A COVID-19 Day of Remembrance
March 14, 2020. New York City’s first known COVID-19 death was confirmed on this day. Since then, we’ve lost thousands of our beloved New Yorkers to this virus. They were our family, our friends, our frontline and essential workers, and – above all else – our fellow New Yorkers.
This year, March 14th, 2021 will be an official day of remembrance in our city. Join us online to honor those we have lost.
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Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said, "Nearly 50,000 New Yorkers across our state have lost their lives to this pandemic in the last year. It hasn't been a crisis only in our headlines, but in our homes. 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."
“In one year, COVID has killed tens of thousands of New Yorkers. These are moms, dads, daughters, cousins, uncles, best friends, co-workers and neighbors who we will always remember. Our city suffered so much in a short time, but we also witnessed the best of humanity by frontline workers who risked their lives daily to save others. The battle against COVID is far from over, but I’m confident that together we can help New York recover from this pandemic and come back even stronger,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
"On this day, we pause to remember the thousands of Bronxites and New Yorkers we lost due to this horrific virus. The New Yorkers we lost are more than just a statistic, each and every single one of them has a story," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "While we have seen some of the ugliest and darkest times during this pandemic, we have also seen tremendous fortitude, compassion and creativity in The Bronx. We must never forget the lives of loved ones taken from us too soon, but I am hopeful that brighter days are ahead and together we will build a stronger New York City.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, "One year since we solemnly recorded our city's first-known death from COVID-19, more than 30,000 New Yorkers have been lost to this horrific pandemic. This has been a year of incredible struggle and suffering for all of us, for loved ones unable to physically connect with each other, businesses that have shuttered their doors for the last time, and children who have endured painful isolation from their friends. We have also witnessed the courage of our frontline warriors, the volunteer spirit of our neighbors, and the sacrifices so many of us have had to make. As we look with optimism to the year ahead, let us remember those we’ve lost, give gratitude for all that we have and share a renewed commitment to emerge from this crisis with a recovery that lifts up every New Yorker.”
“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 our residents who succumbed to COVID-19 over the past year,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. “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 has had devastating physical, emotional and economic consequences for people in ‘The World’s Borough’ and across the globe.”
“Today marks a solemn occasion as we arrive at one full year living with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Representative Adriano Espaillat. “Everyone has been touched by this terrible disease, and it has drastically changed our lives as we look to move forward. This moment is a time for us to reflect, to remember those whose lives were lost, to honor the frontline workers and heroes who have helped us get through these difficult times, and to build toward the future. Despite tremendous loss, New Yorkers have shown incredible resilience over the last year – we have come together to support one another and we are working as a community toward healing and recovery. I promise to keep fighting for New York, the first epicenter of the pandemic in our nation, to ensure that we never forget those who were lost and that we support all those who were hurt by this pandemic. We have shown our resilience, and we will build back better as a community.”
“On the one-year anniversary of New York City’s first known COVID-19 death, we mourn for those whose lives were tragically taken from us and the hundreds of thousands who have been infected by the virus,” said Representative Grace Meng. “Over 30,000 New Yorkers succumbed to this terrible pandemic, and because of this virus, families have been unable to properly bury their loved ones. My heart breaks for those who were taken too soon, and the families whose lives will never be the same. We take this day to honor their memories and commit to building a more just and equitable society.”
“This Sunday, March 14th, will mark the one-year anniversary since the first confirmed COVID-19 death in New York City. Since that day, more than 30,000 New Yorkers have lost their lives to this terrible virus. These New Yorkers are more than statistics—they were best friends and high school sweethearts, coworkers and confidants, people who were there for us in the hardest of times and who we loved and trusted. While we must all remain distanced for a little while longer to defeat this pandemic, New Yorkers should have the chance to grieve those we lost and honor their memories, together,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler. “I’m grateful to the Mayor’s Office for establishing March 14th as an official day of remembrance and I encourage any New Yorker who lost someone important to them to participate in the City’s memorial event.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “The loss our communities have endured over the last year is staggering. On this solemn anniversary, we mourn with our neighbors in The Bronx and Queens, and all across this City. We grieve for the fathers, mothers, siblings, children and friends taken far too suddenly and far too soon. And, we renew our commitment to providing our families with the resources they need to begin to heal.”
