22/07/2024 8:50 AM


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FEMA sends refrigerator trucks to NYC as temporary mortuaries for coronavirus victims

Makeshift morgue trailer set next to Lenox Health Medical Pavilion part of Northwell Health system in Greenwich Village of Manhattan.

Lev Radin | Pacific Press | Getty Images

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday it is sending refrigerator trucks to New York City to serve as temporary mortuaries for deceased coronavirus patients.

Thomas Von Essen, the agency’s regional administrator, said the military has provided 42 people to the Manhattan Medical Examiner’s Office where there is a “desperate need” for help in the Queens borough. 

When asked whether Madison Square Garden would be converted into a temporary mortuary, Van Essen ruled out that idea. 

“We are sending refrigeration trucks to New York to help with some of the problem on a temporary basis,” he said at a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio as local officials welcomed the Naval medical ship the USNS Comfort to New York City.

De Blasio said the city is preparing for a “horrible increase in the number of deaths.”

“To date, I still fear the worse is not going to be April but actually the beginning of May,” de Blasio said. “I guarantee you that April is going to be exceedingly tough and we have to understand that any projection of things being all OK by Easter, there’s just no way that’s true for New York City.”

As of Sunday night, local health officials confirmed more than 33,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York City alone, comprising almost a quarter of all cases in the U.S.

Over the weekend, de Blasio said he authorized the use of fines in parks and playgrounds for those not following proper social distancing measures. If someone doesn’t adhere to a warning from a police officer, they could be fined $250 to $500.

“They’re going to give people every chance to listen. And if anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point,” de Blasio told reporters on Sunday.

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