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July 14, 2020, 1:11 p.m. EDT

Going down to zero, the New York way

The city’s not-so-secret plan: Just do it!

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By Ellis Henican

Getty Images
Pedestrians wear protective masks July 13 as New York City moves into Phase 3 of reopening. For the first time in months, there were no COVID-19 deaths in a 24-hour period in the city.

Welcome to New York, America’s Good-Behavior City.

While Florida sets infection records, while California locks down again, while Texas backpedals on Botox sessions and shutters the saloons, New Yorkers find themselves in a place they haven’t often been before: taking bows for their tidy behavior.

Mayor Bill de Blasio sounded somewhere between giddy and incredulous when he declared on Monday: “For the first time in months, we have a 24-hour period where no one in this city died from the coronavirus.”

No one.

In a city that not so long ago was America’s undisputed COVID death capital, where the five-borough fatality count peaked in April at 800 a day . From there to zero.

“Let’s have many more days like that,” the mayor was quick to add.

“Do what I do, wear a mask.”

Amazon delivery man Manuel Acevedo

No one really expects the perfect zero to hold. In fact, it already hasn’t. There are still thousands of coronavirus patients in the city’s public and private hospitals, many of them aged and otherwise infirm. They won’t all make it. But it’s still a remarkable turnaround at a time when America desperately needs some good pandemic news and other parts of the country, in the south and west especially, are struggling to spark their own life-or-death reversals.

So how did New Yorkers do it? Don’t ask me. Ask them.

“Do what I do,” Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -1.78%   delivery man Manuel Acevedo said through his cotton face mask. “Wear a mask.”

“Stay inside as much as you possibly can,” said 73-year-old Robin Kantor. “The drugstore. The supermarket. That’s enough. Where else do you need to go?”

“Wash your hands a lot,” said 4-year-old Aisha Hassan.

“Yes, exactly,” her mother, Afrah Hassan, agreed.

Really, it’s all so obvious. It’s all the things the public-health experts have been saying for months now. Over and over again. You just have to do them.

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