“As we acknowledge the incalculable loss in New York City and across the country over the past year, we remember each person lost and the life they lived,” said Representative Ritchie Torres. “A year ago, no one could have imagined what we would live through, and now we are finally beginning to see the light on the other side. This collective grief and strife has brought us all together as New Yorkers and as Americans. We have witnessed unassailable courage from working families, essential workers, small businesses and millions of Americans who have struggled for far too long during the pandemic. We must continue to honor the lives lost and the sacrifices made, which is why I will fight every day for working families in the South Bronx and across the country.”
“In just one year, the lives of millions changed forever as the pandemic overtook our nation and struck a wound deep in the hearts of our people,” said Representative Nydia Velázquez. “The loss we’ve experienced is truly immeasurable. There is no way to count every goodbye that couldn’t be said in person, every promising life cut short, every missed wedding or birth of a child, or every irreplaceable memory that could have been made in the past year. Though we all have our own way of mourning, this grief may often seem insurmountable. My heart aches for every family currently enduring the loss of a loved one. This next year will not be easy. Even as we inch towards recovery, this loss will echo in our lives with each seat left empty at future family gatherings and every business shuttered for good. This commemorative day will pay tribute to the loving souls we lost this year, and help us keep their legacy ever enduring, even as we face an uncertain future ahead.
“Today marks the one-year anniversary of the first known COVID-19 death in New York City. We have lost more than 30,000 of our fellow New Yorkers this past year, which has been absolutely devastating for thousands of families, including my own,” said City Council Member Adrienne Adams. “On March 26, 2020, 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. 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 hair, 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.”
"In the words of President Biden, ‘to heal, we must remember.’ Our communities and families will never be the same. We will continue to mourn and we will continue to heal. Looking ahead to brighter days does not make the pain hurt any less, but we can share the burden as we do it together," said City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel.
“One year ago, today our city suffered its first death from COVID-19, and every day since then has brought new heartbreak,” said City Council Member Costa Constantinides. “Each loss of a parent, spouse, or dear friend has been compounded by the loss of our ability to grieve together and to find solace in our families and communities. Even now, as we can 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 for every New Yorker who suffered in solitude this past year.”
"It is important to acknowledge the historic aspect of the pandemic as we continue to battle the virus in the COVID-19 Day of Remembrance,” said City Council Member Darma Diaz. “We will always remember the lives lost, the families who lost loved ones, and the heroes on the frontlines who sacrificed their lives to provide care for the sick. On this day we will acknowledge what has happened, while also working to make our city fairer, safer, and stronger.”
"Today, March 14th, 2021, marks one year since the first death related to the novel coronavirus in New York City. This horrible disease has caused so much devastation to our city and the global community, and has fundamentally changed the way we live, work, and interact. This is a moment in our city’s history when we must pause and remember our loved ones who have perished because of COVID-19. May God bless the memories of all those we have lost during the COVID-19 pandemic," said City Council Member Mathieu Eugene.
“We must never forget the more than 30,000 New Yorkers our city has lost to this dreadful virus, in a crisis that will forever define this era of the Big Apple. They were our friends, parents, siblings, neighbors and co-workers, of every age, race and creed. 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," said City Council Member Robert F. Holden.
"One year ago, we faced a public health crisis that would challenge us in unprecedented ways. District 45 was among the hardest-hit communities. We lost loved ones that we longed to see, embrace, share laughs and experiences. As New Yorkers, we overcame the darkest period of this pandemic by relying upon each other’s courage and strength. We were inspired by our frontline and essential workers who risked their lives to save and serve others. Our road to recovery will be difficult, but we will prevail with friendship, love, greater access to mental health and supportive services. May our COVID-19 Day of Remembrance bring healing and newfound hope that we are nearing the end of a hard-fought battle to emerge victorious,” said City Council Member Farah N. Louis.
City Councilmember Alan Maisel said, “As we come together to honor the lives that we have lost this past year, we would be remiss if we did not stand with our fellow New Yorkers as they remember and grieve the loss of their loved one. COVID-19 has impacted each one of us, and whether the victim was a family member, colleague, mentor, friend, an essential or frontline worker, today, we stand with you. Our hope is that the days ahead are a bit brighter for all.”
