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In New York City, people in protective gear were seen loading what appeared to be bodies onto refrigerated trucks serving as makeshift morgues, according to photos and videos circulating on social media.
New York City, currently the nation’s epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak with more than 33,000 cases and 776 deaths, recently ordered 45 trailer-trucks to hold bodies in the event that hospitals and city morgues became overwhelmed with the dead, according to Bloomberg News. By this weekend, the trailers were apparently in use.
One video of a truck apparently outside a Brooklyn hospital, which started as a Facebook Live post and began circulating Sunday, showed several workers in protective gear surrounding a small forklift transferring what appear to be bodies into a white truck. The hospital couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“This is for real, this is Brooklyn, y’all,” the person recording the footage says in the video. “Family, y’all take it serious.” John Lee, the person who posted the Facebook Live, did not respond to VICE News request for comment.
At a Manhattan hospital, a registered ER nurse spotted one of the trucks Sunday morning, opened the latch, and walked inside to snap a photo of deceased people, covered and lined end-to-end across the truck bed. He then sent it to BuzzFeed News.
The city hasn’t taken drastic measures to create a fleet of makeshift morgues since 9/11, according to CNN, but the new morgues upped the city’s capacity for the dead by up to 3,600 bodies. Each truck can hold as many as 44 bodies, according to Bloomberg News. Pop-up tent morgues have also been erected outside some hospitals in the city.
Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, told Bloomberg News last week that the trucks would be strategically placed near hospitals “to prepare for the worst-case scenario.” (The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner could not immediately be reached for a VICE News request for comment.) “We very much hope we don’t need them,” she said.
Milena Mikael-Debass contributed to this report.
Cover: Screenshot via Facebook