Fourteen portable morgues are being sent to central Florida hospitals amid what one official called “unprecedented deaths” during the state’s record COVID-19 crisis.
Each refrigerated morgue holds 12 bodies, Lynne Drawdy, executive director of the Central Florida Disaster Medial Coalition, who ordered the units, told the Orlando Sentinel.
“The number of deaths right now is unprecedented,” Drawdy told the newspaper. “What we’re hearing from the hospitals is that the death count right now is higher than it has ever been.”
AdventHealth, which is getting three of the portable morgues, said in a statement to WESH Channel 2 that the system is also renting refrigerated units at 10 sites in Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties, noting that they are also being filled.
The AdventHealth statement said bodies are backing up because funeral homes and crematoriums are also overwhelmed.
“COVID has never gone away,” Kimberly Mitchell, owner of Mitchell’s Funeral Home, told WMPG Chanel 6 in Orlando. “The hospitals are starting to run out of room [with] refrigeration for people who have passed.”
The Florida Department of Health reports 389 people have died from COVID-19 this past week and 43,979 people have died from the virus in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.
Just over half of Florida residents — 52% — have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“There is no question that the delta variant had changed everything,” Raul Pino, health officer in Orange County, told the Sentinel. “But if we were at higher rates of vaccination, let’s say 80 to 85% of our eligible population, the numbers would be smaller.”