NYC 2019 Versus NYC April 2020….Covid

I have been thinking about the changes in New York City in this past year.  Will it ever be the same again? Last year, Thanksgiving 2019, Tina and Ed took the kids to New York City for the first time.  Austin’s birthday was on Dec 1, and he had wanted to see the Lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and the Macy Day Parade. 

Streets are full of Traffic and sidewalks full of people…
The Official Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center.  It was lit up the following weekend after they left.

NYC was alive and brilliant with lit up marquis, Christmas lights galore, and lots of people.  The Marquis lights were so full of colors, and flashing the Broadway and TV shows all the way up and down the blocks as far as you could see.  The skyscrapers were towering high above with some of their office lights still on.  The tall beautiful 77 ft Norway Spruce, from Orange County Florida was placed at Rockefeller Center to be the official Christmas tree for the season.  It was 46 ft in diameter and weighed 14 tons.  Christmas lights and displays were everywhere.  The sidewalks were full of bustling busy people with their winter coats and hats, and the streets were full of vehicles including carriages giving tourists rides and policemen directing traffic. They signed up to ice skate at Rockefeller Center, and had to wait till 10PM for a time slot.  They had so much fun.  If you listen, you can almost hear all the noise in the background, the music, car horns, whistles, sirens and all the people laughing and talking. 

Rockefeller Center Skating Rink
Ed and Austin skating in Rockefeller Plaza with the Tree in the Background. 
Austin loves the Pokémon
Macy’s Day Parade….2019

The kids stayed at Crown Plaza on Times Square in Manhattan

Little did anyone know what was about to happen in several months………..

View from Tammy’s’ hotel window at the Marriot Marquis on Times Square in Manhattan

About 5 months later Tammy arrived.  She stayed at the Marriot Marquis also on Times Square in Manhattan, only about a block from where Tina and the kids stayed.   When she arrived the city was shutdown.  Governor Cuomo declared Shelter in Place, and all business closed.  The city that never slept at night grew silent……No traffic, no people on the street, No car noises, no tourists.  The marquis were lite up, but they displayed messages,  ‘Thank You To Our Frontline Nurses”   “Thank You to Our First Responders”.  Tammy had answered the call for RNs to work in NYC.  What a contrast it was from 5 months ago when Tina and the family was their……

Standing in the middle of the street….No people….No traffic

She was assigned to a Bronx Hospital.  The city was reeling in panic.  Covid-19 was infecting people by the thousands.  Many business’s let their employees work from home, otherwise, you simply did not work.  Just think of all the business who employed workers to service and sell to customers.  No work? ….No Money?….You still get bills…..Many business’s closed permanently and people lost jobs.  We all watched NYC from all over the USA.  The virus was starting to travel across the US, but  we never thought it would come to our home town too. 

When Tina, Ed and the kids were in NYC, The Corona Virus was just beginning overseas, but on its way to America.  In just a very few months it would take over NYC bring it to its knees and screeching to a halt.  NYC would fill its hospitals up to over capacity, and the morgues would be full of bodies, with refrigerated trailers rented or purchased to help hold the overflow………The Year of 2020 will be born with the Beginning of the Coronavirus taking over the world.   It almost seems like a bad sci-fi movie…..but its todays reality.

Tammy and her friends from Illinois on the streets of NYC
New York City Honoring the Front Line Workers

The first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in NYC in March of 2020.  They said it had probably already been their for awhile.  23,000 were confirmed by March 27.  2 days later on March 29 it had risen to 30,765……Wow, those numbers are mind boggling…..Tammy was hired by Krucial Staffing Agency, _{Emergency Agency} on their 2nd wave of hiring.  She arrived and started working on her birthday April 6.  By that time they had over 2,000 deaths.  NYC had become the worst affected area in the country.  The dead were dying to fast for the funeral homes to take care of them.  Some homes bought or leased refrigerator units.  Even the Crematoriums were booked and couldn’t keep up.  They began burying bodies in mass at Hart Island……Potters Field, for the poor.  Today, New Years Eve, their is 430,597 confirmed cases in the city for a total.  Todays daily count is 4,207.  They have had a total of 25,042 deaths with 41 for their daily count.  New York have brought the counts way down and had started opening the city in the summer, but the counts are on the rise again. 

