New York marks anniversary of first Covid-19 death

Images of people who died were projected on to the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge

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New York City marked one year since the first Covid-19 death on Sunday, March 14, with online ceremonies to remember those lost to the pandemic.

The largest city in the US underwent one of the harshest lockdowns in March and April of 2020 when it became the global centre of the pandemic.

More than 30,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the city.

"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 neighbours, how many members of our family," Mayor Bill de Blasio said, during a speech he gave near the Brooklyn Bridge.

The city projected images of New Yorkers who have died from the disease on to the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge Sunday night.

The memorial was witnessed by drivers and pedestrians but was also broadcast live.

"Today, that number is more than 30,000. It's a number we can barely imagine. More New Yorkers lost than in Second World War, Vietnam, Hurricane Sandy and 9/11 put together," the mayor said.

The Lincoln Centre also marked the anniversary by releasing a music video of a performance by the Young People's Chorus of New York City, which sang Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic piece You'll Never Walk Alone.

The renowned performance company has had to cancel all indoor events for over a year, though it has pivoted to online performances that can be streamed at home.

The Lincoln Centre says it will have outdoor performances this spring and summer before it considers reopening for indoor events.

New York City and state marked the anniversary of the area's first coronavirus case on March 2, 2021.

Later, Governor Andrew Cuomo moved to enact a lockdown of a town north of the city, which was recording a growing number of cases.

Rochelle, New York, was the first to lock down before officials realised the disease was spreading elsewhere undetected and uncontrolled. The city recorded its first Covid-19 death on March 14, 2020.

New York issued its stay-at-home order on March 20 after a rapid rise in coronavirus cases. Hospitals quickly became overwhelmed with patients infected with the virus.

Schools closed, non-essential businesses were asked to close and offices ordered employees to work from home. Essential businesses such as grocery stores set capacity limits, resulting in lines to enter. The city emptied as more and more people began moving away.

At its worst, New York City suffered more than 750 daily Covid deaths in late March and early April. There were also more than 5,000 infections each day, although the case count may be lower than the true number as testing was not widely available at the time.

Currently, New York City has a seven-day average of 3,200 cases while there is concern over the spread of Covid-19 variants. Public officials said a home-grown variant in Washington Heights and the UK variant accounted for 51 per cent of cases last week.

The city is taking steps towards reopening, with film theatres welcoming back people in early March after putting in place safety regulations. Restaurants are also now open for indoor dining at 35 per cent capacity.

New York City is inoculating people with all three vaccines approved for use in the US through mass vaccination centres running 24 hours a day.

At least 23 per cent of the city's adult population has had one dose of the vaccine and 11 per cent of the city's adults have been fully vaccinated, according to the city's health department.