Morgues are overflowing in a New York county where dozens of people are dying from
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone described the crisis unfolding in his section of the Hamptons in an interview with
‘We’re seeing a total of 50, 60 people dying a day from the virus. All COVID-related,’ Bellone said. ‘The numbers are staggering.’
A month ago, Suffolk County hadn’t recorded a single coronavirus death. As of Tuesday, more than 608 people have died and 22,691 have been infected.
Harrowing footage shows countless bodies lined up inside the county morgue and two refrigerated trucks, all of which are filled to capacity.
County officials are now laying plans to convert a refrigerated building on the Suffolk County Farm into a temporary morgue as they expect the death toll to continue rising for the foreseeable future.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Harrowing CNN footage shows the inside of a morgue in Suffolk County, New York, where dozens of people are dying from coronavirus each day
Two refrigerated trucks brought in to store bodies after the morgue filled up have also reached capacity as Suffolk County officials prepare to open another morgue facility at an unused meat processing plant. The inside of one of the refrigerated trucks is shown above
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone described the crisis unfolding in his section of the Hamptons in an interview with CNN on Wednesday. ‘We’re seeing a total of 50, 60 people dying a day from the virus. All COVID-related,’ he said. ‘The numbers are staggering’
A new morgue facility with 300 beds has been set up at Suffolk County Farms (pictured)
Bellone said the farm facility, which is owned by the county and run by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, is currently set up to hold 300 bodies but capacity could be increased to 450 if necessary.
The county has also requested more body bags from the state as its current supply dwindles.
‘I’m having conversations I never imagined having in this position,’ Bellone told CNN.
‘At the early stages of this crisis, we were having conversations about suggestions of using ice rinks and stores with refrigeration to store bodies.
‘I made the decision that I was not going to tell families that we need to convert their children’s ice-skating rinks and turn them into morgues because that is not who we are.’
Suffolk County, which is home to 1.5 million people on the eastern half of Long Island, currently ranks fifth in New York state for coronavirus cases.
‘If I can convey anything to people across the country who haven’t been hit, it is how quick this happens and how intense it gets. And to do everything you can to prepare,’ Bellone said.
‘Once it does come, you’re in for something you’ve never seen before.’
A month ago, Suffolk County hadn’t recorded a single coronavirus death. As of Tuesday, more than 608 people have died and 22,691 have been infected. The inside of the county’s main morgue, which reached capacity days ago, is shown above
Bodies are seen stacked in a refrigerated tractor trailer outside the county morgue
The new morgue facility at Suffolk County Farm (pictured) is currently set up to hold 300 bodies, but capacity could be increased to 450 if necessary
A worker is seen arranging shelves inside the refrigerated building at the farm
According to the latest figures released Tuesday, more than 1,600 of Suffolk County’s 22,691 infected individuals are currently hospitalized.
The number of hospitalized patients increased by 13 from Monday to Tuesday as 121 were admitted and 108 were released.
About a third of those hospitalized (531) are in the intensive care unit, eight fewer than were in the ICU on Monday.
Suffolk County, which is home to 1.5 million people on the eastern half of Long Island, currently ranks fifth in New York state for coronavirus cases. The graphic above shows cases per town: Islip – 6,051; Brookhaven – 4,321; Babylon – 3,660; Huntington – 2,923; Smithtown – 1,182; Southampton – 332; Southold – 242; Riverhead – 233; East Hampton – 105; Shelter Island – 6
The graphic above with cases per hamlet is color-coded to indicate outbreak severity
The graphic above shows cases per 1,000 people in each hamlet (white boundaries) and town (red boundaries)
Southside Hospital in Bay Shore is one of many health care facilities that are struggling to keep up with the unrelenting flood of critical-ill coronavirus patients in the past few weeks.
The hospital increased its limited capacity from 305 beds to 418 beds before setting up a tent in the parking lot specifically for COVID-19 patients.
‘We’re maxed out. We have been maxed out for a while,’ an ER worker told CNN.
‘Everyone is talking about New York City, but our local community has had a widespread disease and we actually – within the health system – had a very high percentage of patients in the ICU.’
Another worker said: ‘Being an emergency room nurse, this is what you sign up for. You sign up to be there no matter what comes in the door. This is on a much bigger scale.’
Southside Hospital in Bay Shore (pictured) increased its limited capacity from 305 beds to 418 beds before setting up a tent in the parking lot specifically for COVID-19 patients
Exacerbating the crisis in Suffolk County and neighboring Nassau County is an influx of wealthy families fleeing New York City for Long Island’s coveted beach towns to escape the coronavirus hotspot.
Full-time residents of those towns have voiced concerns that the flood of so-called ‘coronavirus refugees’ would brought infection that much closer to their doorsteps while overwhelming already stretched resources.
Late last month local leaders in four Hamptons communities wrote a letter to New York Governor Andrew urging him to ban the refugees from coming to Long Island.