Queens leaders honor lives lost to COVID-19 during citywide remembrance event

Images of some of the thousands lost during the COVID-19 pandemic were projected on the Brooklyn Bridge on the one-year anniversary of the first recorded death in the five boroughs. (Photo courtesy of the mayor’s office)

Nearly a third of the city’s 30,000 lives lost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic were from Queens, and Sunday’s poignant remembrance in which images of many of the victims were projected on the Brooklyn Bridge offered a moment for the borough’s leaders to reflect on those lost so far.

“As the community that was once the ‘epicenter of the epicenter’ of the COVID-19 pandemic, Queens mourns the untimely loss of the thousands of residents who succumbed to COVID-19 over the past year,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. We miss our friends and neighbors deeply. In their memory, let us never forget the sacrifices of the health care workers and first responders who have given so much of themselves to help others during this pandemic. Let us also do whatever we can to prevent a repeat of this crisis, which had devastating physical, emotional and economic consequences for people in the ‘World’s Borough’ and across the globe.”

More than 9,000 Queens residents perished during the first year of the pandemic, according to state data.

“My father was hospitalized for symptoms of what we thought was congestive heart failure, but was actually the coronavirus masquerading as his ongoing health condition,” Councilwoman Adrienne Adams said. “Little did I know that would be the last time I would look into his beautiful eyes. After almost two months of not being able to see him, hold his hand or stroke his hairs, we lost our beloved dad when he passed away on May 22 at Long Island Jewish Hospital. This remembrance means so much to my family and me, much like it does for everyone who lost a loved one due to COVID-19. During this citywide day of remembrance, we honor the memory of the more than 30,000 lives we lost to this deadly virus, including my father. They will never be forgotten.”

Councilman Costa Constantinides tested positive last April and was hospitalized three times, while his wife Lori spent 12 days in the hospital with COVID-19.

“Each loss of a parent, spouse or dear friend has been compounded by the loss of our ability to grieve together and find solace in our families and communities,” Constantinides said. “Even now, as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even as vaccinated families are able to come together as one again, we will grieve for the empty chairs and the spaces last filled by those we’ve lost. Let us take this day to share our prayers and remembrances forever New Yorker who suffered in solitude this year.”

Councilman Francisco Moya, who grew up in and represents Corona, which was ravaged by the virus, said the remembrance was an opportunity to honor loved ones that were taken too soon.

“These were our mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, daughters, sons, friends, colleagues and many who were on the front lines saving lives, taking care of the vulnerable and keeping our city moving,” Moya said. “Let’s celebrate these lives today and everyday remembering their love and contributions, and beating COVID-19 once and for all.”

Southeast Queens has been greatly impacted by the virus with a disproportionately high death rate and limited access to the COVID-19 vaccinations.

“How many of us have an empty seat at our kitchen table or beside us in the car, constant reminders of loved ones that are missing and cannot be replaced,” state Senator James Sanders said. “COVID-19 has left a tremendous wound on our world. People who I had seen working in the community every day, making the district a better place, lending a helping hand, were gone all of a sudden. There were funerals and memorials to attend, condolence letters to write and tears to shed, all as the result of a disease that struck without warning. Although I have great sadness, I also have great hope that we can save lives moving forward and eventually beat this disease, but we must always keep alive the memories of those we’ve lost.”

Councilman Robert Holden, whose 96-year-old mother Anne tested positive for COVID-19 in her nursing home, said New Yorkers should never forget the 30,000 that perished during the crisis.

“They were our friends, parents, siblings, neighbors and co-workers, of every age, race and creed,” Holden said. “The memories of those we lost can inspire us and remind us, amid the hustle and bustle of a reborn New York City, that every moment is precious and that we must all work together as we rebuild.”


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