Virus prompts Illinois county to open warehouse to store bodies

The Illinois county that includes Chicago is setting up new places to store bodies in preparation for a likely surge in the number of coronavirus deaths that could overwhelm hospital morgues.

Posted: Apr 9, 2020 3:16 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2020 7:09 AM

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois county that includes Chicago is setting up new places to store bodies in preparation for a likely surge in the number of coronavirus deaths that could overwhelm hospital morgues.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office said in a news release Thursday that a 66,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse located 5 miles from the medical examiner’s office would be up and running by the end of the day. The facility, according to the release, will be able to hold more than 2,000 bodies.

The county’s Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security has also acquired 14 refrigerator trailers and is in the process of securing six more. Another trailer has already been set up outside the medical examiner’s office. It’s a grim reminder of the trailers that were hastily set up to handle the overflow of bodies of people who died in the 1995 heat wave that claimed more than 700 lives.

“While my hope is that we have made plans that we will not have to utilize, I realize that my administration has the responsibility for a surge of deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Preckwinkle said in the release. “We are working diligently to ensure that the victims of this virus are treated with dignity while under our care.”

The warehouse and the trailers come at a time when the medical examiner’s office is closing in on the maximum number of bodies it can store. County spokeswoman Natalia Derevyanny said the office has enough space to store 285 bodies and at last count there were 246 bodies stored there. She said there are already two trailers at the facility, each of which can hold 30 bodies.

She also said that the other trailers will be placed in parts of the county where there are anticipated surges and they will be moved to be placed wherever officials see there are hot spots.

Further, she said the facility opening on Thursday will streamline the process of storing bodies. “This is for all the hospitals so they (bodies) can be taken directly” to that facility, instead of being first brought to the medical examiner’s office, she said.

Derevyanny did not know the size of morgues for area hospitals but said they are quite small, with space for only a few bodies each.

Meanwhile, Chicago, which has long been plagued by gun violence, has in recent days been hit by a rash of shootings that is taxing the medical examiner’s office at a time when it is dealing with more and more coronavirus deaths.

According to Chicago police, there were between Sunday and early yesterday 13 homicides, a spate of shootings that prompted angry words from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“In the middle of this worldwide pandemic, our precious health resources need to be treating COVID-19 patients and those needing acute care... Lightfoot said at a Wednesday news briefing. “To be blunt, if our ICUs are filled with gunshot victims, our ability to respond to this … crisis will necessarily be compromised.”

Lightfoot urged people to help investigators, despite a history of distrust residents of some neighborhoods have with police that has made them reluctant to come forward with information.

“This is especially urgent now as our ability to treat all Chicagoans is being stretched to the breaking point,“she said. “We cannot allow this to happen. People know who the shooters are. You know who you are. These cowards cannot be given any shelter,” Lightfoot said.

Terre Haute
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 88°
Robinson
Partly Cloudy
87° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 92°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 84°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 89°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 89°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 88°
Marshall
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 88°
Mostly sunny and warm. Slight chance of isolated showers.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Indiana State sees significant enrollment drop

Image

ISU sees significant drop in enrollment

Image

Sullivan VB

Image

Loogootee VB

Image

THS Boys Soccer

Image

Brodie Crowe

Image

Garzolini putting up big numbers this season

Image

The impact of COVID-19 deaths in the Wabash Valley

Image

Farm celebrates over 200 years of ownership by the same family

Image

Farm celebrates over 200 years of ownership by the same family

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1586741

Reported Deaths: 26925
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook60838310908
DuPage1029391352
Will864071082
Lake763201054
Kane65287840
Winnebago38594543
Madison37626567
St. Clair34704559
McHenry32702312
Peoria25674359
Champaign25553182
Sangamon24210266
McLean21543204
Tazewell19523326
Rock Island17578342
Kankakee16478232
Kendall15226105
LaSalle14310275
Macon14208230
Vermilion12890181
Adams12562147
DeKalb11496126
Williamson11171154
Whiteside7797176
Boone754681
Jackson752079
Coles7169111
Ogle702685
Grundy692281
Clinton674698
Franklin664794
Knox6469163
Marion6416135
Macoupin633997
Henry607172
Jefferson5959130
Effingham586380
Livingston562894
Woodford548891
Stephenson536489
Randolph520196
Monroe501998
Morgan478895
Christian477880
Fulton477069
Logan472873
Montgomery461276
Lee454056
Bureau422087
Perry408870
Saline397663
Iroquois390271
Fayette386556
McDonough351355
Jersey319553
Douglas302636
Shelby298943
Crawford297630
Union293445
Lawrence293231
Wayne266756
White260729
Richland255652
Hancock252234
Pike250656
Cass246728
Clark242938
Bond241524
Ford232956
Clay231647
Edgar228544
Carroll223837
Warren219756
Johnson208622
Moultrie208231
Washington204227
Jo Daviess202224
Greene198938
Mason195451
Wabash195015
Massac194544
De Witt192030
Piatt188714
Mercer186134
Cumberland174023
Menard155112
Jasper149218
Marshall133121
Hamilton126721
Brown10128
Pulaski97311
Schuyler9598
Edwards94315
Stark75826
Gallatin7254
Scott6885
Alexander66111
Calhoun6362
Henderson63014
Hardin55613
Putnam5414
Pope4715
Unassigned1262432
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 922320

Reported Deaths: 15046
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1257411955
Lake624991085
Allen52483747
Hamilton43160443
St. Joseph41310584
Elkhart33007487
Vanderburgh29828437
Tippecanoe26515247
Johnson23192415
Hendricks21821340
Porter21321341
Clark17073222
Madison16978379
Vigo15715272
Monroe14236190
LaPorte14029236
Delaware13694217
Howard13590259
Kosciusko11192134
Hancock10606160
Warrick10479175
Bartholomew10283167
Floyd10144202
Wayne9634216
Grant8901196
Morgan8688158
Boone8260109
Dubois7555123
Henry7433127
Dearborn737187
Noble7229100
Marshall7209128
Cass7076117
Lawrence6827150
Shelby6428106
Jackson641481
Gibson6018105
Harrison591684
Huntington587891
Montgomery5685101
DeKalb557791
Knox535399
Miami527383
Clinton524864
Putnam523167
Whitley511151
Steuben483367
Wabash472192
Jasper469161
Jefferson459491
Ripley440775
Adams436665
Daviess4036106
Scott393163
White384257
Clay379756
Greene378189
Decatur377895
Wells376983
Fayette364974
Posey353441
Jennings344356
Washington324847
LaGrange313474
Spencer311734
Fountain308553
Randolph302787
Sullivan297547
Owen276961
Starke271361
Orange270859
Fulton266051
Jay249234
Perry246750
Carroll240426
Franklin231037
Vermillion228250
Rush228030
Parke213620
Tipton206154
Pike201438
Blackford164834
Pulaski158250
Crawford141418
Newton139441
Benton138916
Brown132046
Martin126216
Switzerland122810
Warren113216
Union92511
Ohio76111
Unassigned0465