FEMA sends 85 refrigerated trucks to New York City to hold bodies
FEMA is sending 85 refrigerated trucks to New York City to serve as temporary morgues as the death toll from the coronavirus grows.
There is a “desperate need” for morgue space in Queens in particular, FEMA regional administrator Thomas Von Essen said Monday.
The borough has the most coronavirus cases in the city, and Elmhurst hospital has been swamped with gravely ill patients.
“We are going to have an awful lot of folks that aren’t going to make it,” Von Essen said at a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio, as they welcomed the hospital ship USNS Comfort to the city.
As of Monday morning, 790 people have died in the city from the coronavirus. There are 36,221 confirmed cases.
“We are sending refrigeration trucks to New York to help with some of the problem on a temporary basis,” Von Essen said Monday. “We in New York City have a desperate need for help over in Queens, and we’re working on that as we speak.”
The military has sent 42 personnel to the Manhattan medical examiner’s office to pitch in on the effort, he said.
A makeshift morgue has already been erected in a tent near Bellevue hospital.
But Von Essen, a former FDNY commissioner, ruled out having to turn public arenas like Madison Square Garden into makeshift morgues. “Fortunately we’re not thinking of anything like that,” he said.
He said authorities are working on sending more military teams to New York to assist with the mounting number of bodies, while also aiding other locations around the country whose morgues may also be strapped.
“It’s difficult, but everybody’s trying, and we will get more help here for New York,” he said.
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