Question: Khristina Narizhnaya from the New York Post. I have a few questions about Hart Island. According to the Department of Corrections, burials increased by five times from one day a week to five days a week. To what do you attribute this increase?
Mayor: I'm very careful to speak broadly about this whole topic because I think it's a very, very painful one for New Yorkers and for the families who have lost people. This is not a policy matter. This is their lives or family members or loved one’s life. We have seen an increase in the number of people passing away overall. And what it means is there are more people who are passing away who just, we unfortunately we've seen this throughout our history, but it's being made deeper by the fact that more people are passing away because of this disease.
People pass away and there is no family member, no loved one, no friend, no one who our Office of Medical Examiner can find who has a connection to that person and is going to take responsibility for their burial. This is something that has existed for generations in this city. When that is the case, the City of New York steps up and says, okay, that person will be buried at Hart Island. But if a family member comes later or a loved one comes later, that individual, that body can be returned to that loved one.
Question: Are these COVID victims that are being buried there?
Mayor: It’s any kind of person who passes away from any cause. But more people are passing away obviously in large measure because of COVID.
Question: Is it possible that they’re COVID victims temporarily buried there because funeral homes are overwhelmed?
Mayor: No, these are people who no one after a period of time has claimed them and not just COVID victims but victims of all diseases, all reasons for fatality and they are being buried.
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