This article reflects upon a story that Jiayang Fan, a staff writer for the New Yorker, shared during the first days of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. In spring 2020, Fan pleaded for help to the Twitter community: her mother, a 68-year-old who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), was trapped at the Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital in New York City, amid a COVID-19 outbreak. Even worse, her mother's aide, a Fujianese immigrant, had been forcibly evacuated by the hospital's police due to noncompliance with lockdown orders, and Fan knew that her mother couldn't survive without her. Using Eric Klinenberg's concept of the "social autopsy," this article explores the historical, social, structural, and political underpinnings of Fan's family's ordeal and argues that Fan's story underscores the harmful legacies of immigration measures and austerity politics unfolding in one of the world's wealthiest cities. Fan's turn to social media networks for help reflects a pattern of biological citizenship emerging in the COVID-19 era, which has mobilized the disabled, elder care, and racial justice communities in a time of pervasive insecurity.


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pp. 353-369
Launched on MUSE
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