DHS Warns NYC Morgues Near Capacity As Local Hospitals Construct Makeshift Facilities

New York City morgues are nearing capacity and will be full as soon as next week, according to a Department of Homeland Security official which was corroborated by a Politico source.

Makeshift tents outside Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital

Another person familiar with the situation said that the city's hospital morgues hit capacity sometime over the past week.

That said, if New York City runs out of morgue space as the number of COVID-19 deaths increase, the Trump administration will step in and assist, according to a former senior admin official - who noted that the George W. Bush administration sent mortuary assistance after Hurricane Katrina and the September 11 attacks.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that one Manhattan hospital has set up a makeshift morgue in preparation for the surge in coronavirus victims as the city's death toll approaches 200.

Makeshift morgue outside NYC's Bellevue Hospital (via the Daily Mail)

That said, not everyone is concerned.

For now, city officials do not seem especially alarmed. Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokesperson for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), said concerns about morgue capacity may be unfounded. In Manhattan alone, she said, OCME’s morgue can store up to 900 bodies. The city has a morgue for each of the five boroughs, she said.

We have the ability to expand pretty dramatically,” she said. “If you look back at what we did during 9/11, we have the ability to create mobile stations that allow us to house bodies if we run out of space.” -Politico

That said, NYC has never dealt with mass casualties at the same rate in recent history. In Italy's Lombardy region, deaths are topping 500 per day.

"All hospitals within the city tend to have small morgue spaces, so it’s possible that with the capacity of hospitals in New York City, there may be an expectation … that they’ll run out of morgue space," said Worthy-Davis.

Multiple refrigeration trucks were lined up at the makeshift morgue site along 30th Street and the FDR Drive parkway near Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan (via the Daily Mail)

On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a briefing that the state is facing an estimated 40,000 ICU cases, but only has 3,000 available beds.

And while the government has offered NY 4,000 ventilator,s Cuomo believes they need 30,000.