By Emma Landsburgh
As New York becomes America’s most affected city in the Covid-19 pandemic, officials have been forced to prepare extra provisions. Mass graves have appeared on Hart Island, off of Long Island and the Bronx. The island is lined with pits, preparing for the dreaded peak of the virus as the city continues to struggle with the exponentially worsening infections.
New York State now has more cases than any single country as its numbers grew from 10,000 on Thursday, up to 159,937 with 7000 deaths. The United States has 462,000 cases and 165,000 deaths. The White House estimated that 2.2 million Americans may die if no precautions are taken. Although, Governor Andrew Cuomo attempts a morale boost by declaring that hospital admissions had dropped for a second day down to 200. Cuomo saw it as a sign that social distancing was working. But the state’s death rate continues to soar. Globally, there are 1.6 million cases as Spain has 153,000 cases, Italy has 143,000 and China 82,000.
Drone footage shows people working in hazmat suits as they work alongside the pits. The footage shows New York’s dire situation as people line wooden coffins in mass graves. Operations on the island have been forced to speed up, moving from working just one day to working five. Contractors have taken over operations from Riker Islands inmates.
Hart Island has been used for 150 years as a burial site for those who had no next of kin or could not afford their own funerals. Historically, the island was also used as a grave site for the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. In the city’s 2008 Pandemic Influenza Surge Plan, the island was expected to be used as a temporary burial site. Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that temporary burials will be necessary as morgues reach capacity.
The prospect of temporary burial sites has sparked fear and anxiety, as concerns arise of the city’s parks being used as burial sites. Luckily, this has been corrected by officials. The risk of lack of space hangs overhead as the peak of the virus grows closer. New York State has shown the detrimental impact that this pandemic has had upon the world, highlighting more than ever that it needs to be taken seriously.