By Michael Gold
On Sunday, the one-year anniversary of New York City’s first reported coronavirus-related death, the city will hold a virtual memorial event honoring New Yorkers who have died of the virus.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 30,000 people are known to have died in New York City in connection with the virus.
“We’re going to mark Sunday with a sense of respect and love for the families who have lost loved ones in this crisis,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Monday. “We’re going to remember the people we’ve lost.”
The memorial, which will be streamed online on the city’s website and on social media platforms at 7:45 p.m., will feature the names and photographs of some of the victims.
The city’s first confirmed virus-related death was announced last March 14. The victim was an 82-year-old woman with emphysema who had been hospitalized in Brooklyn. One of the first people in the state to test positive for the virus, she had been hospitalized on March 3, as the number of cases of the virus began to climb.
Though unclear at the time, the woman’s death marked a turning point of sorts for the city. The day after officials confirmed it, Mr. de Blasio announced plans to close the city’s public schools, bars and restaurants.
Days after Mr. de Blasio's announcement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced sweeping shutdown orders for businesses across the state. At the time, the city had about 5,600 confirmed cases of the virus, though with testing limited, public health officials thought the true number of infections was likely higher. Researchers later said that the virus was likely spreading in the city earlier than residents initially realized, leading to a further undercount.
In the weeks that followed, the pandemic became widespread, upending daily life as the city became an epicenter of the nation’s outbreak. Hospitals filled up and quickly became overwhelmed. As the number of fatalities rose, hospital morgues, funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories were overflowing with bodies and quickly became backed up.
Even as the virus’s march has slowed somewhat, the city’s total death toll alone remains higher than all but four U.S. states. Over the last seven days, the city has reported 102 daily virus-related deaths, according to a New York Times database.
Across New York State, nearly 48,000 people have died of causes related to the virus, the second-highest total death toll of any state in the nation.
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