"This remembrance is an opportunity to come together and honor our loved ones taken too soon by COVID-19. These were our mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, daughters, sons, friends, colleagues, and many who were on the frontlines saving lives, taking care of the vulnerable, and keeping our city moving. Let's celebrate these lives today and everyday remembering their love and contributions, and beating COVID for once and for all,” said City Council Member Francisco Moya.
City Council Member Keith Powers said, "A year ago our city fell into uncertainty. We’ve experienced immeasurable loss and suffering, as well as faced harsh realities with social, economic, and racial inequities. We owe a debt of gratitude to those on the frontlines of this crisis, our healthcare heroes, and all essential workers. Today, as we honor those we have lost -- thousands of New Yorkers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, loved ones -- we work to ensure history does not repeat itself. A year on, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The memory of those we lost drives us forward."
"To encapsulate the challenges of the past year in just a few words seems an insurmountable task, but on the occasion of this Day of Remembrance, we try. In an effort to honor all of our friends, family members and neighbors taken too soon by this grueling pandemic, we mark this, the day of New York's first loss, with reflection," said City Council Member Carlina Rivera. "Though we mourn, today and every year forward, we will honor the memory of the New Yorkers we have lost by celebrating the beautiful lives they lived."
“One year ago today, our world changed drastically as the very first known COVID-19 death was recorded in New York City. Since then, the City has lost over 30,000 residents to the virus,” said State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. “Today we remember and honor those lives that we lost and continue to support the loved ones they left behind. The best way we can honor all those that we have lost is to beat this virus, and with the vaccine continuing to rollout across New York City, we are getting closer to realizing our collective recovery and what our new normal will look like.”
"While there may never be a proper way to memorialize those we've lost to COVID-19, it is incumbent upon us all to personally commit to remembering the nearly 30,000 New Yorkers who are not with us today because of this virus. Life is precious and nothing in the world is more important than loved ones. My prayer is that 2021 brings us ample opportunity to appreciate and safely spend time with one another,” said State Senator Leroy Comrie.
“For the last year, our city and state have been devastated by the effects of the COVID-19 public health crisis. May the memories of the loved ones we’ve lost to this pandemic be a blessing, as their lives surely were,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “On this Day of Remembrance for New York City, we commemorate the thousands of New Yorkers who have died from COVID-19. With hope the worst is behind us, I look forward to the day we can safely assemble again to properly mourn the neighbors, friends, and family we’ve lost.”
State Senator Liz Krueger said, “Today we remember all those New Yorkers we have lost over the last year to this terrible pandemic, and we honor the grief of the family, friends, and loved ones left behind. We must allow ourselves the time to pause and reflect on the weight of our loss, even while we continue to work to save lives in the present and move forward to rebuild a brighter and more hopeful future.”
State Senator Zellnor Myrie said, "We've all lost something over the past year. A family member or a friend. A job. Precious memories and special moments. Perhaps the cruelest impact of this pandemic has been to prevent us from grieving and remembering our loved ones together. I hope today's memorial provides some solace, and that we can be together again soon.”
"It has been a tremendously difficult year for families and communities grieving loved ones lost to COVID-19", said State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. "In remembering our loved ones, may we find solace and hope while we enter the second year of this devastating pandemic. I am optimistic that our recovery is near.”
“As the epicenter of the epicenter of this pandemic, Queens has suffered unfathomable loss over this past year—grieving thousands of our family members and friends. In the face of this pain and many attempts to exploit our grief and suffering to divide us, our community came together, despite our differences, to take care of each other. It is through that spirit of community we honor the tens of thousands of lives taken from us as we lean on each other to recover and heal from this crisis,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos.
"This is indeed a sad and solemn day as we remember the New Yorkers who have passed away from the coronavirus. 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. COVID-19 has left a tremendous wound on our world. Queens has been the epicenter of this virus and District 10 experienced some of the highest COVID-19 death rates. 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 be 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,” said State Senator James Sanders Jr.
"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt by every New Yorker, especially by the friends and family of loved ones taken by this terrible disease. As we pay tribute to those who succumbed to the virus over the last year, it's important to remember that the best way to honor their lives is to remain vigilant and careful, to help prevent other New Yorkers from experiencing the same pain and loss,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.
