Coronavirus Pandemic: COVID-19 deaths outpace funerals in New York City

Video from Reuters on April 9 showed laborers burying coffins on Hart Island in New York.

Coronavirus deaths in New York City have outpaced the number of funerals held there, according to a recent report in US media.

Yahoo News reported on Saturday that the spike in COVID-19 deaths has overwhelmed city-run morgues, funeral homes, crematoriums and private cemeteries in the most populous city in the United States.

According to the report the number of fatalities in New York City had reached a total of more than 11,000 this week.

The report said the COVID-19 disease had "disproportionately" affected low-income and minority communities, leading to more burials on the country's largest public burial ground, Hart island.

Hart Island has been New York City’s public burial ground for more than 150 years.

Most of the bodies that go there are unclaimed or belong to those whose poor families were not able to afford a burial.

However, not all of those buried at Hart Island during the pandemic are people who had no next of kin or could not afford a funeral.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed some of the bodies were buried there temporarily till the city could figure out a way to return the bodies to families.

The “temporary burials” will continue until the crisis passes and families will have the opportunity to claim and relocate the remains of their loved ones, he told reporters last week.

Burials on the island have increased to about 24 a day, according to city officials running the operations on the island.

Based on an ancient law referred to as the “right of sepulcher,” the next of kin of the deceased have the right to choose the final burial place of the remains.

In New York City, bodies of the unclaimed deceased have to buried. A violation of this right and burial without the permission of the next of kin could lead to a lawsuit against the perpetrator.