NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s a grim statistic about the coronavirus pandemic’s deadly impact in New York City.

A new report say it has become the largest mass fatality incident in city history.

In fiscal year 2019, nearly 31,000 deaths were reported citywide.

That number doubled this year, to more than 65,000.

Rev. Karen Davis-Lawson and her husband, Dr. Noel Lawson of the Bronx, both contracted coronavirus and ended up in the hospital.

“The day I was discharged from the hospital, he was admitted,” Rev. Davis-Lawson told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.  “He came to bring me my coat and stuff so that I could come home. And he asked them to test him.”

Dr. Lawson spent three weeks in the hospital. A long-time teacher, he was still grading coursework while fighting for his life.

“So he was very dedicated to the things he set his mind to. He loved his students,” said Rev. Davis-Lawson.

On May 4th, Dr. Lawson passed away. He was 67.

He’s one of the nearly 24,000 people killed by the coronavirus in the city.


A new report from the mayor’s office said “COVID-19 tragically represents the largest mass fatality incident in modern New York City history.”

It also said the number of deaths in the city skyrocketed in the last year, with more than 65,000 deaths reported in fiscal year 2020.  In comparison, the year prior had just under 31,000 deaths.

WEB EXTRA: Read the full report (.pdf)

Dr. David Chokshi is the new health commissioner for New York City.  Before that post, he was treating patients as the city was engulfed by the pandemic.

“Those things are seared in my memory, with respect to understanding just how much tragedy was borne by people, by patients, by family members. And it’s something that I never want to go back to,” he said.

Dr. Chokshi also says that in order for New York to avoid a second wave, the solution is pretty simple.

“And that’s where the simple things like masks and face coverings and washing your hands and all of the other steps that we can take,” he said.

“Please take this virus seriously,” said Rev. Davis-Lawson.

When Dr. Lawson was infected, masks were not mandated in New York, but they are now.

His widow wonders if things would be different if we knew then, what we know now.

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