"The coronavirus's global spread reached New York, and a devastating human toll like no other in our state’s history shocked us to the core. On March 14, 2020, New York City's first known COVID-19 death was confirmed, and since that date, we have lost thousands of our own to this virus. The northern part of my district has experienced the city's highest infection rates, where we lost family, friends, neighbors, and essential frontline workers. A year later, we mark the anniversary as a day for healing and reflection as we grapple with an evolving pandemic and the reality that we must continue to exercise caution in our drive to reach a sense of normalcy. The increased availability of vaccinations is the hope we need to move forward. Let us honor our lost ones with unity, love, and courage to get every one of us through the biggest challenge of our lifetime," said State Senator Robert Jackson.
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte said, "On this day of remembrance, we honor the thousands of New Yorkers who lost their lives to the coronavirus. The weight of our loss is enormous, but the strength and perseverance of New Yorkers will be remembered by generations to come. These essential workers — doctors and nurses, teachers, grocery store employees, transit and sanitation workers, construction laborers and more — are not only the heroes of our time, but among the greatest in our nation’s history. We will never forget.”
"It's been a difficult and painful year for all of us, but especially those who have lost loved ones," said Assembly Member Simcha Eichenstein. "Today, on this Day of Remembrance, we commemorate the memories of the thousands of precious lives we have lost to the worst pandemic in over a century.”
“One year ago, today, New York found itself at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were on the frontlines in a fight against a virus we knew nothing about,” said Michael Dowling, President and CEO of Northwell Health. “This virus took away our loved ones, disrupted our lives and forced us to deal with unthinkable circumstances. But, a year later, we now have hope. We have better treatments; we have vaccines. Since Northwell vaccinated Queens nurse Sandra Lindsay – the first person in the US to get the shot – last December, millions of New Yorkers have rolled up their sleeves. We are not at the end yet. But we are closer than ever to returning to a normal life again.”
“This past year, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, along with all of New York City, our community of hospitals, frontline healthcare workers, essential workers, and all residents came together to face head-on the worst public health crisis of our lifetime,” said Craig B. Thompson, MD, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Today we remember and honor the thousands of New Yorkers who lost their lives during this pandemic. They were our family members and friends, neighbors and colleagues, and our city is forever changed without them.”
"Today we remember and mourn the thousands of New Yorkers, our family and friends, who have been taken from us by the COVID-19 pandemic," said New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez. "We also express our deep gratitude for all of the frontline and essential workers who have risked their own safety and health to get us through the past year, and pledge to continue to ensure that all working people receive the protections and support they need even as we begin to emerge from this crisis."
Andrew Ansbro, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon some of the darkest days and toughest circumstances faced by New York City Firefighters in 20 years. Each and every day since this coronavirus pandemic hit home here in New York, NYC Firefighters have shown up to work, responded to fires and medical emergencies, and knowingly exposed themselves to the virus and the health risks that come with COVID-19. They brought the front line home to their innocent families and loved ones. It is equally astounding and heartbreaking to think of just how many among us have been lost over this past year - members of this department, family, friends, and loved ones, alike. We join together as New Yorkers in mourning, and join a grieving city in marking this solemn anniversary and remembering each and every person taken from us by this pandemic.”
“Workers have sustained the city during this catastrophic year, and workers have paid the biggest price,” said Barbara Bowen, President, PSC/CUNY. “It was working people who fed New York, healed New York, cleaned New York and taught New York throughout this terrifying year, and who buried New York’s 30,000 residents lost to COVID. It was Black and brown workers and their families who endured the greatest loss, as a result of the systemic racism the pandemic laid bare. The members of the PSC join your loved ones in mourning your loss today and recommitting ourselves to economic and racial justice.”
“New York City Correction Officers bravely served on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing essential services in the nation’s second-largest municipal jail system. Over 1,700 Correction Officers contracted this deadly disease and many of our active and retired members tragically lost their lives. Today, on behalf of our entire COBA family, we mourn their loss and honor their service and sacrifices to our city. We will never forget them,” said Benny Boscio Jr. , COBA President.
