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Hundreds of bodies of New York’s Spring Covid victims still in freezer trucks

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More than six months after the deadly coronavirus outbreak in New York City, hundreds of bodies are still stored in freezer trucks on the Brooklyn waterfront, The Wall Street Journal first reported On Sunday, a demonstration of how unprepared the country’s systems were to handle this deadly pandemic.

Highlights

According to the report, around 650 bodies are still stored in freezer trucks in a morgue that install on a Sunset Park pier in April.

Many bodies are from people who could not afford a proper burial or whose families could not be traced, according to the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City.

The chief medical examiner’s office, which has 15 forensic investigation staff tasked with identifying the bodies, was unprepared for the demands of the unprecedented and unexpected coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal found.

Equipped to handle 20 deaths per day, the number of deaths added to its workload rose to around 200 per day at the height of the Covid-19 epidemic in New York City.

Due to the resulting delays, some families found out weeks or months after a loved one had passed away and was awaiting recovery, according to the WSJ.

Covid-19 also made it difficult to find family members, who the medical examiners’ office said could not be located repeatedly because they themselves had died from the virus.

Key context

Before the pandemic, many unclaimed bodies were believed to have been buried on Hart Island, located in the northeastern Bronx in New York City. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio banned mass burials after reported the city planned to use temporary graves on the island.

Large number

24.202. That’s how many died from Covid-19 in New York City. The majority of these deaths occurred in late March, April and early May.

Further reading

NYC Dead Stay in Freezer Trucks Set Up During Covid-19 Spring Surge (The Wall Street Journal)

New York City could temporarily bury dead in potters’ field as coronavirus wreaks havoc (The Wall Street Journal)

Comprehensive coverage and live updates on the coronavirus

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