Drone pictures show bodies being buried on New York’s Hart Island, where the department of corrections is dealing with more burials overall, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which has killed more than 6,000 people in New York City alone.
The city has used Hart Island to bury New Yorkers with no known next of kin or whose family are unable to arrange a funeral since the 19th century.
Typically, some 25 bodies are interred each week by low-paid jail inmates working on the island, which sits off the east shore of the city’s Bronx borough and is accessible only by boat. That number began increasing in March as the new coronavirus spread rapidly, making New York the epicentre of the global pandemic.
There are about two dozen bodies a day, five days a week buried on the island, said Jason Kersten, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Correction, which oversees the burials.
Before burial, the dead are wrapped in body bags and placed inside pine caskets. The deceased’s name is scrawled in large letters on each casket, which helps should a body need to be disinterred later. They are buried in long narrow trenches excavated by digging machines.
“They added two new trenches in case we need them,” Kersten said.
A barge could be seen arriving at the island on Thursday morning with a refrigerated truck aboard containing about two dozen bodies.
The department referred questions about causes of death to the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman, said it would take time to collate individual causes of death from the office’s records, but it was probable some of the recent burials include those felled by the coronavirus.
The island may also be used as a site for temporary interments should deaths surge past the city’s morgue capacity, a point that has not yet been reached, Kersten and Worthy-Davis said.
“We’re all hoping it’s not coming to this,” Kersten said. “At the same time, we’re prepared if it does.”
Hopefully, it doesn’t go to that extend and we are praying that Covid-19 outbreak will be under control soon.
Source : Oriental Daily