Arizona county requests refrigerated trucks as morgues hit 97 percent capacity during pandemic

As coronavirus cases spike in Arizona, morgues are reporting that they are nearing capacity and some are even requesting refrigerated trucks as backup. 

According to the statement, which was obtained by local outlet ABC15, one morgue in Arbazo was “near capacity” and the Maricopa Office of the Medical Examiner was at 97 percent capacity. According to officials, the office of the medical examiner was working to “secure a contract for refrigerator trucks.”

“I’m heartbroken … it’s been a rough week for me,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told ABC15, reportedly mentioning the White House denying her requests for additional aid. “We are losing too many Arizonans.”

The Abrazo Hospital System said in a statement to ABC 15 that it has “adequate morgue space [but] has taken a proactive approach by ordering refrigerated storage.”

Questions of morgue space come as Arizona sees climbing cases of COVID-19, with the Arizona Department of Health Services reporting 4,221 new coronavirus cases on Friday and 44 more deaths.

The highest number of new cases the state has ever reported was 5,272 on June 29. As of Friday, 116,892 people in Arizona have tested positive for the virus and 2,082 people have died.

Gallego had said earlier this week that her state reopened businesses too early after brief closures due to the pandemic.

“We opened way too early in Arizona. We were one of the last states to go to stay at home and one of the first to reemerge, and we reemerged at zero to 60,” Gallego said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks. Our 20- to 44-year-olds, which is my own demographic, really led the explosion, and we’ve seen such growth in that area. We’re seeing a lot of people go to large family gatherings and infect their family members.”

She also said in the interview that the city was in a testing crisis, and some people were waiting up to eight hours for a COVID-19-test. She has requested testing aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency but said earlier this week that her requests have been denied multiple times.

It marks a similar scene to New York early on during the pandemic when there were multiple reports of morgues hitting capacity and requesting refrigerated trucks. 

Tags Arizona capacity Coronavirus COVID-19 Morgue

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