The coronavirus pandemic has caused so many deaths that it has become increasingly difficult to expect normal processes in taking care of bodies when loved ones pass away. The number of related deaths has caused such a strain on the system that some state officials have to be using alternative means to store bodies. Currently, a post-Christmas surge in coronavirus deaths means some hospital morgues and private mortuaries have completely run out of storage space.
For instance, the situation has become so bad in Los Angeles County that the National guard was called to assist. The county has recorded almost 1,600 deaths since Dec. 30. With the lack of availability at morgues, they decided to temporarily store bodies in refrigerated trailers at the county medical examiner-coroner’s office. They are not the only ones to be using refrigerated units as a solution.
Sacramento and South Carolina have been affected in a similar way. Also, In December, the medical examiner’s office in Tarrant County, Texas, started using two large, refrigerated trailers to store bodies. The county has recorded more than 1,500 deaths since the pandemic started.
The U.S. is not the only country facing the issue of past-capacity morgues. At least one county in Southern England is having the same problem. The morgues are at capacity and bodies have to be stored at other temporary facilities. In Meissen county, Germany, hundreds of bodies wait to be cremated causing an already tense situation to be even worse.
The universality of the problem underscores just how big of a toll the coronavirus pandemic has had on the world. Both the living and the dead share in the restrictions and constraints caused by the pandemic.
Despite the unique circumstances, the officials are trying to preserve the dignity of families and their loved ones as best as possible. In the context of the pandemic, families certainly have enough to deal with rather than to be worried about the bodies of their deceased loved ones. Although they are being stored in a non-traditional way, state officials still try to ensure they are not completely turned away instead.
It is surely not a situation anyone would have imagined happening. Bodies being stored in refrigerated units sound dystopian or post-apocalyptic outside the context we are now living in. In this present context, the refrigerated units are solving a problem officials would be hard pressed to address otherwise. The refrigerated trucks are suddenly on high demand and as Michael Murphy, a consultant serving as interim Clark County coroner, notes “They’re getting hard to come by.” Counties who do not own their own refrigeration units can look to businesses like Go Mini’s storage pods to rent or acquire the units they need. The sooner they do so, the better prepared they will be to stave off any possible drastic turns in the pandemic.