Hundreds of Bodies Still Wait in Refrigerated Trucks

New York City is waiting to decide with families where to take remains of COVID-19 victims
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2021 6:40 PM CDT
More Than a Year Later, Bodies Remain in Refrigerated Trucks
The Statue of Liberty is visible Thursday beyond refrigerator trucks used for storing bodies at the 39th Street Piet in Brooklyn, New York.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

The bodies of hundreds of COVID-19 victims remain in parked refrigerated trucks in New York City awaiting burial—a temporary move made more than a year ago when morgues were overwhelmed by the pandemic. Officials from the medical examiner's office said last week that they're giving the victims' families time to make arrangements and don't yet know when the bodies will be removed, People reports. The number of bodies stored in the trucks has fluctuated between 500 and 800 over the past year; there are 750 there now, at Brooklyn's 39th Street Pier in Sunset Park. The information was reported under a collaborative journalism project involving the City website and the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University.

Most of the bodies could be destined for Hart Island off the Bronx, where the city buries unclaimed bodies and those of the poor, per the Washington Post. At least 2,334 adults were buried on the island last year, twice as many as the year before, an analysis showed. As many as 10% of New York's COVID-19 victims could be buried on Hart Island. Most of the families have chosen burial there, an official said, but the city has lost contact with some of the families. During the worst of the pandemic in the city, the refrigerated trucks sat outside New York hospitals, a constant reminder of COVID-19's toll. The number of people who have died in the city of the disease since the pandemic started has topped 32,000. (More coronavirus stories.)

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