their departures from red states without vaccine or mask mandates. If lives are actually on the line, we should see an exodus of people from states like Florida or Texas. Instead we are seeing influxes of people from states with tight restrictions to states with looser ones. 

States with high pandemic restrictions, like New York, is seeing a mass exodus to more lenient states.
States with ongoing pandemic restrictions, like New York, are seeing a mass exodus to more lenient states.
Matthew McDermott

It feels like we’re in the grip of mania and there’s no way out. I have fought for the children of this city the entire length of the pandemic. I fought for every child who did not have parents at home working from their laptops, every child with a disability who was not getting the help they needed over Zoom. I fought for all the children who would never regain what they had lost while their city stepped over them, trying to ignore their existence. 

But now I have to think of my own children and get them to sanity. We can no longer wait for our city to return to it. 

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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