From the In My Backyard Desk, here’s a powerful and painful reminder of the toll the pandemic has taken in my corner of the world. It’s look at one Catholic parish in Queens that lost more than 100 parishioners to the virus.

From the AP: 

For nearly two decades, Juan Tapia, head of maintenance at Our Lady of Sorrows, has taken pride in the upkeep of the Roman Catholic church he considers his second home. But in recent months, he’s made it his mission to scrub every corner.

“The experience of all those deaths we had to live through makes me want to do my job with great care, because I don’t want anyone to get infected,” said Tapia, who sometimes wears a hazmat suit to sanitize the pews between services.

More than 100 congregants of the parish in the mostly Latino Corona neighborhood of Queens died of COVID-19, many of them in the early days of the pandemic. And Tapia’s family was not spared.

Tapia’s son, Juan Jr., had worked with him at the church. The son was diagnosed with lung cancer before he contracted the virus that infected the whole family; he died on May 6, the anniversary of his baptism more than 20 years before. He was 27 years old.

“No family should have to go through this,” said his father.

Read more. 

Watch a video about Our Lady of Sorrows and the pandemic below.