A long-term disaster morgue at Brooklyn’s 39th Street Pier is now operating, according to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).
The disaster morgue, where human remains are frozen inside trucks, was established to ease the stress that overwhelmed funeral directors in New York City are experiencing from the unprecedented amount of deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Monday, funeral home directors, faith leaders, morgue operators, cemeteries joined OCME on a conference call, according to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“Even a public health crisis of this magnitude should not get in the way of treating decedents with basic dignity,” he said in a press release Monday.
OCME outlined three recent policy changes to help the “death care system” operate in a smoother fashion:
- A location to store bodies is set up at Pier 39 to ease the burden on funeral homes and extend the window during which bodies can be retrieved.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be distributed to cemetery workers and funeral home workers.
- Pier 39 will remain open until to 10:30 p.m. every day
Michael Lanotte, executive director of the New York State Funeral Directors Association, told CNN the Brooklyn morgue would reduce the pressure on the city's overloaded funeral industry.
“The additional morgue operating hours will also help funeral directors by providing them with evening hours for transfers since they spend the vast majority of the daytime hours conducting funerals, making arrangements and answering calls from families seeking their services,” said Lanotte.