Empire State Building celebrates emergency workers with controversial tribute

TORONTO — On Monday night, one of New York City’s most recognizable skyscrapers paid a special tribute to health-care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a show of support for doctors, nurses and first responders, a red light simulating an ambulance siren shone from the Empire State Building’s iconic pinnacle.

The show of lights serves as a visual reminder of the state of emergency the city – along with most of the world – finds itself in.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency on March 12 after the city reached 95 confirmed coronavirus cases. The city has since become the epicentre of the virus in North America, with more than 40,000 confirmed cases.

A social media post by the Empire State Building’s officials depicts the glowing red and white spire as a pillar of the metropolitan skyline.

“Starting tonight through the COVID-19 battle, our signature white lights will be replaced by the heartbeat of America with a white and red siren in the mast for heroic emergency workers on the front line of the fight,” the post reads.

The public response has been mixed, with many taking to social media to share their thoughts. For some, the light show is a beautiful gesture of thanks, but for others it stands as a bleak reminder of the current state of affairs.

Others are taking a humorous approach, making dystopian pop-culture references.

As the number of confirmed cases in NYC continues to climb, we can expect the display to remain for the foreseeable future.