The wood and rope memorial structure was built by Boy Scout Troop 888. Courtesy photo.

Suffolk County is creating a COVID-19 memorial to honor the memory of the more than 3,000 Suffolk residents who died of the virus in the past year.

The Suffolk County COVID-19 Memorial will be located at the county legislature’s William H. Rogers building in Smithtown.

The memorial is a wood and rope structure built by Boy Scout Troop 888. Ribbons bearing the names of Suffolk residents lost to the disease will be tied to the memorial.

Anyone who has lost someone to COVID-19 may submit their loved one’s name for inclusion in the memorial online by filling out this form.

The website also provides the option to share a photo and a memory about the person.

County staff will write the loved one’s name on a ribbon and affix it to the memorial.

Ribbons will also be made available to those who wish to write their loved one’s name and tie the ribbon themselves, at both the memorial in Smithtown as well as a temporary structure on in the lobby of the Evans K. Griffing building at 300 Center Drive in Riverside. Ribbons tied in Riverside will be incorporated into the memorial in Smithtown.

County officials will mark the beginning of the COVID-19 memorial project with a ceremony today at 1 p.m. at the William H. Rogers building, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Smithtown.

The memorial will be on display throughout the month of March, Suffolk County Legislature presiding officer Rob Calarco said.

“The County of Suffolk offers its deepest condolences to all who are grieving the loss of a loved one to COVID-19, a time made all the more difficult by an inability to mourn in traditional ways,” Calarco said.

Suffolk County reported its first two deaths from the novel coronavirus last March 16: a man in his 80s who died at St. Catherine’s Hospital in Smithtown and a man in his 90s at Huntington Hospital. On that date, there were 74 confirmed cases of the virus in Suffolk, including one in Riverhead Town, which was also reported on March 16.

As of Feb. 27, 3,076 Suffolk residents have died of COVID-19, according to the New York State Health Department. Fifty-three percent of the fatalities — 1,636 people — were residents in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other adult homes for the elderly, according to state data.

So far, there have been 155,240 confirmed cases of the virus in Suffolk and 3,021 confirmed cases in Riverhead Town.

The actual number of infections is likely far greater. Epidemiological researchers in the U.S. and Italy found that for every confirmed case, there were four or five undetected cases because infected individuals were not tested. Tests were not readily available in the early days of the pandemic in the U.S. Also, people infected with COVID-19 do not seek tests when available because they are asymptomatic or experience only mild symptoms,

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.