“Our city’s school leaders have experienced the tremendous burdens and joyous blessings of their communities every day, and never has that been truer and more impactful than throughout this past year. Today our union stands hand in hand with the families we serve to honor those we have lost since last March and to celebrate their extraordinary lives. Through them, let us recommit to our great city and its rebirth and recovery. In the last year, we have all known suffering and hardship in some way, but we have also seen the best of humanity as we cared for and supported each other. We will never forget this unimaginable year, and the lives sadly lost; may we always find strength, hope and compassion in their memory,” said Mark Cannizzaro, CSA President.
“While the Covid-19 pandemic was felt around the world, it also had a devastating effect close to home,” said Greg Floyd, President, Teamsters Local 237. “Teamsters Local 237 lost 93 of our members. They were mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters to their families. To us, they were our friends and co-workers. And, to everyone, they meant so much. They will never be forgotten. Remembering them makes us proud.”
Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37, said, “The brothers and sisters of District Council 37 put their lives on the line to deliver essential services. Far too many paid the ultimate price. They are our everyday heroes, and we honor their sacrifice now and always."
“The devastation of COVID-19 is unlike any we have seen in recent history,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU. “This virus shut down the world, and claimed the lives of so many. Today and every day we honor the brave women and men who have so unselfishly risked their own lives caring for others. They are real, living, breathing heroes and the debt of gratitude we owe them is immense.”
“As we mourn together for all those we have lost, we honor the memory of our fallen nurses who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Pat Kane, RN, Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association. “From the outset of this terrible scourge, our nurses reported to the frontline of New York's hospitals knowing they would be exposed to the coronavirus, knowing that exposure could be deadly and knowing that to return home to family might put them in jeopardy too. As a result of their courage and commitment, they helped save more than 150,000 New Yorkers-- and counting, their mission of protecting the public's health fulfilled.”
“I want to thank our Mayor Bill de Blasio for providing an opportunity for all of us to pause and reflect on the magnitude of suffering and the loss of human life that this insidious virus has caused. As our City and nation begins to return to the new normal our thoughts and prayers will always be with those we lost,” said Jake Lemonda, President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
“As we approach the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NYC Carpenters Union sends condolences and prayers to all who have lost loved ones. We are proud to have worked alongside our city’s essential workers over the last year to rebuild our great city,” said Martin Lydon, Director, NYC District Council of Carpenters.
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch, said, “Whenever our city is in crisis, whenever New Yorkers retreat from danger, New York City police officers step boldly forward and place themselves in harm’s way. This pandemic was no exception. Today, as we remember every precious life lost, we remember especially the nearly 50 NYPD members who gave their lives in service to their city. Their duty called, and they could not stay home.”
Gloria Middleton, President of CWA LOCAL 1180, said, “On this day of remembrance, CWA LOCAL 1180 honors those essential workers who literally gave their life to New Yorkers in the service of their duties during these unprecedented times.”
“One year ago few among us could have imagined the devastation that would be caused by COVID-19. We mourn for those we lost but take comfort in how New Yorkers came together to battle through our challenges,” said Harry Nespoli, Chair of the NYC Municipal Labor Committee and President of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, Local 831 IBT.
"Doctors Council SEIU represents frontline doctors and we know all too well the devastation that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the patients and communities of New York City, especially those in communities of color,” said Frank Proscia, M.D., President, Doctors Council SEIU. “As doctors we took care of too many patients who were infected with the Coronavirus and too many that passed away because of it. We saw our colleagues and coworkers die and become ill with the virus. But we also saw the heroic work of doctors and other patient care team members who stood together and fought COVID-19, essential workers all of who put their lives and livelihoods on the line for our patients and for our City. We were there for each other and for our patients as we held their hands through our gloves and looked into their eyes through our goggles and face shields. We were their family, their friends; we were and are New York. We can remember and honor those who passed away from the COVID-19 pandemic by together encouraging each other to wear masks and get vaccinated so fewer people become infected or die from this horrible disease. Together, doctors and all essential workers will bring New York City back while never forgetting those who died from COVID-19."
Joseph Russo, President of the Assistant Deputy Wardens/Deputy Wardens Association, said, “Life can be short and delicate. It can humble us at any time. Our sincere sympathy to all that have suffered and lost loved ones. We look forward to the day that we put this pandemic completely behind us.”
