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Cuyahoga County Requests Refrigerated Trucks For Corpses

Dr. Thomas Gilson, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, announced Friday he has requested refrigerated trucks in preparation for a surge in COVID-19 deaths.

The request is part of the county’s pandemic plan, which requires them to ask for refrigerated units if the county reaches three sustained days of 30 or more deaths. The county reached that threshold in the last week, Gilson said.

“In conversations with funeral homes, they are reporting they are busy but not overwhelmed. There is not a storage issue right now,” Gilson said.

County hospitals are also participating in planning this next level of preparedness, he said.

Cuyahoga County has had over a thousand cases reported each week over the last five weeks, with cases now reaching about 600 per day.

“The last few weeks have been very difficult,” said Romona Brazile, County Deputy Director of Prevention and Wellness.

“Two weeks ago, when we first started to see cases around 400, 600, 700, and then finally more than 1,100 cases in a day, I cried. Because I realized what it would mean for our community, and despite everything we’re doing, it wasn’t going to be enough,” she said, trying to hold back her tears.

The implication of the refrigerated units is clear: deaths will go up, said Terry Allan, county health commissioner.

The numbers right now don’t even include the Thanksgiving holiday, where some families gathered despite warnings to have smaller holidays, Allan said.

County officials repeated warnings to not have holiday gatherings in December, and to wear a mask and remain socially distant.

The Cleveland Department of Public Health (CDPH), which reports numbers separately from Cuyahoga County, had 212 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number to 12,367 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

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