Telethon raises $115M for New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19

Billy Joel in Times Square

The hour-long event, which was hosted by the 30 Rock star and featured appearances from Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Bon Jovi, Barbra Streisand and Alicia Keys, was held to benefit the Robin Hood organisation, with donations going towards support for "food, shelter, cash assistance, mental health, legal services and education" in NY, the US state hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

Robin Hood invests about $120 million annually to provide legal services, housing, meals, workforce development training and education programs to families in poverty in New York City. In addition to tonight's telethon, over $44 million of the funds were already raised through the Robin Hood Relief Fund and over $1.5 million has been raised through Robin Hood's "Relief Corps", including Gwyneth Paltrow, Karlie Kloss, Katie Couric and New York's sports teams, who launched GoFundMe fundraisers to engage their networks. You did this, we are difference makers.

"Is this real?" she asked producers, making sure it was. She sang while her backup singers and pianist performed on separate screens to the upbeat tune. Lopez introduced PS22 Chorus, a collection of NY elementary school students who sang Andra Day's "Rise Up".

The 50-year-old actress - who is engaged to retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez - said: "New York, I know your strength. We're gonna get through this, but we need to take care of all our neighbours".

Spike Lee shared encouraging words that sports would return someday soon.

Other musical performances included Sting's "Message in a Bottle" and Bon Jovi's "It's My Life".

Most people who contract the virus will display only mild symptoms, but it can be particularly fatal for the elderly and for individuals with pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and asthma.