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COVID Surge: Sonoma County Prepares For Worst With 'Mobile Morgue' Trailer

SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) -- As deaths from COVID-19 have hit a new record of 4,000 a day in the United States Friday, Sonoma County is preparing for a possible increase in coronavirus casualties.

In the past week alone, there were 22 new deaths in Sonoma County attributed to COVID-19. That is more than twice the fatalities compared to the last surge over the summer when the average death toll for a week was 10 people.

Last weekend, a refrigerated trailer from the California Office of Emergency Services was delivered to the coroner's office. County officials are hopeful they won't have to use the so-called "mobile morgue," but it is available if things get more dire in Sonoma and the surrounding North Bay counties.

"In reality. it is a gut check to anybody and everybody in the county that this thing is serious. And we just want people to regulate themselves," Juan Valencia of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office told KPIX 5.

The county morgue has room for 35 bodies. The trailer has room for 56 more.

"Basically you walk in and there are rows on each side where you can hold bodies," Valencia said.

The possibility of rapidly accumulating deaths is not out of the question, especially with intensive care units around the Bay Area filling up.

"I would be really surprised if we don't see the numbers just climb over the next several weeks," said Dr. Roshni Mathew, Stanford pediatric infectious disease specialist.

She told KPIX 5 the current spike in cases and deaths we're seeing now is still from Thanksgiving.

"My concern is we are yet to see what is going to happen with the more recent holiday, the Christmas/New Year break that everybody had. My worry is we are going to see another spike in a little while," said Mathew.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said the refrigerated trailer would also be used to store bodies of COVID victims from other areas of the North Bay as need.

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