The grim place New York City authorities may be forced to bury coronavirus victims

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

New York City may be forced to bury bodies in local parks amid the surge in coronavirus deaths, one of the city’s lawmakers has warned.

Councilman Mark Levine took to Twitter on Monday (local time), suggesting the city could start “temporary interment” soon as the death toll in the city alone rose to 3,495.

A temporary hospital set up in New York's Central Park. Source: Getty

“This likely will be done by using a NYC park for burials (yes you read that right). Trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line,” he wrote.

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“It will be done in a dignified, orderly–and temporary–manner. But it will be tough for NYers to take.”

Mr Levine, the city’s Council Health Committee chair, said the move would help the city avoid scenarios other countries including Italy faced where “military was forced to collect bodies from churches and even off the streets.”

In the small northern city of Lombardo, Italy’s COVID-19 epicentre, up to 70 bodies were removed daily by army trucks and taken to other areas of Italy as the city’s morgues struggled to cope with the influx of bodies.

“Nothing matters more in this crisis than saving the living. But we need to face the gruesome reality that we need more resources to manage our dead as well,” Mr Levine added.

A view of an ambulance right outside a temporary hospital in Central Park. Source: Getty

He later moved to clarify his comments following widespread attention, stressing if the death rate drops enough such action wouldn’t be necessary.

When pressed on the matter hours later New York mayor Bill de Blasio, said the city “may well be dealing with temporary burials” but said he wouldn’t go into detail.

When asked about it in his daily briefing, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said he was “unaware of such wild rumours”.

“I have not heard anything about the city burying people in parks,” he said.

New York has become the focal point of the virus outbreak in the US.

However, the steep rise in deaths in the city appears to be levelling off in a possible sign that social distancing is working.

The number of cases in New York State stands at 130,689 confirmed infections.

Governor Cuomo warned this afternoon it was no time to relax the restrictions aimed at keeping people from getting too close to one another, and he ordered bigger fines against violators.

“The numbers look like it may be turning. ‘Yay, it’s over!’ No, it’s not. And other places have made that mistake,” he said as deaths in the US climbed past 10,000, with around 350,000 confirmed infections.

Donald Trump said on Monday the US was “starting to see light at the end of the tunnel”.

- with Yahoo UK

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