'Day of Remembrance' ceremony marks anniversary of 1st NYC COVID death

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, March 15, 2021
'Day of Remembrance' ceremony marks anniversary of 1st NYC COVID death
Sunday marks one year since the first person died from the coronavirus in New York City.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Sunday marks one year since the first person died from the coronavirus in New York City.

The first death took place at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn -- it was one of two in the area that happened on the same day.

On Sunday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted "A COVID-19 Day of Remembrance," a live official memorial ceremony to honor the more than 30,000 New Yorkers lost during the pandemic.

WATCH | 'COVID Day of Remembrance' full ceremony

New York City delivers a stunning tribute to all the New Yorkers who lost their lives during the COVID pandemic.

"Every morning, the first thing I see is a list and there are numbers on it, but what it really means is how many people we lost, how many New Yorkers are gone, how many neighbors, how many members of our family," the mayor said. "Today, that number is more than 30,000. It's a number we can barely imagine. More New Yorkers lost than in World War II, Vietnam, Hurricane Sandy, and 9/11 put together."

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers touching remarks at the 'New York City COVID Day of Remembrance' ceremony.

In addition to remarks from the mayor and First Lady Chirlane McCray, the ceremony will also featured New Yorkers who lost their loved ones and a remembrance video.

Throughout the ceremony, images of New Yorkers lost to the pandemic were projected on to the Brooklyn Bridge.

The ceremony included musical performances by the New York Philharmonic, Bishop Hezekiah Walker and The Love Fellowship Choir.

The New York Philharmonic plays a beautiful tribute to those who lost their lives due to COVID.

The city also remembered the victims of COVID with tributes at Lincoln Center.

Candles flickered and the fountain lights turned off for 30 minutes.

"It's so emotional then to see something like this to pay tribute," Manhattan resident Karen Colligan said.

New York City has experienced lockdown, empty streets busy hospitals and soaring death tolls.

As many adhered to the stay at home order, there was applause every night for health care workers.

Grocery stores and drive-thru testing centers saw long lines.

At Lenox Hill Hospital, frontline workers walked around the hospital with cellphones lit to commemorate one year later.

As nearly 2 million people across the city have been vaccinated and more continue to get their vaccine, the city has turned a corner.

But for one family, it's as if time has stood still in a year that threw Andreas Koutsoudakis and his family the cruelest curve ball. COVID-19 killed his father.

MORE NEWS | 89-year-old New Yorker gets vaccine so he can get back to dancing

Eighty-nine-year-old New Yorker Bob Holzman received his COVID-19 vaccine as soon as he could, hoping it would allow him to get back to his favorite activity, dancing.

"He was really scared to the point where with certainty, he knew this was going to be the last time I talked with him," Andreas Koutsoudakis Jr. said.

The 59-year-old Andreas Sr., was a staple at the family's restaurant Tribeca's Kitchen. It was a familiar face customers looked for, even now with his son running things, still look for.

"Even if I was here every minute of every day, it's never going to be the same, nobody misses the old Tribeca's Kitchen more than me, he was alive, there's nothing I can do to bring him back," Koutsoudakis said.

However, on Sunday night, Koutsoudakis and his family got a chance to remember him.

"I'm going to pause -- remember this place filled with my dad at front, 400 customers a day, sink or swim its on me," Koutsoudakis said.

The pandemic in NYC captured in photos

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Pedestrians wear protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic while walking on the boardwalk Friday, May 22, 2020, in Long Beach, N.Y.
/Frank Franklin II
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