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New Yorkers Have Message For Those Leaving, Saying City Is Dead: We'll Fix It And Then We'll Welcome You Back

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There have been reports about people fleeing New York City during the coronavirus pandemic, vowing never to return.

For some, they're leaving by choice. It was not a decision they were forced to make.

But, as CBS2's Alice Gainer reported Monday, there are many who staying put.

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By now, you've probably seen the opinion piece "New York City Is Dead Forever," written by a now former New Yorker who fled to Miami by choice, and comedian Jerry Seinfeld's counter argument, "It's Not."

It's got people talking.

"I just was getting so frustrated seeing all the posts of everyone escaping New York. As a small business owner, I felt that was really detrimental," said Courtney Ilarraza of Brooklyn.


Ilarraza, a lifelong Brooklynite, started a Facebook group "Staying Put In NYC" three days ago. It already has nearly 3,000 members.

"This group is full of people who are collaborating and coming up with grass root endeavors, all kinds of ways that we can build our city back," Ilarraza said.

"Big cities have ebbs and flows and trauma can happen in a city and it's really a matter of grappling with it," said Dr. Gail Saltz, an associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell Medical College.

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Saltz said after 9/11 quite a few of her patients talked about leaving New York City, herself included. But many didn't, since they feel like the energy, the streets, are all part of their identity.

"Every day that we're somewhere else looking out from our safe place, seeing New York City be OK, will be a sad day for us, so we're gonna stay," Saltz said.

People who live here will tell you the true beating heart of the city can't be found where Instagram-worthy pictures exist; it's in the neighborhoods.

"The diversity, the culture," one person said. "I think New York is very resilient and I think it will be back."

And the message for those calling the Big Apple lifeless?

"Make room for the new blood that wants to come in. You have hundreds of thousands of people dying to get to the city. It's the greatest place," said Keith Elrington of Brooklyn.

And, more specifically, the man who called it dead?

"He is going to be welcomed back when we rebuild it. The businesses will take his money," Ilarraza said.

Never dead. Maybe on life support. But now, showing promising signs of life.

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