Coronavirus News: Health care workers pinned as heroes on anniversary of 1st NY COVID case

COVID-19 News and Information
LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- Long Island health care workers were honored Monday on the one-year anniversary of the first documented coronavirus case in New York state.

Legislators in Suffolk County unveiled a ribbon memorial at the legislative building in Hauppauge to honor the more than 3,000 county residents who lost their lives to COVID.

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino acknowledged the brave health care professionals of Plainview and Syosset Hospitals by presenting them with 2020 hero pins.

During the first surge last spring, Northwell Health workers treated more than 70,000 COVID-19 patients across the system. Plainview and Syosset Hospitals, two community hospitals that were hard hit with COVID cases, agreed to take on patients from other Northwell hospitals that were facing patient surge capacity.

"Dedicated health care workers at Plainview and Syosset faced the deadly virus every day," officials said. "Several staff members contracted the disease and bravely returned to work as soon as possible after their recovery."

Many were amazed that it's been a year since the pandemic first started.

"It's just amazing that it's been a year already," Syosset Hospital Nurse Manager John Schiliro said. "Time has really flown. We've adapted each and every week. We have to change and adapt to different protocols."

"A year later, just very thankful of where we are now, where we've come from, how much we've learned," said Dr. Alan Kaplan, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Plainview Hospital and Syosset Hospital.

Residents can write the name of their loved one who died of COVID on a blue ribbon and tie it onto a rope on the memorial. A structure has also been set up for East End residents at the Evans K. Griffing building in Riverside.

Boy Scout Troop 888 built the memorial structures.

Ribbons and markers will be available at both locations Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for the entire month of March. The two structures will ultimately be combined into one permanent display in Hauppauge.

Brenda Allison, of Brentwood, said the memorial is comforting to her. Her husband Sheriff's Office Investigator Sergeant Keith Allison died of COVID in December.

"What this means to me is that, you know what, Keith has not been forgotten," she said.

Allison's granddaughter Avaleigh McCoy said the memorial allows her family another spot, besides the cemetery, to come and honor her grandfather.

"Not only can we go to a grave or something, we can go here to remember him," she said.

For those who are unable to visit the memorial to place a ribbon, visit www.scnylegislature.us/covidmemorial. The website offers an option to share a photo and a story about a loved one who died from the coronavirus. Staff members will write the loved one's name on a ribbon and tie it to the memorial.

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