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New York graves are unable to receive the dead due to Corona

Greenwood, the largest cemetery in New York, has reached its maximum capacity after cremations more than doubled, and burials increased fivefold, as the bodies of victims of the Covid-19 epidemic poured.

The graves had prepared to receive a large number of dead during the Ebola epidemic between 2013 and 2016, but the United States escaped it.

In the third week of March, the Covid-19 pandemic reached the cemetery in Brooklyn, which was established in 1838 to become one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the city, stretching over 193 hectares and overlooking the New York Bay, in which the musician Leonard Bernstein and the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat lie.

"It started to cremate," said deputy cemetery chief and operations officer Eric Barna. "On some days, the number exceeded" four or five times "the usual size.

Currently, 130 to 140 bodies are burned in the cemetery, compared to 60 in normal times.

Barna, who is a member of the Metropolitan Cemetery Association that includes New York graves including Long Island in the east and Westchester in the north, says "it's not just about Greenwood."

"Everyone is receiving similar numbers. ... I have heard that some burial offices are looking outside of New York State (...) We have reached a point where the system can no longer manage such a volume in such a short time as this," he explains.

Cremation (about $ 370) is much less expensive than burial, as the space for three coffins in the cemetery is sold for $ 19,000.

Barna stresses that the burials witnessed a "real acceleration" ten days ago, reaching 15 or 16 per day, compared to 2 or 3 on normal days.

"Less than the actual number"

It appears that the number of deaths officially recorded as a Covid-19 epidemic in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, which exceeds the outcome of some of the countries most affected, is "much lower than the actual number", and the reason is undoubtedly due to the limited number of tests to detect the virus, according to Barna.

The number of people who died from the new corona virus in New York City on Tuesday exceeded 10,000 after the city authorities announced that they had added to the death toll of the Covid-19 epidemic about 4 thousand people who had not undergone laboratory tests to prove that they were infected with the virus, but the circumstances of their death are likely to be caused by it.

This official did not see the slowdown in the epidemic that state governor Andrew Como and New York Mayor Bill de Palacio talked about in recent days, even if he noticed stability in numbers.

He thought the idea of ​​a temporary burial, raised last week by a Manhattan lawmaker to handle the record death toll, "would be very complicated."

"The city is not ready to run a temporary cemetery," he said.

To carry out a burial in Greenwood, workers are provided with protective measures and often do not remain when relatives are present, to avoid infection, as Barna explained, who praised their work.

The official showed some flexibility about the number of people currently authorized to attend burial ceremonies in the cemetery that no infection was recorded among its employees, as "often only family members attend", noting that during cremation, almost no relative is present.

Barna said, "For many people, the plan is to resort to what is faster, which is cremation, but as things return to normal, we will see many ceremonies."

Source / agencies