- Since the start of the pandemic, more than 30,000 people have died of COVID in New York City.
- Last year, refrigerated trucks were sent to hospitals in the city to serve as a temporary resting place for the bodies of the victims.
- Fourteen months after the start of the pandemic, hundreds of bodies are still sitting in refrigerated trucks.
A year after NYC was overwhelmed with dying COVID patients, refrigerated trucks that were used as temporary morgues are still holding about 750 bodies of victims.
According to Dina Maniotis, a deputy commissioner with the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, they are waiting for the families to sort out funeral plans, as reported by the nonprofit news organization The City.
Maniotis said that they quickly transfer bodies to Hart Island, in the Bronx, as soon as the family says that they want their loved one transferred there. Hart Island has been the resting place for poor or unattended bodies for more than a century.
The bodies of the COVID-19 victims have been held by the city since last April when hospitals were overwhelmed with cases and thousands of deaths. According to news organization The City, the refrigerated trucks held between 500 and 800 bodies at any time throughout the last year.
While the city has been slowly moving some of the bodies to Hart Island with the approval of the victims’ families, Maniotis said they’ve lost contact with some families.
Mark Desire, a spokesperson for the medical examiner’s office, told the Associated Press last week that they continue to work with families on a case-by-case basis with due respect to their period of mourning.
Last year, 85 trucks were sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to New York City to sit outside hospitals that were struggling to keep up with the number of COVID-19 deaths. The trucks are now in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood.
After more than a year and with millions of NYC residents getting the vaccine, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the city have dropped significantly. In April 2020, around 750 people were dying from COVID each day. According to New York Times, that number has now dropped to around 30, and around 1,000 cases a day. Since the start of the pandemic, at least 32,836 COVID-19 victims have died in New York City.