The distressing images show an aerial view of freezer trucks diverted to makeshift mortuary carrying the bodies of 650 patients infected with the COVID-19 virus parked along the waterfront in Brooklyn.
The disturbing photos show about 50 trucks neatly parked in the parking lot at 39th Street Pier in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn.
The emergency morgue was set up after the city’s body facilities and funeral homes were full during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when New York City was the epicenter of the virus outbreak in America.
About 50 freeze trucks parked on the sidewalk of 39th Street in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn have been converted into makeshift mortuary storing 650 unclaimed corpses of COVID-19 victims.
City officials continue to store the bodies because many of them have either not been identified yet or their relatives have not yet been contacted
A makeshift morgue was set up in April, when New York City was in the midst of a coronavirus battle that essentially shut down the metropolitan area as cases and deaths increased.
The city is still holding the bodies there because 230 of the dead were people whose relatives had not yet been contacted, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A spokesperson for the city’s chief medical examiner’s office said it was not uncommon to keep the bodies of those who have separated from loved ones or whose contact information is out of date or out of date.
In some cases, relatives of the deceased are themselves deceased, according to city officials.
Those whose relatives have been contacted have yet to collect the bodies because they cannot afford the exorbitant costs of a decent burial.
On April 1, New York City recorded more than 83,000 injuries and only 1,941 deaths. At the time, Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed that there was only a 20 percent chance of patients using a ventilator to exit the machine.
Those whose relatives have been contacted have not yet received the bodies because they cannot afford the high costs of a proper burial.
The Wall Street Journal reported that burial aid in New York City was raised in May from $ 900 to $ 1,700 – a whopping $ 7,300 less than the average price of $ 9,000 for a traditional service with a burial.
The New York State Funeral Directors Association said the average cost of cremation is around $ 6,500
The photo above shows a medical examination truck leaving the Brooklyn waterfront on Monday
In New York, the average cost of a traditional burial can be around $ 9,000, while the cost of a typical cremation is about $ 6,500, according to the Association of Funeral Directors of New York State.
As the pandemic claimed more lives, the city boosted burial aid for residents from $ 900 to $ 1,700 – still well below the average cost.
Families who cannot afford these options can ask the city to bury their loved ones for free on Hart Island, a small piece of land on Long Island Sound off the coast of the Bronx.
Hart Island is where the city maintains a cemetery for the poor and needy. In pre-pandemic times, unclaimed corpses could have been held on the island, one of the largest public cemeteries in the country.
Hart Island is operated by the city correction department. The burials were traditionally buried by inmates at the nearby Rikers Island prison.
During the first three months of the pandemic that began in March, the city reported 203,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of these, 18,679 people died and more than 54,000 were hospitalized.
In total, more than 24,000 New Yorkers have died from a disease associated with COVID-19. More than 301,000 residents of the city have tested positive for the disease.
The city numbers bear the brunt of the New York State numbers, which show more than 33,800 deaths and 607,000 cases.
With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in March, New York City mortuary and cemeteries are overcrowded and frozen trucks have been installed to house additional bodies.
Drone photos taken on April 9 show bodies being buried on Hart Island in New York as the prison administration deals with more burials overall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In May, as the city struggled to cope with the growing piles of bodies, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would delay mass burials and that efforts would be made to notify the next of kin.
Staff at the city medical examiner office were ill-equipped to deal with a pandemic that would only happen once a century.
The unit employs only 15 people to identify the bodies while seven others are tasked with contacting their relatives.
In normal times, before the pandemic, a unit can handle 20 deaths a day. At the height of the epidemic, it was flooded with about 200 new cases every day.
The workforce shortage delayed weeks – and even months – to notify their anxious loved ones, who continued to call the office for information about death certificates, body viewing, and funeral arrangements.
Lea-Ann Carava is informed of the death of her husband, whom she separated from three months after he was found dead in his bed.
Frank Joseph Carafa died of cardiovascular disease in his Manhattan apartment on May 6. And his wife, who lives in Westchester County, was not informed until July 28.
Frank’s death certificate did not mention that COVID-19 was a contributing factor to his death.
Before the pandemic, the office sent up to 40 calls a day. At the height of the epidemic, he was receiving 1,000 calls a day.
New York was thought to be behind the worst of the epidemic, but Governor Andrew Cuomo is now warning of a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases during the holiday period.
The average of new confirmed cases in New York state has averaged about 5,500 cases per day for the past seven days. The most dangerous hikes have been reported in Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. An increase in cases has also been reported in western New York State
Cuomo warned on Monday that hospitalizations for COVID may double in the next three weeks, which means new lockdown measures may be enacted.
City officials said they are sensitive to the needs of bereaved New Yorkers, who must now be guided through the delicate task of claiming the bodies of their loved ones.
“It was painful,” Dina Maniotis, deputy executive commissioner for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, told the Wall Street Journal.
We work with [next of kin] Gently as possible and persuade them to make their plans.
Many of them will decide that they want to go to Hart Island, and that’s okay.
When city officials cannot track down the closest relatives, they try to identify the body through forensic means, including fingerprints, medical records, dental records, or DNA data.
Officials also scan police records or other available documents.
The city slowly reduced the burden of unclaimed corpses. And in mid-September, it was holding 698 bodies.
It plans to continue using freezer trucks until the end of the epidemic. That might be a while.
On Monday, the governor of New York said he is reopening a COVID-19 emergency field hospital on Staten Island as the number of infections continues to rise, the first such facility in the state to be relaunched since the state partially tamed the pandemic over the summer.
The makeshift hospital on the grounds of South Beach Psychiatric Hospital received 200 patients in the spring, when New York City Hospital wards were crowded with critically ill Coronavirus patients dying.
Now, Cuomo said officials are concerned that there may be a need again, as the virus has spread in the town at a faster rate than the rest of the city.
The average new cases of COVID-19 on Staten Island per day over the past seven days – an increase of 86 percent from the previous two weeks.
The average of new confirmed cases in New York state has averaged about 5,500 cases per day for the past seven days.
Hospitals and nursing homes have reported 665 deaths from COVID-19 in the state over the past 30 days – more than July, August and September combined.