Merdeka.com – When New York emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, the city began storing the bodies of Covid-19 victims in refrigerated trucks along the Brooklyn waterfront.
More than a year later, hundreds of bodies are still in the mobile morgue at 39th Street Pier in Sunset Park.
In a report to the city council’s health committee last week, officials at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City admitted that around 750 bodies of the Covid-19 victims were still stored in the truck. Officials said during a committee meeting on Wednesday they would try to reduce the numbers immediately.
The deputy executive commissioner of the medical examiner’s office, Dina Maniotis, said most of the bodies could end up on Hart Island, off the coast of the Bronx, where the city government is burying poor people and bodies their families have not taken for more than a century.
“We will continue to work with families,” Maniotis explained to the health committee according to the New York City website.
“As soon as the family told us they wanted their family to be moved to Hart Island, we did it fast,” he continued.
According to an analysis carried out through the collaboration of New York City and the Columbia University School of Journalism’s Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting, one to 10 coronavirus victims in the city could be buried on the island. The analysis reveals that at least 2,334 adults were buried on the island in 2020, double the 2019 figure.
In March and April last year, New York City was among the regions hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The medical examiner’s office, which handles 20 deaths daily, is flooded with 200 deaths per day, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Between 500 and 800 bodies have been stored in refrigerated cars since April 2020, according to estimates compiled by the New York City government and the Stabile Center.
Maniotis told the health commission many of the victims’ families whose bodies were still in the car said they chose a burial on Hart Island. In some cases, he said, the city government lost contact with the victims’ families.
The refrigerated trucks, which include 85 delivered to the city government by the Fedeal Emergency Management Agency, were parked outside the hospital during the pandemic’s worst days in the city, in one of the clearest signs of the high death toll. [pan]