The virus is on the rise again all over the country and the world.  California is suffering terribly.  Their hospitals are overfull.  They have nowhere to put new patients.  They are running over 30,000 new cases a day.  Illinois was bad for awhile.  Governor Pritzker shut down much of the state.  It is now declining.  As of today Illinois has a total of 963,389.  the daily count is 7,374.  Texas has been bad up north, but its heading down south  again.  Todays totals are 1,766,410 with a daily counts averaging around 15,000.  We are hearing reports that our local hospitals are filling up, and their is a medical staff shortage.  Down her in the RGV our first wave was this summer. The hospitals were so backed up, they set up emergency units for the overflow.  Now Texas is starting to heat up again.  Many areas are now having their 2nd wave.  We are told to expect a new wave because of the holidays.  People really have a hard time respecting Social Distancing.  Masks are a must.  It’s been a tuff year.  Everyone is tired of Social Distancing.  They are getting together for all the holidays.  That can spell disaster.  We also have those people who don’t believe.  They think the government is infringing on their rights.  They want the freedom to make their own decisions on mask wearing.  Also, many say,…. “It will go away when the election is over”……Come on, Really?….How does the election affect the people dying, and those filing up the beds fighting for their lives on ventilators. 

Now we have 2 vaccines finally available with a 3rd one almost ready to be approved.  They are rushing to have it dispensed all over the country.  This is a huge feat which is already having problems.  Hopefully this is the answer.  All we need is time.  But is everyone taking the vaccine?  I am not….I’m a bit skeptical because it’s new.  Even though they say it’s not been rushed, I still feel it has.  Of course I don’t take any shots, flu shot neither.  So that is my choice. 

So Here it is, the end of 2020, and the beginning of 2021.  Everyone is hoping for a better year.  The virus is still running rampant all over the world.  We are just now hearing of a new Coronavirus Variant entering the states. 2 vaccines have been approved and being rushed around the country to be dispensed. So many people have lost their jobs. We have weekly food lines for family’s who can’t feed their families. People are being evicted from their homes because they can’t pay rent. We wear face masks every time we go somewhere. We practice Social Distancing, no matter what we do. Even the check out lines in the stores. Our White House is in shambles. The leadership and dissention between the party’s and the president are not only embarrassing but devastating to our country. Can we put everything aside when the new President comes into office this month? This is what we must do as a country……UNITE…..AND HEAL…..Their is so much for the New president to do. The people are reeling and suffering from this Coronavirus tragedy. They need some compassion and help. The small business’s have been destroyed. The Economy has ruined so many people’s lives. We need Unity and a plan. A plan for a new beginning. Hope for the people to begin to live once again. Let’s hope we get through these next several months, and 2021 is the start of our NEW BEGINNING….

Hart Island…. NYC Potters Field….Coronavirus

March 14, 2020 was the first recorded death in the Coronavirus Pandemic in New York. Since then, which is less than 2 months, they have recorded over 20,000 deaths. The daily death count had spiked in early April to over 800 a day. Now it has lowered to an average of 260 a day. In 2017 the average deaths in NYC were 149. Daily hospitalizations went from 3,181 in April down to around 600 a day, much better but still too many. So many people flooding the hospitals. So many people dying. Where Do they put them all. The funerals homes were called. They were at capacity. They rented reefer trailers to keep the bodies in. Fema deployed 85 reefer trailers to the city. Many hospitals had reefer units in their parking lots. An embalmed body will last at least 2 weeks without decomposing. A refrigerated body, a couple of months. But generally in the normal world, that never happens. A body is usually buried or cremated with in 3 days. But now family’s were becoming desperate. They only had a 2 week window to take care of their family member. How could they take care of the overload…..The Crematoriums were overloaded also. Their are only 4 in the City, 2 in Queens, 1 in The Bronx, and 1 in Brooklyn. They can only process 20 a day. The government gave them permission to process the bodies 24 hours of the day, but still that doesn’t even begin to take care of them all.

