Vigo County orders semi-trailers to house bodies of people who die from COVID-19

Coronavirus

A hearse car backs into a refrigerated truck to pick up deceased bodies outside of the Brooklyn Hospital on April 1, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — The Vigo County Health Department is pleading with the community to take coronavirus precautions seriously after county officials announced they’ve rented four refrigerated semitrailers to store bodies of COVID-19 decedents.

With some funeral homes in the area already becoming “overrun with bodies,” health department administrator Joni Wise said there aren’t enough places to put them.

“We have to have some place for mass casualties to go and, this is one of those situations that is going to get worse before it gets better,” Wise said Thursday in a video statement.

Community spread of COVID-19 continues to increase in Vigo County, said County Commissioner Brendan Kearns. Gatherings at bars, restaurants and similar venues continue to be a main source of virus transmission.

“People are not wearing masks,” Kearns said in the video statement. “The hospitals are already pretty much at capacity … they’re busting at the seams … employees are stressed out. This is overwhelming the community.”

Although the county commission has the ability to put new restrictions in place and “shut the county down,” Kearns said, “we’re not going to do that.”

Instead, Kearns and Wise repeatedly appealed to community members to wear masks and practice social distancing to protect themselves and those around them.

The Vigo County Health Department issued this statement:

We have a mass fatality agreement with Great Dane Trailers for four refrigerator trucks.  

We also have an assessment of how much mortuary cold space we have in Vigo County.

Based on the substantial number of deaths in Vigo County in October 2020 vs October 2019, hospital bed capacity along with sufficient hospital staffing, daily positive cases and the number of deaths from COVID-19 across Indiana it is completely appropriate to be pro-active regarding mass casualties.

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