By Jonathon Van Maren
The scenes coming out of New York City over the past two weeks have been surreal: A field hospital in Central Park; one of the world’s largest financial centers on lockdown; Men and women wearing masks outdoors, in many cases for the first time since 9/11; yesterday, the death toll for the state surpassed 10,000, and aerial photographs of a deep trench with Bobcats stacking plain wooden coffins in rows blew up social media.
In fact, New York City has contracted laborers to bury unclaimed victims of the coronavirus pandemic on Hart Island, which has functioned as the city’s potter’s field since the 1800s for unidentified bodies or those too poor to arrange a formal funeral. According to Jason Kersten of the Department of Correction, which typically oversees inmates burying the coffins, about two dozen corpses per day are being buried on the island, five days a week. Previously, the number had been around 25 per week.