Queens mural of doctor who died of COVID pays tribute to immigrant health care workers

Eyes are on Flushing MeadowsCorona Park where the artist Jorge Gerada is bringing Dr. Ydelfonso Decoo back to life. The Queens pediatrician died of COVID-19 while serving on the frontlines. His death has left a void far larger than the 20,000-square-foot memorial Gerada is painting.

"I wanted to give homage to this doctor, who's an immigrant doctor, who was about to retire and he wouldn't stop working because he cared," Gerada said. "I've always done work around the world that brings attention to things that need more attention." 

In this case, it is the plight of immigrant and first-generation front-liners who work tirelessly in the communities they serve.

"When I finally get this man's gaze for everyone to see, we'll be able to actually have a memorial to all of the lives lost, an example of many," Gerada said.

Gerada began the mural this week. He has already cleared four Home Depots of the paint he is using.

He gained international fame with a massive portrait of Barack Obama in 2008 and a portrait on the national mall in 2014.

Now we turn to Queens.

"Statistics are an awful thing because most people just think about numbers and they don't bring that into actual lives lost," Gerada said. "People in families who are now mourning--each number in a large-scale number is a tragedy."

No one knows how long the mural will last or if there's a way to immortalize it. When asked how Dr. Decoo would respond to this, Gerada said he wasn't sure but he hoped families of those who have died during this crisis see it as a gift.