“One year ago, an unseen and unknown virus attacked New York City and the world. New York City would become an epicenter of the coronavirus. Once again, and without hesitation, the members of the New York City Police Department put their lives and the lives of the family members at risk by continuing to serve and protect the citizens of New York City. These men and women have earned and deserve the respect of all New Yorkers,” said Lt. Louis Turco, President, Lieutenants Benevolent Association.
“This past year has been filled with difficulties and struggles for all of us, so much so that even our faith has, at times, been shaken,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York. “As we come together to mourn those who have died, honor those frontline heroes who have served us so bravely, and recommit ourselves to helping those who are still struggling physically, emotionally, financially, and even spiritually, we do so remembering that God will always make good out of evil, and light out of darkness, as He continues to do even during these days of COVID.”
“I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for bringing New Yorkers together on this solemn day to reflect on the past year. Today, we remember those who have died, celebrate the heroes living among us, and recall how our own lives have been changed. May those who have died rest in peace, their loved ones comforted in their grief, and those now ill with the coronavirus healed. As more and more people are vaccinated against this dreadful virus each day, all New Yorkers are united in hope that this pandemic will soon end,” said The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.
"In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Yorkers witnessed the unimaginable: emergency rooms filling up with the sick and dying; a field hospital in Central Park; USNS Comfort making its way up the Hudson River; single congregations with as many as 44 fatalities; as well as empty supermarket shelves and silent streets,” said Dr. Rev. Chloe Breyer Executive Director, The Interfaith Center of New York. “Now, a year later — thanks to the heroic efforts of frontline workers and medical professionals. As New Yorkers of different faith traditions, we mourn our losses and strengthen our resolve to make our city a place of resilience, vibrancy, and human flourishing."
“COVID-19 may have taken away bodies, but not souls. It is these very souls of our heroes we dedicate ourselves to in this war against COVID-19,” said Rev. Dr. Phil Craig, Greater Springfield Community Church.
Rev. Dennis Dillon Publisher, The New York Christian Times, said, “Our city was treated harshly this past year, yet still we rise. We are learning the lessons and forgetting the details – remembering only the conviction, courage and commitment of those we lost, and celebrating the strength, courage and resilience of essential workers and those who serve."
“Let us never forget those whose life was cut short due to this deadly virus. Let us keep all the families affected in our daily prayers,” said Reverend Kevin McCall.
“One year ago, we could not imagine the collective grief and loss we would come to experience,” said Crystal Walthall Executive Director, Faith in New York. “From losing pillars in our families and communities, to our ways of life, this past year has touched us in unconceivable ways. While we hold space to grieve all that has been lost, may we also hold close the many ways our pain was met with compassion. May the legacy of our loved ones live on through us, and through the love and protection of one another.”
Rev. Dr. Robert M. Waterman , Pastor Antioch Baptist Church of Brooklyn, President of AACEO, said, “This past COVID-19 year has been marked with reflection and change. We’ve learned to work differently; and love more unconditionally. As we remember those we lost to COVID-19, let us take this opportunity to do something extraordinary: we can continue to move our communities with hope and faith, knowing that we have a higher power within us called love.”
“At this one year anniversary of a year that will be etched in our minds, hearts and our souls forever we remember those who have passed and we remember those who need comforting. We celebrate our victories and we mourn our losses,” said Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Director of The Center for Community Leadership at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. “We have fed those who are hungry and uplifted those brought low. We have stood firm in solidarity with one another. May the Creator of us all grant us the wisdom and strength to meet the challenges still ahead. “
“As we remember the lives lost to this terrible pandemic, we also extend our sincerest gratitude to all our heroes who have been in the front line to fight this pandemic. As we move forward, one thing reminds us clearly, that in every crisis there is a higher path; the path of compassion, courage, hope and strength. And New York City has proven to be stronger than the Covid 19,” said Imam Shamsi Ali- Director of Masjid Al-Mamoor, Jamaica Muslim Center.
“The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has been yet another great challenge for our community. Several of our members have been lost during this pandemic in addition to so many of our friends and family. But as a faith-based organization we know that surely after every calamity, trial or tribulation, God will surely bring ease to every heart that is hurting. For those of you who have managed to make it through this time, we know you can see that we as New Yorkers have come closer together by looking out for one another. Making sure that our neighbors are ok and not allowing our differences to remain as a wedge between us,” said Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam of Masjid At-Taqwa Brooklyn. “Through this hardship we have regained the true sense of what community is which has always been an immense strength of this beautiful city. This, we send our deepest condolences & prayers to our fellow faith-based communities, frontline workers, city government officials and everyday neighbors who have suffered from the many losses endured. If any one of you is in need, our line is open for you. Please know that you are always welcome with us.”
“Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has left our community with tremendous pain and loss. For Muslims of New York, it meant closing down our Mosques—our spiritual homes—and celebrating our holidays virtually for the sake of public safety. But more notably, New York City is resilient, and that resilience shined through unprecedented selfless efforts to protect our communities. Muslim organizations across the city worked tirelessly with their neighbors to combat food insecurity, get their communities tested, and fight COVID-19 on the front lines. We will never forget those who have passed on in this pandemic, and we should also never forget the strength in New York City's unity,” said Raja Abdulhaq, Executive Director of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.
“COVID-19 has reinforced what we have learned from our Lord reflected in His saying recorded in the Quran: 94:5. “Verily, along with every hardship is relief, Verily, along with every hardship is relief. So, whenever you are free from the difficulty, strive in devotion to your Lord, And to your Lord turn intentions and hopes,”” said Dr. Mika'il Abdullah Deveaux. Acting Imam of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc.
"This pandemic began one year ago today, and completely changed our lives,” said Pabitra Khati Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar. “Queens is the heart of the Nepali-speaking community in New York, and for the last few decades, our community has built lives, businesses, families and a home in the neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Woodside and beyond. On March 14, our beloved neighborhoods were hit as the epicenter of the epicenter. Many community members lost their lives due to COVID-19, and we continue to remember their loss today. Although we will rebuild as a City, we will never forget those we have lost.”
Stacy Bliagos, Executive Director, HANAC, Inc., said, "Today and every day we remember the lives lost to COVID-19. We honor their memory and continue to fight against the virus, ensuring all New York City residents get vaccinated so we can overcome this pandemic."
"As we reflect upon this unprecedented year, we hold a special place in our hearts for our youngest New Yorkers who have lost their lives as well as the children – disproportionately Black and Brown youth – who have lost parents, caregivers and family members and whose mental health has disparately suffered at the hands of the pandemic. We must center the needs of these vulnerable children in our recovery efforts, both now and in the future,” said Kimberley Chin, Acting Executive Director of the Children's Defense Fund-New York.
Wayne Ho, President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), said, “On behalf of the Board and staff of CPC, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to every New Yorker who has lost a loved one due to the pandemic. We have suffered an immeasurable collective loss. As we slowly begin the road to recovery, may the memories of those New Yorkers spur us to fight for universal health care, economic security, and a more equitable and just New York City.”
"Over the last year, our clients have struggled with the dual pandemics of both COVID-19 and HIV. In addition to these health threats, they have faced food, housing, and job insecurity. We honor the lives of all those who have been lost due to COVID-19 and are hopeful that the widespread availability of vaccines will allow us to turn the corner on this devastating disease," said Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
“LiveOn NY is proud to join Mayor de Blasio in remembering the thousands of lives lost to COVID-19. Today, we come together as a city to honor and mourn the family, friends and the loved ones whose lives were tragically cut short,” said Allison Nickerson, Executive Director of LiveOn NY. “We send both love and strength to all of the individuals who continue to grieve for those lost during this time and we share our heartfelt appreciation to all who painstakingly cared for our fellow New Yorkers throughout this tumultuous and trying year."
“Today, marks one year of this public health crisis that has impacted our most vulnerable New Yorkers at disproportionate rates—Make the Road New York has lost more than 90 community leaders to COVID-19. In the past year, we have worked to ensure we continue to support our communities by expanding our food pantry, creating an emergency fund, providing crucial services, and making sure people have access to COVID-19 testing and treatment," said Theo Oshiro, incoming Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “Yet, as we mark this difficult one-year anniversary, we must continue to prioritize and provide relief to communities still struggling to survive this pandemic.”
"Tragically, COVID 19 has stolen the valuable lives of almost 30,000 people in New York City and exposed the deep-rooted racism and longstanding exploitation of people of color. New Yorkers have responded to these twin pandemics with an extraordinary outpouring of love, tenacity, and resiliency as incredible neighbors and strangers have come together, collaborated and cooperated in support of each other and our community during this devastating pandemic. On this day and those to come, we will remember and grieve with every family for each and every loss.," said Ayo Harrington & Damaris Reyes, Co-Chairs of LES Ready!
