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Coronavirus: Hospital worker shares video of bodies being loaded into huge trucks in New York as state death toll passes 1,000

Graphic content warning: Refrigerated trucks outside hospitals will act as a makeshift morgue until bodies are transported elsewhere 

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Monday 30 March 2020 20:21 BST
Navy hospital ship arrives in New York to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak

New York City hospitals have been overrun with an influx of Covid-19 patients with the number of cases rising to 33,768 confirmed infections and 776 people have died, as of Sunday.

Footage shared online shows how some NYC hospitals are handling the people dying from the virus, as well as other ailments, including using forklifts to load bodies on refrigerated trucks to act as makeshift morgues before they are transported away.

One video outside Brooklyn Hospital Centre in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, appeared to show hospital workers working to move bodies into an 18-wheel refrigerated truck over the weekend.

"This is for real. This is Brooklyn," an unidentified man said who filmed the moment.

"This may make you want to take this serious," he added.

Another video shared by a Mount Sinai hospital worker showed staff standing outside with stretchers carrying what looked to be bodies. The worker in the video said they were preparing to load the bodies into a refrigerated truck.

The Independent contacted Brooklyn Hospital Centre and Mount Sinai for a comment on the released footage.

Hospitals across New York City have set up these trucks outside their buildings as makeshift morgues during the pandemic. These trucks were previously used during the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Reasoning behind using these trucks is the inability for hospitals to house the increased number of bodies in their built-in morgues. Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, for example, can only hold 20 bodies in its morgue, so it has resorted to also placing a refrigerated truck outside its building, CNN reports.

"What's more so terrifying is you have family members who can't come pick up normally as they lose a family member," Khari Edwards, the hospital's vice president of external affairs, told CNN. "Funeral homes are swamped."

Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan has also placed a truck outside its building.

New York state is anticipating it will need about 140,000 hospital beds to handle the number of Covid-19 patients. Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday when welcoming the USNS Comfort, an 1,000-bed hospital ship, to the city's harbour that it needed every hospital to increase capacity by three times in the coming weeks.

Officials, including New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, anticipated April could be a deadlier month with the virus expected to peak.

"The reality is that if we think about the typical flu season on a yearly basis New York loses roughly 1,000 to 2,000 people because of influenza. I think we are on the scale of having many more people ... die because of Covid-19," he said on Sunday. "We're definitely on track for having more deaths than we would typically see in a flu season."

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