In the first wave of Covid, the swarm of bodies overwhelmed New York’s ability to deal with the dead. Now the city is prepared for a second attack

At the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal earlier this month, a sign reading “Undertaker” indicated to the left of a huge warehouse just beyond the guard gate in the black-tarred parking lot was a row of 53-foot refrigerated trailers, about 20 feet total past the fashionable furniture stores of Industry City and next to a crumbling pier building, the facility was quiet

New York officials believe this little-known site will help them avoid repeating one of the most shocking tragedies of the first wave of Covid-19: the destruction of bodies that overwhelmed the city’s ability to deal with the dead

The pier warehouses held about 570 bodies earlier this month, most of which had been frozen for months and room for hundreds more

As the virus rises across the country, states and cities have ordered or used refrigerated trailers to exceed morgue capacity after looking at the New York example in the spring of Texas, 10 trailers were shipped to El Paso in early November California has Gov Gavin Newsom recently announced that the state has 60 refrigerated trailers available as makeshift morgues

But no other city seems to have had such a severe wave of death that the bodies had to be held for months

New York City saw a harrowing wave of deaths as it became the global epicenter of the virus in the spring Between the 14th March and 18 June turned 17507 virus deaths confirmed At the height of the pandemic in early April, around 800 people died in a single day

More than 135 refrigerated trailers have been used on the streets around hospitals, making it one of the most persistent images of the city crisis, but that wasn’t enough shelves were set up in the trailers, doubling their capacity as funeral homes ran out of storage in cemeteries and crematoria could not take the cargo

A Brooklyn hospital lifted corpses wrapped in a forklift into its morgue trailer, and a funeral home was caught storing dozens of corrosive corpses in two U-Haul trucks and its visiting rooms

To reduce the backlog, the doctor’s office buried dozens of unclaimed bodies on Hart Island, the pottery field, in early April.Some weeks later, the huge waterfront warehouse in South Brooklyn was converted into a long-term freezer store for the dead, leaving overwhelmed families for months could forego the recovery of bodies before a funeral on Hart Island was considered

“What you came up with, these long-term storage freezer containers, I think will be the new expectation,” said John Fudenberg, executive director of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners and former Coroner of Las Vegas. “You did it , they have proven that it works and I think it will be the wave of the future because it is much more socially acceptable and sensitive than temporary burials””

How to find a safe place to hold hundreds of bodies for long distances was one of the hardest lessons in the first wave of the crisis, having the hospitals, funeral home and the city medical examiner’s office as the second wave of Covid consider -19 growing in New York

Last week officials said that public hospitals in the city had canceled elective operations to save space for the growing number of Covid patients. The city’s Covid-19 deaths are currently averaging 35 per day, compared with an average of less than 10 per day in early November

A recurrence as severe as spring seems unlikely for the time being, given improved care and the arrival of vaccine, the coroner and hospital officials said recently, according to the Greater New York Hospital Association, which is tracking the data their internal morgues, in which an average of 15 corpses are housed, 25 percent full in mid-December. Funeral directors have not yet reported any residues

“In planning, we are always prepared for the worst and I am confident that we are ready for it,” said Dr Barbara Sampson, the city’s chief medical officer “But I expect we won’t be where we were in the spring I hope so with all my heart”

Typically around 150 people die a day in the city every day, so adding an additional 100 deaths a day from Covid-19 will likely weigh on the system, several funeral directors said

“There’s only a real sense of fear, that kind of Pall hangs over us,” Patrick J said Kearns, who runs three funeral homes in Queens and one on Long Island and has kept his own refrigerated trailer after the first wave just in case, “We spent a lot of time getting supplies and setting up facilities. The position we are now in is a kind of anticipation ”

In the past few months, the city has required every hospital to rewrite its death management plans, and appoint morgue staff, parking lots for several 53-foot trailers, and teams for paperwork and family counseling some hospitals have prefabricated ramps for access to the trailers, 100 of which are now waiting in depots The coroner has distributed thousands of high-performance body bags

But the facility that makes the biggest difference in mass losses, Dr Sampson and others said it was the naval terminal, an urban concrete surface at the end of 39 Street in Sunset Park

After Sept. In eleven attacks, the city’s chief physician’s office searched rubble for human remains in the pier’s warehouses.This time, with the support of the federal government, the forensic doctor opened the site on May 14 April as a temporary hospital mortuary morgue days after announcing it would stop the temporary burial of unclaimed corpses on Hart Island

Film footage of drones from mass graves excavated on the island in early April had shocked the city. Families fearful of this fate begged hospitals to hold the bodies longer, which increased the rush there, hospital officials said

On 28 April the city opened the long-term freezer store on Brooklyn Pier, where at least 1500 bodies can be accommodated (the city declined to provide an exact capacity)

“That was a real game changer,” said Jenna Mandel-Ricci, co-author of a Greater New York Hospital Association report on death management that documented lessons learned during the crisis. “I hope we don’t needing but knowing that it is there and that it is part of the framework that was created is incredibly comforting ”

At the height of the crisis, federal disaster relief workers and the New York National Guard helped process and store thousands of bodies in Disaster Morgue 4, as the marine terminal was named. By the end of May, the pier had a total of 2137 bodies – 1468 in long-term storage and 669 in refrigerated trailers, said the doctor’s office with

As of Dec The city’s facility at the naval terminal had 529 bodies in long-term storage and 40 in refrigerated trailers (The Wall Street Journal first reported that bodies were still being held at the facility)

The city has no time limit on how long a corpse can stay there as long as there are family talks about a final resting place The service is free, Dr Sampson said

She said those long-term storage there in December were a mix of Covid-19 and non-Covid deaths that have continued to arrive at the terminal since May The website, she said, is offloading the regular morgues of hers Offices that can accommodate 900 bodies and provides funeral directors a central location to find remains

The Hart Island funerals haven’t stopped though: This year, according to the City of Justice Department, 2nd225 adults buried in the city cemetery there, most of them for decades. Now burials are taking place there either at the request of the family or because the bodies were not identified or claimed after an examination of about two months, the coroner said

Officials have made adjustments based on what they learned in the spring. During the first wave, shelves were placed in hospital trailers to double their storage capacity, but they were unstable and threatened to collapse if the trailers were moved As a result, the city sent National Guard strike teams and medical examiners to hospitals to attack more than 2Collect 000 bodies and bring them to the pier

This time around, the coroner has advised hospitals not to install shelves to allow trailers to be fully towed to the pier, which increases efficiency and reduces the chance the city will lose track of a corpse

“After what we’ve all been through with the loss of jobs and the loss of loved ones, the only thing that could make all of this worse is if the OC.M.E. or the funeral director got the wrong deceased, ”said Dr Sampson said “I’m not going to let this happen”

Frozen

World News – FI – Why 530 frozen bodies are sitting in a warehouse in Brooklyn

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/26/nyregion/frozen-bodies-coronavirus-brooklyn.html