With the pandemic rapidly shutting down New York City, on March 12, the Schweizer family decided Alison Schweizer and their 23-year old twins would decamp to their house in Cornwall, while her husband William Schweizer, who runs the OB-GYN department at NYU Langone Medical Center, would stay in the city for work. For Alison, who is immunosuppressed, Cornwall is a safe haven.

For six weeks, while his family was safely tucked away in Cornwall, William worked on the front lines in a state of emergency, delivering babies, etc. Because he could not be sure he was not infected with the coronavirus, William would not visit his family on his days off. So he stayed alone in the city. When NYU Langone offered diagnostic tests to asymptomatic employees, William tested negative and was finally able to come to Cornwall.

The Schweizers have always had a nice relationship with their Cornwall neighbors, fellow New Yorkers who had also retreated from the city. Since the start of the pandemic, they had been checking in with each other from time to time. On April 24, a neighborly text to Alison offering to pick up anything needed at the grocery store gave Alison a chance to share she was just about to go shopping herself with a mission, to prepare for William’s arrival and their family reunion.

During their family supper, the Schweizers heard some loud noises outside. It was 7 p.m.–the time when NYC celebrates its frontline workers with cheers. The Schweizers looked outside and saw their neighbors marching down their driveway, banging loudly on pots and pans and cheering–in appreciation of William and his colleagues who have been spending their days fighting on the front lines with so many other health care workers.

Jane Barnet


📸: Photo submitted of Alison and William Schweizer