A 20,000-square-foot memorial to COVID-19 victims is under way as the death toll from the virus passed the 100,000 mark in the United States.
It may be giant piece of asphalt in Queens, but to world-class artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, anything is a canvas.
“It’s a gift to the family and to many families to know that we care,” Rodriguez-Gerada said.
And all this week, he is working to bring to life the massive portrait of a doctor who lost his.
“What I would really like to do is create a place where people could mourn, there’s no way for us to come together,” Rodriguez-Gerada said.
Dr. Ydelfonso Decoo was a pediatrician who worked on the frontlines as COVID washed over his city.
He tested and treated New Yorkers as part of his work for Somos, a healthcare company in the trenches.
“We were searching for a way to take a moment and find a way to honor these people as heroes,” said Somos co-founder Henry Munoz.
In normal days, the canvas is a city-owned parking lot at the Worlds Fairgrounds in Flushing Meadows. But by the end of this week, when the mural is complete, organizers envision a memorial park — a place where all New Yorkers can come and reflect on three unimaginable months.
“Dr. Decoo symbolizes other doctors, other health care workers who every day go to work to keep New York healthy,” Munoz said.
Gerada sorted through piles of pictures of health care workers before settling on Dr. Decoo. But the project isn’t about just him — it’s about the thousands of New Yorkers lost.
“Each number in those large numbers is someone who used to laugh and cry and is now mourned by family, so it’s not just numbers, never is,” Rodriguez-Gerada said.
In the portrait, the eyes are unique to Dr. Decoo, but the rest of the face could be any health care workers, any New Yorker, who fell to COVID.
Someday, the paint will fade, but their sacrifice and the city’s loss will endure.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE
Share your coronavirus story with Eyewitness News
Stimulus check scams and other coronavirus hoaxes
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus
Total count of NYC COVID-19 cases based on patient address
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.