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COVID-19 in New York City, Two Years Later

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COVID-19 in New York City, Two Years Later
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Adi Talwar

Rachel Oddman, 69, photographed in front of the Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem in early 2021.

Two years ago on Monday, New York City saw its first COVID-19 death. In the days to follow, public schools, restaurants and bars would shut down, and the five boroughs would enter an eerie state of lockdown while the city emerged as an early epicenter of the pandemic.

Since then, nearly 40,000 New York City residents have died from the coronavirus. A year ago, the city marked the the first anniversary of the crisis with a “day of remembrance” that included a memorial ceremony where images of those lost were projected onto the Brooklyn Bridge.

The two-year milestone seems to be passing in a much quieter way this year. Neither Mayor Eric Adams or Gov. Kathy Hochul had COVID-related events on their public schedules Monday, though the mayor’s office announced it would be lighting City Hall and five other municipal buildings amber to honor the anniversary. The city lifted both its mask mandate for public schools and its vaccine requirements for indoor venues last week—citing declining cases, low community spread and high vaccination—marking a new phase of the reopening.

“As we work to recover and rebuild New York City, we must remember those that we have lost, and carry on their stories,” Adams said in a statement Monday morning. “We will never forget their names, their faces, or the ways they have shaped this great city, and we recommit ourselves, in their memories, to remake our city into one that is more just, equitable, and resilient.”

As the city and the world enters its third year of life with COVID-19, here’s a look back at some pivotal moments, as told through City Limits’ coverage of the crisis since March 2020.

Looking Back: COVID-19 in New York City, Two Years Later