COVID-19: New York plans temporary mass graves as death toll rises


As deaths in New York City from the new coronavirus are increasing and threatening to overwhelm the city’s ability to manage the dead, authorities have begun to consider using temporary burial sites.

“Soon we will start a ‘temporary burial’. This will likely be done using a New York park for burials, “said councilor Mark Levine, chairman of his health committee, on Twitter. Home deaths are now averaging 200 to 215 a day, compared to an average of 20 to 25 a day, said Levine.

A municipal protocol drawn up in 2008 proposed burial solutions in the event of a disaster resulting in too many deaths for the town’s mortuary. The medical examiner’s planning document does not mention parks as a potential burial site, but city officials have discussed locating temporary cemeteries in “low-traffic parks with open spaces,” Levine said in a statement. interview.

“We are now at full capacity in temporary mortuaries and storage freezers, so this could be imminent unless we have a significant drop in the number of deaths or an increase in capacity,” said Levine.

The city reported 64,955 cases of COVID-19 and 2,472 deaths as of April 5.

The city is likely to create a temporary burial on Hart Island in the Long Island Strait off the Bronx, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Monday. The remains of more than a million people are buried there. It was used as a Union Civil War prisoner camp, a psychiatric facility, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a potters ‘field, a homeless shelter, a boys’ reformatory, a prison and a rehab.

“We have the capacity, but it will be very difficult. I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t think it’s a good thing to speak publicly, “said de Blasio. “We are working closely with the federal government to make sure we have the capacity. Yes, there will be delays due to the intensity of this crisis. We will try to treat each family with dignity, respect and the religious needs of those who are pious. “

Hart Island could be problematic, said Levine, as it is difficult for families to access. In addition, it has security concerns as a property managed by the city’s correctional services department, which uses inmates as workers.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his daily press briefing on the pandemic, said he was unaware of the alternative internship plans or their need.


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