Centuries from now, historians will be writing (or whatever the equivalent will be) about how we handled--and didn't handle--the coronavirus/COVID-19 that has, to date, killed over 118,000 people worldwide.
A vestige of this pestilence are mass graves visible from outer space.
Last month, we saw satellite images of mass graves in Iran.
Now New York has had to dig them.
For more than 150 years, Hart Island, the former prison for Confederate soldiers located a mile off the Bronx coast, served as a potter's field, a cemetery for over one million individuals whose identities were either unknown at their deaths or whose families could not afford burial.
Before the coronavirus, burials on the island had begun to decrease.
Normally, Rikers Island jail inmates dig graves for 25 bodies a week for once-per-week burials.
That rate has increased to 25 bodies per day, five days a week.
Rikers inmates have been temporarily relieved of this duty.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Friday a response to people's concerns over the burials' apparent ignominy:
"There will be no mass burials on Hart Island. Everything will be individual and every body will be treated with dignity. The heartbreaking numbers of deaths we're seeing means we are sadly losing more people without family or friends to bury them privately. Those are the people who will be buried on Hart Island, with every measure of respect and dignity New York City can provide."
"A Hart Island burial is not disrespectful. It's a very sacred place."
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