New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
and Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Even before we think of protecting ourselves, we monitor our nearest and dearest closely, praying that they will not be touched by COVID-19, to which at least 8,400 people in the U.S. have lost their lives. Worldwide, there were over 1.2 million confirmed cases of the virus and 65,000 deaths.
Governments around the world race to stem the progress of the new virus for which there is not yet a vaccine or therapeutic treatment. In the meantime, carried by asymptomatic individuals and those who have mild undiagnosed symptoms, the virus continues to be passed on to those in higher-risk categories.
Deep mourning in our Greek American community follows the sudden, disastrous loss of beloved family members and friends to COVID-19. Until Friday there were nine confirmed deaths of Greek Americans. In their Blessed Memory, we list some who have lost their lives in the coronavirus attack.
Musician Stephen B. Antonakos (Ebeneezer Smith), 62, New York City bar band guitar legend aka Homeboy Steve, of Dirty Water Dogs NYC (among many others bands) and son of NYC neon artist Stephen Antonakos. A victim of Covid-19.
The founder and president of the U.S. Hellenic Shooting, Fishing and Hunting Federation, Steven Manners (Στυλιανός Μανής), 76, lost his life to the virus on Tuesday night, March 31, 2020, in the ICU of the NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn.
From the community of St. Demetrios in Merrick, Long Island:
Archon Despotatos of the Ecumenichal Patriarchate and World War II veteran George Possas, 93, the first reported victim of the community, succumbed to the coronavirus recently. Two of his daughters and a son-in-law also contracted COVID-19 according to NBC New York. He died alone, as his family were all under quarantine.
Abraham Jimmy Kaltsas, former president of the Drama Association AGHIA VARVARA, passed away from coronavirus on March 23, as did two more individuals from Crete who passed away within 24 hours of each other, Andreas Koutsoudakis, 59, on March 27, and Stelios Volikakis, 70, on March 28. Barbara Koutsoudakis and Eugenia Volikakis, who both tested positive, with mild symptoms, are under quarantine.
Lou Kouvaris, 66, well-known guitarist and founder of the band Riot, contracted the virus, was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Long Island on March 20 and died on March 28. He had been suffering from symptoms similar to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, but no cause of death was stated.
Both Constantine Pliotas,76, from Dokimi, Agrinio, and Errikos Skiadopoulos of Bayside died on March 27. The Cretan community has begun fundraising through a GoFundMe campaign.
Stilianos Volikakis, 71, passed away on Saturday morning, March 28, in the Intensive Care Unit of of the NYU Health Brooklyn, where he was admitted on March 21 with COVID-19 symptoms. Costas Volikakis, his son, opened a www.gofundme.com account yesterday, Saturday and hours after his father’s death to raise money to cover hospitalization and funeral expenses
On April 1, His Grace, Meteropolitan Savas, mourned “the falling asleep in the Lord of the servant of God, George Culetsu, beloved husband of Irene Magiassos Culetsu, of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Warren, OH. “Please remember them in your prayers. May God grant George rest with the righteous, and may his memory be eternal!” Mr. Culetsu, who was to celebrate his 67th birthday on April 3, was diagnosed with COVID-19 a week ago and his wife and their sons are quarantined at home. His family says they believe they got the virus through community spread and urge everyone to follow the advice of health officials and stay home to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
May their memory be eternal.
AT LEAST 6 GET THE VIRUS
AT PRIEST’S ORDINATION
Several Greek Americans are hospitalized in critical condition fighting for their lives. Among them is Fr. Christos Pappas, of Church of the Ascension in Fairview, New Jersey who has been hospitalized since Monday, March 30. Fr. Christos was among about 20 people present at the ordination to priesthood of Fr. George Kazoulis, by Archbishop Elpidophoros, at the Church of Kimisis in Brooklyn, on Saturday, March 21. At least six of those present at the ordination have fallen ill, with Fr. George – and his wife – also going to the hospital with symptoms of the virus. They were given medication and sent home
The priests of the Transfiguration of our Savior in Mattituck, Long Island and the St. Sophia in Albany were also find positive.
Despite the restrictive measures and the strict instructions of the authorities and the Holy Archdiocese itself, Archbishop Elpidophoros performed four ordinations between March 15-25, in the presence of clergy and family members and friends. Approximately 20 people attended each ceremony, while federal, state and local authorities ordered to avoid gatherings larger than ten people.
On Sunday, Archbishop Elpidophoros – who is in good health – planned to officiate at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen in Brooklyn.
In an open letter to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidoforos, Archon Peter Vlitas, a member of the Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Brooklyn, said:
“I applaud his Eminence leadership in such difficult and critical times. Under your leadership we have seen fast and critical decisions made for the safety of your flock and its clergy.
As we are now enter into the steepest clime to what as the Governor and President warn will be the worst two weeks I implore for the safety of our shepherd that his Eminence refrains from visiting other parishes not only are you at risk but the risk of those around you.
Why risk the leadership of the Faith of America for empty churches. We would all sleep better at night knowing you are in command at the Archdiocese and broadcasting live from the Chapel.”
AT THE PARISHES
Fr. John Lardas of the Church of Archangel Michael at Port Washington, told the Greek News that there are 7-10 cases from parishioners, some of them hospitalized.
“We cannot visit them because of the measures, but we pray for them over the phone”, Fr. John said.
The church continues to have liturgies behind closed doors, but they are broadcasted from the parish’s Facebook page.
There were 12 cases among the parishioners of St Demetrios in Merrick, two of them remain hospitalized and the rest were released at home.
Rev. Nikiforos Fakinos told the Greek News that one of the two hospitalized is in critical condition.
“There is always a possibility for a miracle”, he told the Greek News.
Fr. Nikiforos described the conditions at the hospitals in New York very difficult.
The parish of Merrick already mourns two victims of the Coronavirus, the kitharist Lou Kouvaris and past president Eric Skiadopoulos.
Fr. Demetrios Kazakes of St. Nicholas in West Babylon said that there are about twenty parishioners hospitalized, two of them in serious condition.
“I call them every day”, he said.
The parish makes collection of money for gift cards that are offered to members with needs. In addition the liturgies are broadcasted in Facebook.
Recently Fr. Demetrios performed the funeral of an old lady from New Jew Jersey who lost her life from the Coronavirus at a Long Island Hospital. The funeral took place at the church’s parking lot.
Fr. Panteleimon Papadopoulos from the Church of Resurresction in Brookville told the Greek News that he is trying to communicate daily with his parishioners. His inspired and loving messages are comforting people and easing their fears.
There were two Coronavirus cases. Two of them are already were and the other four at home. The liturgies are broadcasted on the parish’s Facebook page.-
A member of the Philoptochos passed away to the Coronavirus at the church of Holy Cross in Whitestone. The income of the parish went down and Fr. George Anastasiou told the Greek News that they intend to apply for federal assistance through the Cares Act.