Queens priest dies of coronavirus, second NYC priest to die of virus
A second Roman Catholic priest, also from the Diocese of Brooklyn, has died of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.
Father Gioacchino Basile of St. Gabriel’s Church in East Elmhurst died at age 60 on Saturday. He had underlying health conditions that made it difficult for him to fight off the virus.
“With sadness we inform you that our dearest priest, D. Gioacchino Basile has passed to the Father. We ask for prayers for your eternal rest and for the comfort of your family,” the church wrote in a FaceBook post.
He is now the second priest in New York City to die of coronavirus, and the Diocese of Brooklyn — which oversees both Brooklyn and Queens — is home to an abundance of cases among parishioners and church staff.
Just last week, the Diocese’s St. Brigid’s Church in Wyckoff Heights lost its pastor, 49-year old Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, to the virus.
Basile was from Calabria, Italy and was fluent in English, Italian and Spanish. He was ordained on May 27, 1995, working at St. Joseph’s in New Jersey, the Diocese of Ponce in Puerto Rico and served as a chaplain at LaGuardia Airport, before joining the Diocese of Brooklyn in 2008.
His funeral will be held in private, though a memorial mass will be announced at a later date.
NYPD has to break up crowds at yet another outdoor funeral in Brooklyn
Members of the New York Police Department again had to disperse a crowd of Hasidic Jewish New Yorkers who were holding a large funeral service, this time for a prominent rabbi from the area who had coronavirus.
Amshinover rebbe Rav Yosef Kalish died at the age of 63 yesterday morning after being hospitalized for the virus just the week before.
By that afternoon, a funeral for Kalish was already being held at 55th St. and 12th Ave. in Borough Park, one of the neighborhoods hit hardest in Brooklyn, videos of which have been circulating online.
Despite the city and state governments’ social distancing mandates, Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish communities across the borough have still been holding large gatherings like this one, in which participants or mourners are very close together.
At yesterday’s funeral services, there were dozens of mourners, only some of whom were wearing face masks.
The crowd dispersed once the police arrived, and an NYPD spokesperson didn’t immediately share if there were any fines or summons issued.
Kalish, who is survived by his five children, “is a descendant of the founder of a Hasidic dynasty dating back to the 1800s, whose father was one of a line of disciples of the founder of Hasidism,” according to The New York Daily News.
Read more about this in this article: The New York Daily News
NYC Councilmember suggests burying dead in public parks amid coronavirus
Manhattan Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights) wrote in a series of Tweets on Monday that the city may have to resort to burying the dead in New York City public parks soon.
As hospitals, medical centers and morgues have filled up due to the coronavirus, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner sent out 80 refrigerated 18-wheeler trucks to hospitals across the city to house dead bodies that can no longer fit in the hospitals’ morgues.
These trucks are quickly filling up too, however, and Levine said that utilizing the NYC parks as burial grounds may be the next steps. Some hospitals have even requested second or third morgue trucks.
“Soon we’ll start ‘temporary internment,’” Levine Tweeted. “This likely will be done by using a NYC park for burials (yes you read that right). Trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line.”
“It will be done in a dignified, orderly–and temporary–manner. But it will be tough for NYers to take,” Levine went on. “The goal is to avoid scenes like those in Italy, where the military was forced to collect bodies from churches and even off the streets.”
Cemeteries are also being overwhelmed by the death rate, and many are having to turn families away because they can’t keep up with the demand for burials.
“Grieving families report calling as many as half a dozen funeral homes and finding none that can handle their deceased loved ones . . . cemeteries are not able to handle the number of burial requests and are turning most down,” Levine said.
While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did not corroborate Levine’s claims that the parks will be converted into cemeteries, he did admit that new measures will have to be taken to handle all of the corpses.
“We may well be dealing with temporary burials, so we can deal with each family later. We will have the capacity for temporary burials – that’s all I’m going to say,” de Blasio said. “I’m not going into details. I don’t think it’s a great thing to be talking about.”
As “out there” as the councilmembers statements may seem, the mayor did also bring up the Bronx’s Hart Island — which over the years has been used as a potter’s field for unclaimed graves, in addition to the site of a prison and a reformatory — as a possibility.
The island has long been used as the nation’s largest public burial ground, so there’s a chance of Hart Island being the city’s next steps, rather than the public parks.
“We’re going to try and treat every family with dignity, respect religious needs of those who are devout and the focus now is to try and get through this crisis and obviously also put all of our energy and resources into saving those we can save,” de Blasio said.
Read more about this in this article: The New York Post