A Washington county has approved an emergency declaration to bring in a refrigeration trailer for the bodies of COVID-19 victims that have overwhelmed the morgue.
Cowlitz County commissioners declared the emergency on Tuesday after the county’s coroner requested a refrigeration trailer for bodies the morgue does not have the capacity to hold, local newspaper The Daily News reported.
Coroner Tim Davidson said the morgue and funeral homes have 65 bodies currently, when the maximum capacity for the facilities is 45.
The morgue itself typically only holds 10 bodies, but the coroner has said he’s been putting more tables in the cold room to handle the increase in deaths from the virus.
“We’re just doing our best that we can to preserve the dignity of the deceased from this point forward until they can be processed for their families,” Davidson told The Daily News.
Construction of a bigger morgue that can hold 50 bodies is underway, but the coroner won’t be able to move into the facility until the beginning of October.
The county’s Health and Human Services data says between Aug. 31 and Sept. 6 there have been eight COVID-19 deaths, according to the newspaper. The county has suffered from a higher rate of coronavirus deaths than the rest of the state for the past nine months.
Washington has had more than 586,000 reported coronavirus cases during the pandemic with more than 6,700 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The state has 62 percent of its residents fully vaccinated.
The Hill has reached out to the coroner’s office and county for comment.