By Cory James

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Many memorials were held across New York City on Sunday as we marked one year since the city’s first known COVID death.

The faces of some of the 30,000 New Yorkers were projected onto the Brooklyn Bridge, a night reminder of the tragedy so many faced day in and day out.

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Under the bridge, a ceremony was held, where family members cried out the pain of loss.

“Our grief will never fully go away, but neither will our love,” one speaker said.

The ceremony happened on a Day of Remembrance. It was one of many that unfolded across the city Sunday.

“I’ve lost, I stopped counting at 13,” Mark Espinoza told CBS2’s Cory James

Two of those people were Espinoza’s father, Thelmo Espinoza, and his grandmother, Ada Guzman. His father passed away the day before his 68th birthday, and his grandmother died at 95 years old. Both took their last breaths just days apart.

“It’s been tough all around,” Espinoza said. “My father was going to the hospital April 3. Two to three hours later, my grandmother passes away.”


At Brooklyn Borough Hall, Espinoza stood in between two art installations. One has the names of those who were killed by the deadly virus; the other has the names of people born during a time of uncertainty.

Borough President Eric Adams says this tribute is to honor them.

“COVID virus is not terrorism, but it brought about terror,” he said. “We are saying that the absence of their body is not the absence of our memories.”

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Espinoza says the grieving has been incredibly hard, but he is finding hope through his 4-month-old daughter, Annalise, and signs of those he lost.

“You just see certain things that remind you of him, and I’m like, ‘Oh, there you go,'” he said.

A moment of reflection as so many on this Sunday reflected on the tens of thousands of people who lost their lives to the deadly virus.


Scientists believe the virus had been circulating silently in the Tri-State Area for weeks before officials announced the city’s first positive test on March 2, 2020.

The World Health Organization declared a worldwide pandemic on March 11, when New York City was the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.

Broadway theaters and other large entertainment venues were ordered to close on March 12. Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered schools to close on March 15. Bars and restaurants followed, and schools closed statewide a few days later.

On March 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he was banning gatherings of any size, for an reason, anywhere in the state.

New York City averaged 750 deaths per day during a 10-day stretch in April 2020.

Lockdowns and strict compliance with strict social distancing guidelines worked. By late spring, fatalities plummeted and the region reached some of the country’s lowest infection rates until a resurgence in the fall.

The death toll in New York City and the suburbs in Connecticut and New Jersey stands at more than 65,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Cory James