Struggling to keep up with the coronavirus death toll, a funeral home used moving trucks to store bodies in the worst-hit city in the world.
More than 18,000 people have died in New York City, making it by far the worst affected city in the United States, which now has more COVID-19 deaths than any other country.
Struggling to deal with the death toll, Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services has been using U-Haul trucks to store bodies on ice.
Officials from the New York City Health Department, which oversees funeral homes, told NBC News more than 50 bodies were found in four trucks outside the funeral home over the past few days.
Some of the trucks used to store the corpses were rental trucks, local media reported.
A neighbour tipped off the police after seeing liquid oozing out of the back of the trucks, NBC reported.
Officials also said the owner of the funeral home was issued two citations for failing to control odours, but the funeral home owner was not criminally charged.
The owner reportedly said he was trying to do his best to keep up with the influx of bodies amid the pandemic.
ABC 7 reported the funeral home owner indicated to officials his freezer had stopped working.
The home was able to obtain a larger, refrigerated truck later in the day, the official said, according to the Associated Press.
Borough President of Brooklyn Eric Adams took to Twitter, saying instances like this reinforced the “urgent need for reform in the handling of bodies and burial processes”.
“We demand decent treatment of our deceased,” he said.
Due to the risk of infection from the bodies being stored improperly, the New York Police Department was forced to close the street.
Workers suited up in protective gear could be seen in the afternoon transferring bodies into the refrigerated truck.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, New York has set up temporary morgues and hospitals have used refrigerated tractor trailers to cart away multiple bodies at a time, sometimes loading them in public view on the sidewalk.
Crematoriums have been backed up, funeral directors across the city have pleaded for help as they have run out of space.
The United States has reported more than one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the death toll is almost at 61,000, according to Johns Hopkins data.
- with Associated Press
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