“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” —Marcus Tullius Cicero
JASMIN Abella Jamero Layson’s dream of coming home alive to Iloilo City in the Philippines soon to be with her family has been dashed to pieces when she lost her battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in Queens around 5 o’clock in the afternoon on February 20 (US Eastern Time).
Layson, 67, former staff of former Iloilo City councilor Rolando Dabao, had been fighting for her life in the intensive care unit (ICU) for almost 24 days, according to another former Iloilo City hall employee Julie Potente, who is also based in New York City.
Layson, a resident of Dulonan, Arevalo district in Iloilo City and married to Ramesis, was scheduled to be cremated Sunday, February 21 (US Eastern Time).
Layson, a caregiver, and seven other Filipinos were reportedly infected with COVID-19 after attending a birthday party in Queens last month.
Three of them were in serious condition, sources said.
It was not immediately known what happened to Layson’s other friends.
She had been in the US since 2008.
Potente said it was Ray Sauter, a Texas-based husband of their fellow former city hall employee, Leocita Talanas-Sauter, who helped facilitate Layson’s cremation.
It was Leocita who volunteered to bring Layson’s ashes to the Philippines soon, Potente said.
The average cost of cremation with services handled through a funeral home is reportedly between $2,000 and $4,000, but if they were done
through a crematory, the costs would be between $1,500 and $3,000. Prices also vary locally and by state.
When a person has died from COVID-19 overseas, considerations for final disposition may include on-site cremation or internment at the location of death or repatriation of human or cremated remains to the State requested by the next-of-kin.
Meanwhile, other former city hall employees who are now US-based—Lynnette Espinosa-Baranda, Mayette Geremias, Cyleehn Gumban, Marie Tez Grande-Tulio, Elsie del Rosario, Suzette Dumaran, Jocelyn Cabaluna, Nieva Seruelo, Potente, and Talanas-Sauter—also helped arrange for Layson’s ashes to be brought to Iloilo City.
“We, all former (Iloilo) city hall employees who are now based in the US, had a reunion in 2018,” Potente revealed. “Sin-o pa abi ang mag binuligay kundi kita man lang.”
Ana Geroy alyas “Becbec”, the party host, also reportedly helped Layson during her hospitalization.
Leocita lamented that “my heart is broken” when she informed their friends and relatives over Layson’s passing.
“My promises to her and her family (sic) that I will do my best in God’s mercy to take care of her remain and bring her ashes back to Philippines soon (sic) i am allowed to travel,” Leocita wrote on Facebook.
Layson was among the 28,824 New York City residents who died of COVID-19 as of this writing, records show.
Her death came on the day Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s single-day COVID-19 positivity rate had dropped below three percent for the first time since November 23rd.
The governor said the state’s positivity rate is now 2.99 percent. More than 6,600 of Saturday’s 221,000 tests were positive.
COVID-19 hospitalizations stand at over 5,700, while 75 New Yorkers died on February 20 from the virus. The first case of the South African COVID-19 Variant, meanwhile, has been found in Nassau County.
The city’s coronavirus metrics, which measure the indicators on a different scale, showed a seven-day average positivity rate of 7.31 percent.
There were more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases and 234 new COVID-19 hospitalizations across New York City February 20.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)/WDJ.