The expected 'Italy levels' of strain and collapse to the system has now begun in the United States, it appears, as on Wednesday New York, Hawaii and North Carolina have issued an urgent request to FEMA for emergency mortuary assistance as deaths mount across the states.
CNBC reports "A spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency confirmed the request in a statement on Wednesday," and it's now said to be under review but not yet approved.
The US on Wednesday reached above 60,000 confirmed cases and is on track to overtake Italy and possibly China in terms of total numbers.
New York, New Jersey, and California have the highest concentration of cases, with 17,856 Covid-19 confirmations in New York City alone. New York also has 285 deaths from the disease. Hawaii currently has 91 confirmed cases and one death, according to Johns Hopkins University figures on Wednesday. North Carolina has 529 cases and two deaths.
With almost 200 of New York's deaths concentrated in NYC, and morgues feeling the strain, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an appeal for more ventilators and hospital beds as well. Politico reported Wednesday that the city's morgues are already at or at least very near capacity.
Makeshift morgues, meanwhile, are planned to relieve the stress to the system, starting with reports of a makeshift morgue being established at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.
New York's increasingly strained health care system and morgues may be an early sign of where things are headed for the rest of the country. As for Hawaii and North Carolina, also requesting FEMA mortuary assistance, CNBC reports:
Hawaii and North Carolina have suffered few deaths from COVID-19 to date. After announcing its first death from the disease, Hawaii’s Department of Health backtracked on Tuesday and said the test results had been misread and the person did not die of coronavirus, according to HawaiiNewsNow. Health authorities in North Carolina reported the first deaths from coronavirus in the state on Wednesday.
Makeshift morgues with tents and refrigeration trucks is set up outside NYC hospital https://t.co/Lndk6NjPgF— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) March 25, 2020
If the emergency request for federal morgue assistance to these states are approved, HHS Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams, or DMORT, will deploy in order to “work to quickly and accurately identify victims and support local mortuary services,” according to a government website, as well to “establishing temporary morgue facilities” and help in “assisting in the determination of cause and manner of death”.
Should these initial states receive the FEMA help, more states are likely to follow suit as cases across the US grow.