NYC considering using parks as temporary burial sites: city councilman

The chair of the New York City Council’s health committee said on Monday that officials are considering temporarily burying people who die from the coronavirus in local parks. 

In a series of tweets, New York City Councilman Mark Levine said that trenches will be dug to hold 10 caskets in a line. The burials will only be temporary, he said, though he acknowledged the gravity of the situation. 

“Soon we'll start ‘temporary interment’,” Levine wrote. “This likely will be done by using a NYC park for burials (yes you read that right). Trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line.” 

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“It will be done in a dignified, orderly — and temporary — manner. But it will be tough for NYers to take.”

Levine said the purpose of the temporary burials would be “to avoid scenes like those in Italy, where the military was forced to collect bodies from churches and even off the streets.”

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOVERNIGHT ENERGY: California seeks to sell only electric cars by 2035 | EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities | House energy package sparks criticism from left and right EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities New Year's Eve in Times Square to be largely virtual amid pandemic MORE (D) said the city had not yet decided to move forward with such burials, but noted that it remains an option as morgues and funeral homes struggle to keep up with the growing number of deaths.

“If we need to do temporary burials to be able to tide this over to pass the crisis and then work with each family on their appropriate arrangements, we have the ability to do that,” de Blasio told reporters at a news conference on Monday.

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New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoOn The Money: House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles | New York considers hiking taxes on the rich | Treasury: Trump's payroll tax deferral won't hurt Social Security OVERNIGHT ENERGY: California seeks to sell only electric cars by 2035 | EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities | House energy package sparks criticism from left and right EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities MORE (D) expressed shock on Monday when asked if he had heard about a plan to temporarily bury bodies in parks.

“I have heard a lot of wild rumors, but I have not heard anything about the city burying people in parks,” he told reporters at a daily briefing. “I didn’t know there was an issue. I haven’t heard that there was an issue.”

New York City has already begun to store bodies in freezer trucks, and restrictions on crematories have been loosened to allow them to operate 24 hours a day.

New York has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In New York City alone, more than 3,000 people have died from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Updated at 12:43 p.m.