Edwina Frances Martin, Staten Island’s public administrator of estates, left, says a few words during a burial of four people at a cemetery in the Staten Island borough of New York

NEW YORK — A dozen mourners gathered at a newly dug grave last month to bury four people who had been put into limbo by COVID-19 in New York City.

He was one of hundreds of victims of coronavirus in the city. The temporary morgue, which houses about 200 bodies, was established at the height last year of the coronavirus crisis.

Many are now able to see and hear the temporary morgue that was fenced off on a Brooklyn pier, in an industrial area of Brooklyn. The city is celebrating its pandemic success by removing restrictions and setting off fireworks. __S.4__

Between three and nine months prior to their June burial at Staten Island’s Ocean View Cemetery, Charles Varga, George Davis, Diane Quince, and James Brown all died from various causes. Officials did not find any next-of-kin.

“But we know they lived, not friendless but with friends, family,” Edwina FrancesMartin, Staten Island’s public administrator for estates, said to a few Brown’s friends and volunteers who attend such funerals. “Because they are all now part of our family. We’re also a part of their family.”

New Yorkers are so worried that there are hundreds more at the morgue awaiting their final rest.

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Kiki Valentine is a Brooklyn minister and funeral assistant. She wrote to officials seeking an explanation and proposing steps she believes could help, including publishing public obituaries of the deceased.

The number of virus deaths in the city surpassed 800 per day at one time in April 2020. All causes are usually around 150. This overwhelmed funeral homes, cemeteries, and hospital mogues. To give families more time to plan funerals, the temporary morgue was created in April after city cut down its timeframe before burial in a remote Hart Island public cemetery. The temporary facility can be kept open for as long as the bodies are allowed to stay.

Amy Koplow (executive director of The Hebrew Free Burial Association), recalls that there was too much death to manage. She is currently interring some Jewish people who were temporarily at the morgue.

She said, “We feel really happy that we can bury these people who were unburied and in limbo so long.”

Koplow believes that the medical examiner’s Office did its best in this maelstrom. She noted that many cases require extensive searching for relatives or a will or other indications about the wishes of the deceased.

The temporary facility will be closed by the medical examiner’s offices. Investigators have stopped accepting new deceased persons there and are now working with relatives to make final arrangements for the approximately 200 remains. A spokesperson Mark Desire stated via email last week that the office is closing the temporary facility.

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This is a decrease from the 750 that was reported by the agency to City Council members in May. They stated that investigators had located relatives in many cases, but were awaiting their decisions or having stopped hearing from them.

Desire did not respond to questions regarding where the bodies taken from the facility were taken, why it remained in use after the 2020 surge subsided, or how many virus victims are there.

Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President and mayoral candidate, has asked City Hall for assistance in reaching the relatives of the deceased. Ryan Lynch, a spokesman, said that Ryan Lynch had requested assistance with government-paid funeral reimbursement applications. The city can pay up to $1700 and the federal program for COVID-19 death allows up to $9,000. Hart Island burial is free.

Rabbi Regina Sandler Phillips, who has organized volunteers for at-home vigils around the globe, particularly the unclaimed and unnamed, ventures occasionally to an unobtrusive location near the temporary morgue. She says she goes to “bear witness to what isn’t seen, and those who don’t name.”

She says that the pain of the facility’s creation, and its continued use, “highlights how difficult it is to honor the deceased.”

A group of witnesses was also present at Ocean View cemetery on June 17.

Diane Kramer, a volunteer for the Foundation for Dignity, said that they don’t want them going to their final resting places alone. It works in conjunction with Martin’s office and arranged the burial at a private cemetery.

It was difficult to confirm the information about Davis (76), and Quince (62).

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Varga, who was 81 years old, had a background as a business consultant in information science. He spoke four languages and, according to his social media profiles, worked on a documentary about homelessness in the last few years.

Sandra Andrews, a friend, stated that he was in poor health. She said he was distant from his family but became a father figure to Sandra after they met in 2010. She claimed that she tried to find out his fate after he died in February, but only learned about it from The Associated Press.

She said via email, “I didn’t get an occasion to properly say goodbye” to him.

According to Desereanne Fisher, a co-worker, and Anton Kumar, his boss, Brown, 51, was a dispatcher and taxi driver on and off for thirty years.

They stated that Brown was hardworking, and would sometimes sleep in the office. Brown’s beloved bowling ball is still with his coworkers.

Fisher cried as he admitted to friends that he had been distant from his family since childhood. He would do anything for you.

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Fisher stated that Brown, who fell on his head in a convenience store last March 2, was later found dead in his van, having been killed by a bloodclot. Fisher said that Brown’s colleagues tried to help arrange a funeral, but they were not related.

She said that there has been no closure since his death. However, she was relieved to learn that he had been buried in a secret plot with a plaque dedicating his friends.

She said that although he might not have had any family, he did have a lot of people who loved him.