Caribbean nationals among thousands of COVID-19 deaths

Dez-Ann Romain with students of her school.
New York Times

As the novel coronavirus continue its destruction, claiming lives of hundreds of thousands around the world, families of Caribbean nationals are coping with hardship and sadness, as many of their loved ones become fatalities in the climbing numbers in New York city.

Brooklyn Principal Dez Ann Romain, reported to have had Trinidad roots, was one of the first known in the public school system to have contracted the deadly virus and died from complications, leaving scores of her students and colleagues in a state of shock.

According to a release, Dez Ann Romain, 36, who led the Brooklyn Democracy Academy in Brownsville, a transfer school that serves students dropped out or fallen behind in credits in traditional high school settings, was celebrated with a candlelight vigil hosted by Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, via digital video conferencing platform Zoom.

“Brooklyn joins together in mourning and sorrow over the passing of Principal Dez-Ann Romain of Brooklyn Democracy Academy, who we lost to complications from COVID-19,” said Adams.

“Her work was dedicated to uplifting students at a transfer high school in Brownsville, one of our borough’s most underserved communities. Too many in our society have written off the young scholars under her stewardship, but where others saw problems, she saw promise and potential.”

“Principal Romain and my office collaborated together on a first-of-its-kind urban farming program at her school that has students growing fresh produce for Brooklynites in need, and I was personally proud to honor her leadership that has left a positive imprint on countless young lives. Every soul we lose in this pandemic is a tragic loss for our world,” he said.

“The loss of Principal Romain is particularly painful for the Brooklyn Democracy Academy family, our larger public school community, and a borough grateful for her service,” said Brooklyn Borough President.

“This is painful for all of us, and I extend my deepest condolences to the Brooklyn Democracy Academy community, and the family of Principal Romain,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.

“We’re all experiencing a deep sense of confusion, uncertainty, and sadness, and it’s more important than ever to provide support to one another. We’ll be there for the students and staff through whatever means necessary during this impossibly difficult time,” he stated.

Romain was promoted to assistant principal between 2016 and 2017. Borough President Adams, friends and family of Romain, New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Richard Carranza, and Council of Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) Executive Vice President, Henry Rubio, offered remembrances of Romain and celebrated the impact she had on her students.

“This is painful for all of us, and I extend my deepest condolences to the Brooklyn Democracy Academy community, and the family of Principal Romain,” said Schools Chancellor, Richard A. Carranza. “We’re all experiencing a deep sense of confusion, uncertainty, and sadness, and it’s more important than ever to give support to one another. We’ll be there for the students and staff through whatever means necessary during this impossibly difficult time.”

“Words cannot express what the passing of Principal Dez-Ann Romain means to our city’s school leaders,” said CSA President Mark Cannizzaro.

“We join her family, friends, students, colleagues, the New Visions community, and all NYC educators in mourning this heartbreaking loss, and we thank Borough President Adams for providing this opportunity to honor her memory. Principal Romain represented the very best of our city and its public schools — an inspiring, compassionate professional who worked tirelessly to provide all children with opportunity. She saved lives. To her present and former students: You were her mission, and we know that you will honor her legacy as you each carve out your unique path.”

Like Romain, Guyana-born Yvonne Wharton, sister of Guyana’s preeminent saxophonist Erwin “Flantis” Edwards, a caring, selfless person who volunteered her talents to educate youths at the Guyana Cultural Association’s annual summer camp in Brooklyn, died from COVID-19.

Cultural Director Claire A. Goring thanked Wharton, who was in her seventies, for her service to the program, noting that the talented woman had a hand in all the activities offered at the camp, where her grand children attended.

Another Guyanese-American Rita Yakum sadly died in her eighties from COVID-19, after being rushed to Kings County Hospital where she passed away.

The Grenadian community is also in mourning after the passing of Spice Angel Michelle Joseph.

The report said it is with deep sadness, Michelle Joseph who hails from Spring Street, Georges Grenada, a beautiful soul, a talented, intelligent Spice Sister, a minister in the church and mother of four children died from the Coronavirus in Brooklyn.

The family, who expressed shock at Joseph’s passing from the dreadful virus, described Michelle as an angel of God, who was dedicated to doing God’s work on earth.

“We as Grenadian Women Inc. and all Grenadians home and abroad send our deepest sympathy to Michelle’s children, family and friends. We too are hurting over the untimely passing of Michelle, said the Facebook post, adding, Rest in Beautiful Peach Our Spice Sister.

Up to press time, U.S deaths increase to more than 124,000, with more than 2,100 deaths. According to the New York Post, Coronavirus cases hit nearly 60, 000. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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