Texas is among several U.S. states requesting refrigerated trucks as morgues reach capacity

Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Police responded to a report of human bodies in vehicles, which they determined were connected to the nearby funeral home. The New York Police Department notified the state Department of Health, which oversees funeral homes. The coronavirus pandemic has overrun most funeral homes and morgues in New York City. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) (Craig Ruttle, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Texas, Arizona and Florida are requesting several refrigerated trucks to store bodies in order to take the pressure off funeral homes and morgues, NBC News reported.

There has been a sharp uptick in coronavirus-related deaths in southern and western U.S. states, leading to overcrowding in morgues and funeral homes, NBC News reported.

With states like Texas and Florida breaking daily COVID-19 case records each day, scientists say this may not last, as coronavirus deaths are recorded several weeks after a person is infected.

“That’s why we’re asking people to wear face masks,” Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales told KRIS and Texas Tribune, “I am now having to order additional body bags and morgue trailers. People have to understand how real it is.”

Houston, one of the cities hard hit by coronavirus cases, is facing a similar path as New York. According to the Texas Tribune, Houston residents are dying at home before they make it to a hospital, and hospitals are now counting for trucks to expand their morgue capacity.

The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office said they are dealing with issues involving heat as well, among other accommodations they have to make including wearing PPE to scenes.

“We had to modify the number of people going down to the morgue and the number of people in the autopsy suite at any one time so that we could reduce the amount of PPE we were using,” said Dr. Pramad Gumpeni, assistant deputy chief medical examiner. “We also instituted social distancing in the office. We removed group meetings—everything shifted immediately to online—and we’ve reduced interactions, we wear face masks, and we also have implemented temperature checks.”

Galveston County’s medical examiner’s office said they made changes as well.

“Our office has adapted and changed our existing protocols to conform to UTMB COVID protocol. We restrict when and who may enter the office. Masks are worn at all times by everyone in the building, including employees,” Chief Investigator, DJ Florence, said.

About the Author:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 2, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.