Dina Maniotis, executive deputy commissioner with the medical examiner’s office, said most of the bodies could end up on Hart Island, off the Bronx, where the city has buried its poor and unclaimed for more than a century.Brittany Shammas - Washington Post
The Hart Island Project COVID-19 Initiative is an attempt to identify people who died of the virus in New York City and were buried on Hart Island.
On April 3, 2020, inmate labor ended on Hart Island after a century and a half. The following Monday, April 6, 2020, contracted labor was hired to conduct the burials. Families of people who died of COVID-19 were asked to consent to a city burial.
To give families additional time to decide or make alternative arrangements, the New York City medical examiner stored their bodies in freezer trucks for months. Burial records indicate that New York City buried people who died in April five or six months after being stored in freezer trucks.
Due to lingering stigma associated with city burials, many families are reluctant to discuss their decision to bury a loved one on Hart Island. Our COVID-19 Initiative is an attempt to help the larger community to locate the gravesites of people they knew and support families and friends of people buried in City Cemetery. Through engaged storytelling we hope to enlarge the meaning of this landscape to and make it an inclusive rather than shameful resting place.