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Monroe County Sets Up Temporary Morgue

Patti Singer

Monroe County anticipates a shortage of mortuary space because of added deaths from COVID-19, and has set up these refrigerated trucks in a Decedent Holding Area on county property on Paul Road. Provided by Monroe County.

Monroe County officials, anticipating a shortage of mortuary space at hospitals and funeral homes, and have created a place to hold deceased individuals until their final arrangements are completed.

The Decedent Holding Area, completed April 7, is out of public view at the County Fleet Center on Paul Road.

The holding area will be used for individuals who die from any cause if there is not space in a hospital or funeral home mortuary.

“For a variety of reasons, funerals are not happening as quickly as they used to,” county Director of Communications Julie Philipp said. In addition to an increase in deaths related to COVID-19, funeral homes are limiting the number of services they conduct so that they can keep social distancing and sanitize the facility.

Funerals also are delayed because some family members may be unable to travel or may be ill.

As of 4 p.m. April 7, the county reported 31 deaths related to COVID-19. The county recorded its first COVID-related death on March 19 and including April 7 had recorded at least one COVID-related death in eight of the past nine days.

As of April 7, the county had 570 confirmed COVID cases. Of those, 83 people were hospitalized and 37 people were in intensive care.

Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Public Health, said residents should assume they have been exposed to the virus. He said people should stay home because even if they don’t have symptoms, they are potentially contagious to others.

The Decedent Holding Area is two refrigerated trucks in a private area of the fleet center. The trucks have shelves, and each truck can hold 64 individuals.

Philipp said the county has access to a third truck if necessary. She said Monroe County would receive deceased individuals from Wayne and Ontario counties.