NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For our healthcare workers, there’s a well-deserved round of applause echoes through the city every evening.

But there’s little buzz surrounding those that take care of the New Yorkers we’ve lost.

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Joe Aievoli’s great-grandfather opened a funeral home in Brooklyn in 1888. That grew to six locations throughout the city, none of them ready for what would hit in 2020.

“We basically have done a month’s worth of volume in, like, four or five days,” he said.


The mounting loss of lives claimed by COVID-19 has turned what was once a labor of love and comfort into an exhaustive effort.

“A transportation and storage operation,” he said.

Aievoli says New York City’s recent directive for EMTs to not take cardiac arrest patients to the hospital if they can’t save them in the field takes the hospital system out of play entirely.

The medical examiner’s office is overwhelmed.

“The hospitals are so stressed, and understandably so, that they are just leaving the bodies in the homes,” Aievoli said.

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That’s where his colleague Pat Marmo comes in.

“I have a table full. Each one of those papers and ID bands is people that have to be transferred from a place of death to our facility,” Marmo said.

“We are the in-between time custodians,” Aievoli said.

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And they’re the curators of the space left after a person passes: They provide peace. But when New York City is at war, there are mass casualties.

“Sometimes there’s three or four trailers backed up to a loading dock. There might be 150 decedents that you have to look through,” Marmo said.

Foreign territory for these veteran funeral directors: A hospital’s refrigerated trailer parked outside.

But every day they venture inside, without adequate supplies.

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“We were able to get some Lysol a couple of days ago, yeah, so supplies, masks would be a great help,” Aievoli said.

“I’m using the same mask for four days now because I’d rather my staff get the newer ones,” Marmo said.

Marmo calls his staff “last responders.”

“My circuit of last responders, they’ve been doing a fantastic job,” he said.

Marine reservist Marko Kepi is running for state Assembly in Marmo’s district.

“They are completely out of resources. I think it would be really important for the National Guard to come in and help,” Kepi said.

That’s a call to arms Aievoli and Marmo hope is answered. Until then, temporary solutions will have to do.

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For the first time in his career, Joe says he doesn’t want any more business. To make that happen, he asks that New Yorkers abide by the guidelines and stay inside.