Counties in Texas and Arizona have started bringing in refrigerated trucks to serve as temporary storage for bodies as area morgues have become filled to capacity. Cases of coronavirus have surged in several states in recent weeks, which has once again overridden medical systems.
Maricopa County, Arizona, which is home to the most cases of COVID-19 in the state, the medical examiner's office ordered four portable coolers with more expected in the coming days, county spokesperson Fields Moseley told CNN. He also said the morgue currently housed 156 deceased individuals, but can only hold just over 200 total. However, he added that not all the cases are coronavirus related, as fatalities typically increase during the summer months.
Meanwhile, the Dallas County morgue was forced to resort to using an external refrigerated truck due to an overwhelming caseload. "We have had to go to the external refrigerated truck once this week due to increased caseload, but today we are back with all cases inside," Dallas County Medical Examiner Jeffrey Barnard said in a statement. "I anticipate that we will at some point have to use the truck again based on continuing increased volume."
Similar measures have been taken in Texas' Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, while Cameron and Hidalgo counties have resorted to sharing a refrigerated truck between them. Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. told KVEO. that he was "pleading with everybody in our neck of the woods, help us do your part, people's lives are at stake." He added that his concerns were "not just the people getting sick, but doctors, nurses working to the bone, EMS personnel, transporting people."
On Thursday, the U.S. passed 3.5 million confirmed cases, with 138,000 deaths and counting, per Johns Hopkins University. Currently, 39 states have reported an increase in the number of new cases from the week before. Along with Arizona and Texas, California and Florida have also become hotbeds of infection, while Georgia has banned mandating masks outright, all of which further concerns health officials.
Despite the surging number of cases across the U.S., there has been a concerted effort by President Donald Trump and his administration to open schools in the fall, most of which closed down back in March. At a press conference on Thursday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that "science should not stand in the way of this," and also that "the science is on our side" regarding the controversial plan.