Greek-American Community in Queens Struck by Coronavirus

Αssociated press

FILE- A funeral director and a Wycoff Heights Medical Center, employee transport a body, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK – The list of losses in the Greek-American community due to the coronavirus keeps growing and The National Herald is aware of more who are on ventilators or in comas. Two more Greek-Americans from the community of St. Demetrios in Merrick, Long Island, have died of the coronavirus, Lou Kouvaris, 66, a well-known guitarist and founder of the band Riot, and Errikos Skiadopoulos and Constantine Pliotas, of Bayside died on March 27.

Two members of the Cretan commmunity also passed away within 24 hours of one another, Andreas Koutsoudakis, 59, on March 27, and Stelios Volikakis, 70, on March 28.

Kouvaris contracted the virus and was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Long Island on March 20. Following George Possas, the first reported victim of the St. Demetrios community, former president of the Draminon Association, Abraham Kaltsas passed away from coronavirus.

According to Father Nikiforos Fakinos, the presiding priest of the community of St. Demetrios, “the deterioration of his health [Lou Kouvaris’] was rapid. He did not come to and died unfortunately on Saturday morning."

His son, Alex Kouvaris, lives and works in Boston. The funeral is expected to take place at the end of the week with only close family due to the coronavirus measures.

Fr. Fakinos points out that other members of the Saint Demetrios community have been infected with coronavirus, most, fortunately, with mild symptoms. "I know entire families who have been infected and who spend the entire time at home. A total of about 30 to 40 people. We as a community do everything we can to help anyone in need. The Philoptochos cooks and delivers food to those in need. One member is committed to helping twenty members of our community who are left without a job and are running out of money,” said Fr. Fakinos.

Because Pliotas had no fever the doctor told him to stay home. Family members who became infected overcame it, but the 76-year-old from Dokimi, Agrinio had heart problems. His daughter Ermione said, “one morning he told us he couldn't breathe. We lost him before the ambulance arrived.”

The Cretan celebration in Staten Island on March 7 seems to be the common denominator in the other deaths, as most people who attended the dinner dance were infected with the virus that night. It is estimated that the number of cases exceeds 40.

Some are hospitalized while many are quarantined at home. The wives of both men who died, Barbara Koutsoudakis and Eugenia Volikakis, were also infected with the virus, with milder symptoms.

The Cretan community, as it is mourning, have also begun fundraising through a GoFundMe campaign.