Several Covid-19 cases were reported in New York at the time, and while city and state officials said they were monitoring the virus, they urged residents to remain calm. Officials have not yet recommended wearing masks or taking other precautions. Like other New Yorkers, Mr. Morales spent his life putting long hours into a truck, serving a mix of airport workers, taxi drivers, and students at a nearby college.
“There was nothing in the air about what was going to happen,” said Mr. Morales’ son, Danny Morales. “We were all in the perfect mood.”
On March 11, his son, Jorge Morales, 65, fell ill with a fever and began vomiting for four days. His condition worsened, which made it impossible for him to get out of bed at his home in Jackson Heights, Queens. Family members said that Mr. Morales was hospitalized for fear of suffering from complications of type 2 diabetes, but he was later positive for Covid-19.
Mr. Morales and 814 other New Yorkers died on April 7 from the virus. It was the deadliest day of the deadliest pandemic week in the city, according to the city’s health department. During that week, which began on April 5, 5,319 residents died from the virus, and nearly 10,000 people were hospitalized, data show.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio began locking measures in mid-March, including closing schools and relocating restaurants. The complete cessation of the city happened on March 22. Epidemiologists and city officials attribute the halt, along with orders to wear masks, to slow the spread of Covid-19. But by then, the virus had already grown in the city.
Data from the health department show that there were 173 Covid-19 cases in the city on March 10, although testing was limited at the time. By March 22, the number of cases had jumped to 23,457. An increase in hospitalizations and deaths followed, and the deadliest day followed more than two weeks later.
“It’s not a quick death, and that’s why it took so long to reach this peak after the locks began,” said Dr. Angelique Corthals, a biomedical and forensic anthropologist and associate professor at John Jai College at New York City University.
Many families who lost loved ones during the deadliest week described the time as chaotic and said they did not know that their loved ones would become part of such a gloomy collection. Most had to mourn privately because of the locking measures. Some said they continue to question what they could have done differently.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t go through the bills in my head about things I may have missed, things I could have done,” said Simone Andrews, a psychologist whose husband Levester Thompson Jr. died of Covid-19 at the University of Richmond Medical Center in Staten Island on April 6, 2020.
“You don’t know if the outcome would have been different, but you’re still repeating yourself.”
Mr Thompson, who was known as “LT”, was 46 years old and healthy, his wife said. He was the equipment and retail manager at the athletics department of New York University, where he was also the assistant coach of women’s basketball. The couple, who met as a student at NIU, raised their two children, Jade (21) and Chase (13) on Staten Island.
Reports of Covid-19 in early March encouraged Mr. Thompson to wear a mask and gloves during the trip, his wife said. On March 13, he began to feel bad. For several days, he became increasingly ill and eventually collapsed in the family home, Dr. Andrews said. He was hospitalized on March 18.
At that time, most people could not visit their loved ones in hospitals, which left many to rely on phone calls and video chat.
Dr. Andrews said that she connected with her husband via FaceTime on the day he died. He couldn’t talk because he was intubated, she said, but she knew she could hear, so she played a song by his favorite band, Smashing Pumpkins, and told him she loved him.
A few months ago, she received a medical bill for her husband with a detailed list of Covid-19 care procedures. She couldn’t look at him, she said.
“It’s actually quite discouraging to think that your body was planted and that it was all done in the name of rescue, but then in the end you die alone,” she said.
Jackie Bray, the highest official in the mayor’s office who worked on the city’s Covid-19 response, said that during the deadliest week, the city authorities did not know when the death and hospitalizations would subside. On April 6, 2020, the city asked the federal government to provide additional body bags, Ms. Brai said.
“It was one of those days when you felt that the virus was always one step ahead of you,” she said. At that time, the city was already facing a lack of personal protective equipment and medicines, she said.
Although that week was among the darkest days in the city, Ms. Brai said, she also marked a turning point. By April 7, city officials believed they would need fewer hospital beds in the coming days and began discussing internally the city’s transition to a more manageable phase of the virus that included testing and contacting, she said.
“Acceleration is slow,” Ms. Brai said.
After Mr. Morales died, his family raised $ 15,000 on the GoFundMe page to help him pay for the funeral and living expenses. The money, meanwhile, ran out, and his wife Maggie and daughter Ivanna had to reopen the food truck.
The truck now has fewer customers. Ms. Morales plans to sell their house in Jackson Heights and move to the state, near where her son Danny lives. After moving, she could reopen the truck to sell Ecuadorian food.
“My mom and dad always wanted to retire and go to the country and live on the farm,” said Danny Morales. “That never happened to my father.”
This story was published from a wire agency feed without text changes.