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Covid-19: Over a year into pandemic, New York continues to store hundreds of bodies in refrigerated trucks

At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City in the United States last year, the city administration started storing bodies of the Covid-19 victims in refrigerated trucks. Unfortunately, a year later, hundreds of them are still awaiting burial.

According to a local media report, a city council health committee acknowledged last week that the remains of about 750 Covid-19 victims are still being stored inside the trucks, parked along the Brooklyn waterfront.

City, a local news website, reported that officials are now trying to reduce the number of bodies.

Most bodies likely to end up on Hart Island

Hart Island, a mile-long landmass in the Long Island Sound, is home to the largest mass grave in the United States as it was used to bury the city’s poor and unclaimed for more than a century.

The bodies awaiting burial may also end up there,

Dina Maniotis, the executive deputy commissioner with the medical examiner’s office, reportedly told the health committee that his office was trying to get in touch with families of the Covid-19 victims and will shift the bodies to Hart Island as soon as they grant permission.

In March and April of last year, New York City was among the hardest-hit areas in the world.

“Long-term storage was created at the height of the pandemic to ensure that families could lay their loved ones to rest as they see fit,” Mark Desire, a spokesperson for the medical examiner’s office, told the Associated Press last week. “With sensitivity and compassion, we continue to work with individual families on a case-by-case basis during their period of mourning.”

Most families of the victims remaining in the trucks have said they want the Hart Island burial option, Maniotis told the health commission. In some cases, she said, the city has lost contact with the families.

The refrigerated trucks were parked outside hospitals during the worst days of the pandemic for the city, becoming one of the most visible signs of its toll.

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