LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With Los Angeles County now exceeding 11,000 COVID-19 deaths, another critical resource is in low supply — morgue space to hold bodies.
The grim milestone has forced the state's Office of Emergency Services to activate its multi-fatality management plan and distribute 88 refrigerated trailers to serve as temporary morgues. Ten of the 53-foot mobile morgues have been set up outside the Los Angeles County Coroner's building, while others are being sent to locations in San Bernardino, Imperial, Sonoma and Monterey counties.
The surge that has already inundated Southern California hospitals has resulted in an increasing number of deaths, and county coroners have been forced to hold on to the bodies until they can be sent to mortuaries – which have also been overwhelmed – for a proper burial.
"We can ensure we don't get large backups, or, if we do have backups, they're dealt with respect and dignity," Mark Ghilarducci, director of Cal OES, said in a statement. "That we have the appropriate equipment in place or materials that are required for coroners and medical examiners to effectively deal with the decedents."
The trailers have not been designed to be used as morgues, so Cal OES is providing shelving to double each trailer's capacity. Cal OES is also distributing body bags and the necessary protective equipment for personnel to handle the bodies.
Another 78 refrigerated trailers have been donated by the Hub Group, an Illinois-based company, that will also be distributed by Cal OES.
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