On April 28, New York City opened a long-term freezer storage facility at Brooklyn Pier, which can hold at least 1,500 dead bodies. (The city refused to provide precise capacity).
“This is a real game changer,” said Jenna Mandel Ritchie, a co-author of the Greater New York Hospital Association’s report on case fatality management, which documents lessons learned from the crisis. “I hope we don’t need it, but knowing it is there and knowing it is part of the built framework is incredible.”
At the height of the crisis, federal disaster workers and the New York National Guard assisted in the processing and storage of thousands of bodies on the “Disaster Morgue 4”
As of December 4, the city’s facilities at the maritime terminal can still store 529 corpses for long-term storage and keep 40 refrigerated trailers. (The Wall Street Journal first reported that the body is still being held in the facility.)
As long as you discuss the final resting place with your family, the city has no time limit on how long a body can stay. Dr. Sampson said the service is free.
She said those who stayed there for a long time in December are a mixture of Covid-19 and non-Covid deaths, and these deaths have continued to reach the terminal since May. She said that the location relieved the pressure on her office’s regular morgue, which can accommodate 900 corpses, and also provided a central place for the funi to retrieve the remains.
However, the burials on Hart Island have not stopped: According to the city’s Department of Corrections, this year, the city’s cemeteries have buried 2,225 adults, the most in decades. Now, the burial is carried out at the request of the family, or because the body has not been confirmed or claimed after about two months of investigation.