Sunday, March 14 marks one year since New York City’ first COVID-19. Since then, more than 30,000 people have died from the virus and there have been over 385,000 confirmed cases in the city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and New Yorkers from across the city honored the more than 30,000 city residents who’ve died during the pandemic during a virtual memorial ceremony. The ceremony took place outside in Brooklyn.
Faith leaders including Imam Abdul Azeez and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Northeast Regional Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador and NYC 2021 Youth Poet Laureate Serena Yang gave remarks. The ceremony also included a musical performance by Bishop Hezekiah Walker and The Love Fellowship Choir.
“As New Yorkers mark a painful year since the COVID-19 crisis began, let us take some time to grieve together and honor the nearly 30,000 lives lost to the virus,” said McCray. “Many who sacrificed their lives to save others were healthcare heroes and frontline workers. We are not alone as we embrace the memories they have left behind. We mourn together, even as we work together for the brighter days ahead.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams noted that 50,000 people across New York State have died from COVID-19 and that a memorial was fitting.
“A human tragedy with personal impact and individual stakes for ourselves and our families––the loss of lives and livelihoods. Each of us is united in our isolation by common grief and collective trauma. And in that unity, for me, there is some comfort. I hope we can share in that solace as we move through this recovery. Recovery means remembering.”
As the city mourns those who have died from COVID-19 officials are advising residents to look for the months ahead. As the vaccine continues to roll out, federal officials, including President Joe Biden, believe that things could get back to some type of normality by the Fourth of July.
The president stated during a primetime televised speech that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for every adult by May 1.
“Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1,” Biden said, “Every adult will be eligible to get their shot. And to do this, we’re going to go from a million shots a day that I promised in December before I was sworn in, to maintaining, beating our current pace of 2 million shots a day, outpacing the rest of the world.”
As 10 new vaccination sites open across the state this week, eligibility for the vaccine has been expanded. Public-facing government, nonprofit workers, building service workers and public employees are now eligible.
De Blasio said that he has a goal to make all New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine by June. He says the city is on track to get over 5 million people vaccinated by that time, however, there is still a need for more vaccine supply for the city. De Blasio blames Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the holdup and wants the city to be able to control vaccinations.
The mayor announced this week that over 3 million people in the city have been vaccinated.
“We’re not getting our fair share of vaccine, even though we’re vaccinating so many people from the suburbs, even from Connecticut, New Jersey,” De Blasio said. “We should be getting more vaccine from the state. In so many ways, we’re just not getting a response. That’s why we need local control so we can move this effort forward.”
State officials say more than 4.5 million New Yorkers have received at least one COVID vaccine dose. Over 134,000 doses were administered across the state during a 24-hour period this week Cuomo said due to limited supply, people are encouraged to remain patient and are advised not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment.
“Our providers across the state are continuing to work day and night to reach all those New Yorkers who are presently eligible for the vaccine,” Cuomo said. “We still have a long way to go. Vaccine skepticism and barriers in making appointments and then getting to the site continue to impede many New Yorkers from getting vaccinated, and that is why we are persistent in our outreach.”