Sunday, November 22, 2020

Hundreds of New York City's Bodies Still Stored in Pandemic Freezer in Brooklyn

This is just gross. 

Horrific too. But just gross, disrespectful to the dead and their families, and a damning indictment of New York's "award-winning" leadership in this catastrophe. 

At WSJ, "NYC Dead Stay in Freezer Trucks Set Up During Spring Covid-19 Surge":

The bodies of hundreds of people who died in New York City during the Covid-19 surge in the spring are still in storage in freezer trucks on the Brooklyn waterfront. 
Many of the bodies are of people whose families can’t be located or can’t afford a proper burial, according to the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner. About 650 bodies are being stored in the trucks at a disaster morgue that was set up in April on the 39th Street Pier in Sunset Park. 
Before the pandemic, most if not all of the deceased would have been buried within a few weeks in a gravesite for the indigent on Hart Island, which is located in the Long Island Sound near the Bronx. 
But Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged in April that mass burials wouldn’t take place following reports that New York City was considering the use of temporary graves on Hart Island. 
Officials at the chief medical examiner’s office said they are having trouble tracking down relatives of about 230 deceased people. In cases like these, a spokeswoman said, it isn’t uncommon for the deceased to have been estranged from families and for next-of-kin details to be dated or incorrect. When next of kin have been contacted, officials said most bodies haven’t been collected because of financial reasons 
New York City increased its burial assistance to $1,700 from $900 in May. That is still short of the average $9,000 cost of a traditional service with burial in New York, according to the New York State Funeral Directors Association. A typical cremation with service costs about $6,500, according to the group. 
Every family has a right to request a free burial on Hart Island. Some families are confused about what to do, according to Dina Maniotis, the chief medical examiner’s office’s executive deputy commissioner, who oversaw the unit’s pandemic response. 
“This has been traumatic,” Ms. Maniotis said. ”We are working with them as gently as we can and coaxing them along to make their plans. Many of them will decide they want to go to Hart Island, which is fine.” 
The chief medical examiner’s office wasn’t built to deal with a global pandemic that killed tens of thousands of New Yorkers in a matter of months. Its forensic-investigations department has 15 staff members tasked with identification of bodies. A further seven people are responsible for contacting next of kin. 
The unit is set up to handle about 20 deaths a day, said Aden Naka, the office’s deputy director of forensic investigations. During the peak of the pandemic it was inundated with as many as 200 new cases daily. Scientists from the laboratories of the chief medical examiner’s office were drafted to reinforce the investigations team and speed up the identification process, Ms. Naka said. 
Family members deluged the office with calls seeking information about relatives who might have died as well as advice on requesting a death certificate, viewing a loved one’s body and making funeral arrangements. Officials of the chief medical examiner’s office said the city’s health department redirected more than 100 staff from other fields to manage the volume of calls, which soared to 1,000 a day from the usual 30 or 40. 
Ms. Naka said many of the callers were struggling with problems of their own. Some were recovering from the virus themselves or had lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Others were dealing with the second or third family member to die of Covid-19...

Still more.