New Yorkers observed Memorial Day, cautiously.
Memorial Day weekend serves as a peek into what the city will look like in the coming months, a taste of summer that keeps New Yorkers looking forward.
But this year, in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, people on Monday questioned how to gather during a crisis: Some watched socially distant processions instead of traditional parades, while others headed to the park or the beach, eager for the morning’s gray skies to clear.
In Yonkers, just north of the city, military and emergency vehicles were part of a Motorcade Memorial Day Parade. An online flier encouraged onlookers to “wear a mask and practice social distancing.”
On Long Island, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran hosted a car parade to the Veterans Memorial at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. Residents were encouraged not to line the streets, but instead to watch a Facebook livestream and “salute” veterans remotely.
But many people simply stayed home, unlike in years past, when they gathered on stoops and in public parks to barbecue and toast the arrival of the warmer season.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that he was considering opening beaches this summer, should the pandemic continue to ebb. The lifeguards’ union said its workers were preparing to return to their posts as early as June.
Still, several members of the New York City Council urged the mayor to open the beaches for swimming.
“Access to city beaches isn’t just a summer fun issue,” Corey Johnson, the Council speaker, said in a statement on Saturday. “It is an equity issue and a public health issue. All New Yorkers, not just those wealthy enough to travel out of the city, deserve access to the beach this summer.”
The Council set forth several recommendations for a beach reopening, including: flags in the sand to indicate where beachgoers can sit while social distancing; walking lanes; limited entry; increased transportation options; and personal protective equipment and testing for lifeguards.
N.Y. will pay benefits for workers who died fighting the pandemic.
New York’s state and local governments will provide death benefits to the families of essential workers who died while fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday.
“We want to make sure that we remember them, and we thank our heroes of today, and they’re all around us,” Mr. Cuomo said at his daily news briefing.
As people paused on Memorial Day to remember military personnel who died while serving the country, Mr. Cuomo linked the fallen service members to New York’s front-line workers, whom he called today’s “heroes.”
The public employees whose families would receive death benefits included health workers, police officers, firefighters, transit workers and emergency medical workers, the governor said. The benefits would be paid out of state and local pension funds.
Mr. Cuomo noted that even as he shut down the state, citing the severity of the outbreak, workers across New York had been required to put themselves in danger to help fight the virus.
“They showed up because I asked them to show up,” he said.
Mr. Cuomo also called on the federal government to provide funds to give hazard pay to workers who were crucial to keeping states and municipalities operating during the outbreak.
Last week, Mr. de Blasio urged the state to approve line-of-duty death benefits for the families of municipal employees who died of the virus. Some lawmakers in nearby New Jersey are also urging their state to consider taking similar action.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York City’s subway and buses, has also said it would give death benefits to the families of coronavirus victims.
Mr. Cuomo’s announcement came as New York reported 96 new deaths related to the virus, only the second time that the state’s death toll had fallen below 100 since late March.
The governor, who held his news briefing on the deck of the U.S.S. Intrepid, an aircraft carrier turned museum anchored at the piers along the Hudson River, specifically mentioned veterans who died of the virus.
Before the briefing began, the governor and his daughter Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo participated in a Memorial Day ceremony.
Visitors to Green-Wood Cemetery honored the fallen.
Green-Wood Cemetery, the 182-year-old resting grounds of New Yorkers famous and humble, has seen a sharp increase in visitors during the pandemic, its sprawling acres of wide roads and paths a perfect setting for social distancing.
A recent email from the cemetery threatening closure because of rule breakers — dog walkers, joggers, children climbing on stones — made the rounds with yikes-Dad-is-angry urgency, and the threat has not been repeated.
The Brooklyn cemetery’s Hill of Graves holds some of the oldest stones, their inscriptions worn down by the years. Rounding one side of the hill leads to the Soldiers’ Lot, holding the remains of some of the cemetery’s 6,000 Civil War dead, each marked with a modest white stone bearing names like Capt. Marcus Monck, Sgt. Charles P. Abbins, Pvt. David Crawford.
The largest monument in the lot is a statue marked, “Our Drummer Boy,” a zinc figure in uniform carrying a marching drum. It is a monument to Clarence D. MacKenzie, a 12-year-old boy who had traveled to join Brooklyn’s 13th Regiment at Annapolis. While there, in his tent, he was struck and killed by a fellow officer’s bullet during a drill.
The cemetery was more crowded Monday, shortly after noon, than on many recent weekdays, but still felt wide open, its visitors spread out. To mark Memorial Day, all the stones at Soldier’s Lot were marked with a small American flag. The flags are normally placed by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, but this holiday weekend they were offered to visitors at the entrances, who found the graves themselves.
A closer look showed that someone left something different at Clarence’s marker. At the base of the marble stone bearing his name and young age lay a pair of drumsticks.
The C.D.C. is warning of ‘aggressive’ rats searching for food.
Humans are not the only ones who miss dining out.
As restaurants and other businesses have closed during the coronavirus pandemic, rats may become more aggressive as they hunt for new sources of food, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned.
Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to “unusual or aggressive” rodent behavior, the agency said on its website on Thursday.
“The rats are not becoming aggressive toward people, but toward each other,” Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist who has both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in rodent pest management, said on Sunday. “They’re simply turning on each other.”
Dr. Corrigan said there are certain colonies of rats in New York that have depended on restaurants’ nightly trash for hundreds of generations, coming out of the sewers and alleys to ravage the bags left on the streets. With the shutdown, all of that went away, leaving rats hungry and desperate.
Other unusual rodent behavior may be on the rise, too. Researchers are studying if disruptions in food supply are causing rats to more frequently set up shop in car engines.
A veteran was near death. Then he met a military social worker.
The outlook for the patient assigned to Capt. Eric Dungan on May 1 was bleak: George Crouch, 96, seemed to have given up on life.
His wife had died of Covid-19, and Mr. Crouch was also battling the illness in the hospital. Since his wife’s death in late April, he was refusing medical care and would not eat.
Captain Dungan, a trained social worker in the U.S. Army Reserves, had been deployed from Indiana to New York City to help hospitals during the coronavirus crisis. Many of his patients had already died of the illness, and given Mr. Crouch’s age, condition and temperament, Captain Dungan braced for the worst.
A nurse stopped him on his way to visit Mr. Crouch for the first time. Did Captain Dungan know, the nurse asked, that Mr. Crouch was a veteran of World War II?
“I always see World War II vets as national treasures,” Captain Dungan said. “He did not disappoint.”
The soldiers’ disparate paths had collided at that hospital bedside.
Mr. Crouch was decades out of the Army; Captain Dungan, 46, had only just signed up for the reserves, driven to enlist after the death of his own father, a veteran.
Bonded by their time in the service, the two men connected. Through their friendship, Mr. Crouch found something to live for, his family believes.
“Captain Eric Dungan had immense impact on him. And on us, we really love him,” said Kai Adwoa-Thomas, Mr. Crouch’s daughter.
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Sandra E. Garcia, Michael Gold, Joseph Goldstein, Jesse McKinley, Mariel Padilla, Dana Rubinstein, Ali Watkins and Michael Wilson contributed reporting.