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NYC marks anniversary of first COVID-19 death with memorial services



(NEW YORK) — On March 14, 2020, New York City recorded its first death from the coronavirus, and in one year, that toll skyrocketed to over 30,000 lives lost — more than 10 times the number of people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

On Sunday, New Yorkers of all walks of life marked this grim anniversary with several events to honor and memorialize their fallen neighbors on some of the city’s iconic locations.

Earlier in the afternoon, Lincoln Center premiered a music video featuring the Young People’s Chorus of New York City performing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel.

In the evening, candles were lit around the fountains and stayed on for 30 minutes, one minute for every thousand New Yorker deaths.

Later Sunday night, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted a memorial service that streamed live and included photos and videos of New Yorkers who died.

“Voices from across the city will join as one to stand in solidarity and demonstrate how we remain strong, hopeful and determined,” de Blasio said in a statement.

The New York Philharmonic played “Dectet” as black and white images of New Yorkers killed by the virus were projected onto the Brooklyn Bridge in a memorial service called “A COVID-19 Day of Remembrance.”

Bishop Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship choir performed and more images were projected as spiritual leaders gave remarks and prayed for the victims.

NYC 2021 Youth Poet Laureate Serena Yang recited an original poem that reflected on the deaths.

“A city that never sleeps is a city that never forgets,” she said.

Carolina Juarez Hernandez, of East Harlem, wiped away tears as she spoke about losing her father to the virus.

She and the rest of her close family members were also diagnosed with the virus last March, but her father became severely ill, was hospitalized and eventually died.

Hernandez said she was not allowed to give her father one last hug before he passed in April.

“To this day I cannot remember when I hugged him the last time,” she said.

Hernandez said that she and her family have been able to move on thanks to the support of her fellow New Yorkers and reassured people that they can get through the rest of the pandemic.

“I want anyone who has struggled to know you are never alone,” she said.

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