The other problem was many of the dead were not claimed. Because of the virus, once you entered the hospital, nobody was allowed to visit. Many died alone without the family or had no idea their loved one died. Many HAD NO family. The families had 2 weeks to claim the bodies before something had to be done. So what was the answer….

…….HART ISLAND…….Potters Field Cemetery …..

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Hart Island is about 1 mile long by .33 wide. It is located on the western edge of Long Island Sound, and north east of The Bronx. New York City actually contains 36-42 islands. We know some of them, Manhattan Island, Staten Island, and Long Island are the big ones. The others we know are Coney Island, Ellis Island, Rikers Island. Of course we all know Rikers, from Law and Order….It is the home of NYC’s Jail Complex. Hart Island is the burial grounds for over one million people. These are people not claimed by their relatives and the poor and homeless. Some people choose to be buried their because of the cost. Also the people who died of diseases that needed a mass burial site. Many children and stillborn are buried their, as well as dismembered body parts.

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In 1864, the first public use for the island was the training ground for the US Colored Troops. Since then it was used for many things. Union Civil War Prison Camp, Jail, Homeless shelter, Boys Reformatory, Drug Rehabilitation Center, Psychiatric Institution, Tuberculosis’s Sanatorium, and a Potters Field for mass burials. The buildings were abandoned in 1977 and then became the city’s Potters field, run by the NYC Dept. of Corrections. In the fall of 2019 it was transferred to NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation. The Island is isolated from the rest of the city, with no electricity and is only accessible by Ferry Boat from City Island. Burials are performed by the Inmates of Rikers.

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As many of us seen on TV, Hart Island became the temporary burial place of the Coronavirus Pandemic, when the Funeral Homes capacity was overwhelmed and body’s were unclaimed. These burials began in late March of 2020. In April the DOC inmates were replaced with hired private contractors to do the mass burials. The trenches were dug, and burials began as drones hovered over and took pictures. Adults are placed in pine boxes according to size and are stacked in sections of 150, measuring three coffins deep in two rows. Theirs seven sizes of coffins ranging from 1-7 feet long. Each box is labeled with and ID number, the persons age, ethnicity, and the place where the body was found or picked up. The numbers of burials increased from 25 a week to 120. They increased the burials from one day to five days a week.

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The city is hoping that after the Pandemic calms down that families will want to claim their relative. They can be disinterred with the city picking up the costs. The reburial will be the cost for the family to pay. Their is lots of paperwork to file, then the Funeral Home has to come to pick up the body for the new burial. So their fore many will probably leave their loved one on Hart Island because of the cost.

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Hart Island is a seven minute Ferry ride from City Island. It was closed off to the public till 2012. Now families or individuals can request permission to come and visit a grave. You may be escorted to the white painted concrete markers at each plot, or at a gazebo looking out at the field. They say it may all change next year (2021) when the City Parks take’s over management from the Dept of Corrections.

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The Island is a very Peaceful place. The buildings are crumbling from the past. Some are torn down as they need more burial ground. It is full of wildlife and is a bird sanctuary. Maybe when the Parks Dept takes over they will make it a peaceful, beautiful island to visit and feel the spirt of the million people who are buried underneath. It is a very spiritual place. We need to remember these people all had a place in life at one time. They were children, with moms and dads, they all grew up to have a space in life…..A purpose to live…..Many were productive citizens…..And then they passed…..and were forgotten in a Mass Burial on Hart Island…..

Their is so much to read about this island. Its past, the people who are buried. A few had been famous in their younger years and became penniless. The different chapters of this island when the buildings were in use. It is worth the time to search out the history of Hart Island, as well as many of the other 42 islands located in NYC.

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The City Of New York…..Potters Field

Blessed are the poor in spirit……For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven

My Child.….Peace I leave to you….My peace I give to you

The Almighty….Has his own purposes

He must have loved them…He made so many of them

Cry not for us….For we are with the father

No longer do we cast shadows on the ground as you do

We are at peace