News

Hundreds of bodies of covid-19 victims are still in New York’s refrigerated trucks more than a year into the pandemic

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In a report to a city council health committee last week, officials with the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner acknowledged that the remains of about 750 covid-19 victims are still being stored inside the trucks. Officials said during a Wednesday committee meeting that they will try to lower the number soon.

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 has city buried its poor and unclaimed for more than a century

“We will continue to work with families,” Maniotis told the health committee, according to the City news site. “As soon as the family tells us they would like their loved one transferred to Hart Island, we do that very quickly.”

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Ted Shaffrey/AP

Rikers Inmates Will No Longer Bury The Dead Amid Hart Island Transformation

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“Hart Island has been treated as a topic of shame in this city, and it's largely been kept out of the public consciousness of New Yorkers,” Council Member and health committee chair Mark Levine, who sponsored pieces of the legislation, said during an oversight hearing on Hart Island Wednesday. “It should be a dignified place open to the public, not just to people who have loved ones buried there. A place which uplifts and celebrates the history, offers reverence to the stories of those who are buried there, including victims of the most recent pandemic.”


Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget also includes more than $50 million in capital funding to demolish dangerous structures on the property. “The buildings are scary to people who visit,” said Melinda Hunt, founder of the Hart Island Project. “They're a reminder of Hart Island being managed by the penal system for a very long time.”

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©2021 Alon Sicherman and Sean Vegessi/The Hart Island Project

A Look Inside Hart Island, NYC’s Potter’s Field, as COVID Graves Grow

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Hart Island, a small piece of land off The Bronx, resurfaced in national headlines in April 2020, when New York City became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

News footage of the island’s cemetery showed trenches being filled with pine coffins, sending shock waves around the world. But these mass burials taking place during the pandemic mark just the most recent interments in Hart Island’s long history.

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Vox and Columbia Journalism School

One in 10 Local COVID Victims Destined for Hart Island, NYC’s Potter’s Field

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Last year on Hart Island proved deadlier than any year during the AIDS crisis. More burials are expected as the disproportionate pandemic impact sends thousands to the final resting place of New York’s most vulnerable.

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Schumer and AOC Get Feds to Pay for Funerals of COVID-19 Victims in NYC and Beyond

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The federal government will help pay for the funeral and burial of COVID-19 victims whose families can’t afford the expenses, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced Monday. 

In a rare joining of forces, the two New York members of Congress, who disagree on the Democratic Party platform, said that the Federal Emergency Management Administration will tap into the overall $2 billion national pot of disaster funds to cover the costs.

New York State will get approximately $260 million in funeral assistance funds, according to Schumer. FEMA will cover all funeral expenses, which run an average of $7,000. People can file retroactively for reimbursements dating back to Jan. 20, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020

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Events

Hart Island Suite Premiere

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Jazz composer Anita Brown received a 2019 NYSCA award with support from The Hart Island Project as fiscal sponsor. The work was scheduled to premiere in 2020 and delayed due to COVID restrictions. Hart Island Suite tells the story of Anita's elder sister, Julie, who was buried on Hart Island before Anita was born. 

See pdf announcement

Past events

Hart Island Project Annual Meeting

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The Hart Island Project annual meeting is open to the public and will take place on Zoom. Please join the link below to attend.

Link to Meeting


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Anonymous AIDS graves on Hart Island - photo credit Sean Vegessi ©2021 The Hart Island Project

Landscapes and Pandemics: The inequities of HIV/AIDS & COVID-19

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COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx people, as well as LGBTQ+ people, many who are living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities. Over the past year, several comparisons have been made between the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the US in the 80s and 90s and the current COVID-19 pandemic. We will hear from leading academics and activists and learn what these pandemics mean for communities across the US.

REGISTER


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NYC COUNCIL HEARING: Hart Island and the City's Public Burial Process & Assistance Program

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The public is invited to attend this hearing and testify. If you are planning on testifying live via video conferencing, please register no later than 24 hours before the hearing. 


Each person who intends on testifying live should register separately. Persons who do not register in advance will not be permitted to testify live via video conferencing. 


If you are interested in viewing the hearing, but do not wish to testify live, the hearing can be viewed at  https://council.nyc.gov/livestream/.  


Written testimony may be submitted without registration by emailing it to testimony@council.nyc.gov up to 72 hours after the close of the hearing. Thank you for your cooperation. 


For questions about accessibility or to request additional accommodations please contact swerts@council.nyc.gov or nbenjamin@council.nyc.govor (212) 788-6936 at least 72 hours before the hearing. All other questions should be directed to me at ebalkan@nyc.council.gov.


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AIDS Burials on Hart Island Workshop with Elsie Soto

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Join The Hart Island Project and Elsie Soto at a live workshop this Saturday, Feb. 27.

Watch video in advance here

Join us on Zoom at 11:00 AM for workshop starting at 11:15 AM-AIDS Burials on Hart Island as part of Bronx Parks Speak-Up 2021
Zoom link – Meeting ID: 893 3782 3394 / Password: 46690


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27th Bronx Parks Speakup from 10-11 AM

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Meet with The Hart Island Project to answer your questions about our newest initiative to designate Hart Island National Monument.

Watch slide show in advance on the History of and Potential for Hart Island here

 Join Zoom meeting starting at 10 AM here


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