California officials said Thursday they have deployed at least 166 refrigerated trailers to serve as temporary morgues in hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19-related deaths.
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With at least 2,500 deaths from the coronavirus every week, California has become one of the main hotbeds of the pandemic in the United States and traditional mortuaries are full.
Contaminations had started to multiply even before Thanksgiving family reunions at the end of November spread the coronavirus even further, and the most populous US state is now preparing for “an explosion after an explosion” of cases , fueled by the Christmas and New Years festivities.
Mark Ghilarducci, director of the emergency services of California, therefore activated the “plan for the management of mass deaths”, to ensure that all the deceased can be “treated with respect and dignity”.
As most refrigerated trailers are not specifically designed as mortuaries, they will be fitted out to at least double their body storage capacity.
Members of the National Guard were also dispatched this week to assist forensic services in Los Angeles, where one person dies from Covid-19 every fifteen minutes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, funeral directors are forced to turn away grieving families because they no longer have the capacity to care for the deceased.
Most counties in California, including Los Angeles – where ambulances often turn for hours before finding a bed for their patient – have restrictive measures in place that limit travel and activities.