"The magnitude of our collective loss is incomprehensible. We will be feeling the absence of far too many family members, dear friends, and beloved community leaders for years to come,” said Glennda Testone, Executive Director of NYC's LGBT Community Center. "Yet even as New York's LGBTQ community grieves with our city, we know that our future is still bright. We can all support our neighbors and provide an antidote to isolation. We can reshape the systems around us to better protect and provide for all New Yorkers. We will emerge from this crisis."
“So many families and friends here and around the world have lost someone to COVID-19, but today we celebrate you and will hold you in our hearts always,” said Mike Tucker, Founder of Lay the Guns Down.
"The Baruch College community joins with fellow New Yorkers to mark the somber anniversary of the City’s first death due to COVID-19. As we reflect on the previously unimaginable impact this pandemic has had on our city, the nation, and the world, we mourn all the lives lost and extend our condolences to all those who have suffered losses. With the vaccine distribution expanding and the City gradually coming back to life, Baruch College—standing with the legendary resilience of New Yorkers—is committed to re-invigorating a post–COVID New York City through economic, social, and cultural rebuilding," said Baruch College President S. David Wu.
"The Asian American Federation remembers all the family and friends who lost to the horrible pandemic, and will keep them in our hearts,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. “As we rebuild our city, we commit ourselves to honoring their sacrifices. We also recognize the trauma of our own community. We resolve to use this sad and confusing time, when Asian New Yorkers are targeted for violence on the racist notion that we are not Americans, to build stronger bonds with other communities and work to eradicate racism so that no New Yorker ever feels like an outsider again."
“Let us remember the mothers and fathers, the grandmothers and grandfathers, the uncles and aunts, the big brothers and big sisters who COVID took from our children and our communities too soon. Their love will forever remain in the hearts of those they left behind. Their ongoing inspiration will lead their loved ones and our City to persevere, to learn, to care for one another, to overcome.” said Alan Gerson, President of Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth.
“Realizing the gravity of the pandemic, we in New York City, masked up, social distanced and shut ourselves in. We listened to the science. Still this terrible disease found and took the lives of thousands of loved ones and neighbors,” said The Coalition of 26 Block Associations in CB3 Manhattan. “Our hearts go out to the families experiencing such deep and unbearable grief. As we begin to turn the tide and visit on stoops, park benches or walks, we must never forget those no longer with us.”
The New York City Mayor’s Office would like express deep gratitude to the hundreds of New Yorkers who shared photographs of loved ones they lost to COVID-19. Tonight, our City will shine a little bit brighter, lit with the faces of your beloved family members and friends. Although the pandemic continues to keep us apart, we hope this COVID-19 Day of Remembrance will help us all come together to mourn and celebrate our fellow New Yorkers.
Additional thanks to MISSING THEM, an open data journalism project that tells the stories of New Yorkers who have died due to COVID-19. MISSING THEM is led by The City newsroom and its partners, including: from Columbia Journalism School, Boston College, the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY and volunteers
Thank you to the following for their creative and operational contributions:
Brooklyn Bridge Photo Projection: Creative direction and video design by Brian Tovar, Jason Sherwood and Alex Basco Koch of Livesight.
Remembrance Video: &Roses
Production Support: iDEKO
Venues: Brooklyn Bridge Park and Empire Stores DUMBO
Our colleagues at the Department of Transportation, Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Economic Development Corporation and the New York City Police Department.
The City of New York also extends its appreciation to those who shared their stories and talents:
- Bishop Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Choir
- The New York Philharmonic
- Serena Yang, Northeast Regional Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador & NYC 2021 Youth Poet Laureate
- Christopher Grant, Brooklyn born Novelist and Voice Actor
- Carolina Juarez Hernandez and the family of Francisco Juarez-Garcia
Lastly, we thank the following buildings for lighting up the NYC skyline:
One Bryant Park
One Five One
One World Trade Center
1 New York Plaza
125 Broad Street
32 Old Slip
120 Wall Street
180 Maiden Lane
AC Hotel Downtown
175 Water Street
199 Water Street