New York City Considers Temporarily Burying People on Public Land


New York City officials are beginning to map out plans to bury victims of the coronavirus on public land as a temporary fix for overhwlemed funeral homes.

The plans were first reported by The New York Times, which quoted Mayor Bill de Blasio as he acknowledged that the city may have to consider temporary burials.

Some city morgues are already past capacity and the number of deaths in the city is expected to continue to rise over the next few weeks.

“If we need to do temporary burials to be able to tide us over to pass the crisis, and then work with each family on their appropriate arrangements, we have the ability to do that,” he said, adding, “We may well be dealing with temporary burials so we can deal with each family later.”

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After his comments, the mayor’s press secretary tried to clarify, “We are not currently planning to use local parks as burial grounds. We are exploring using Hart Island for temporary burials, if the need grows.”

New York City council member Mark Levine said the city was “prepared for the worst” but “continue to hope and pray the worst won’t come to past.”

He also acknowledged that the “normal system for handling the deceased is under strain.”

It may not be New York alone, either. Axios reported that America’s funeral homes are already being crushed by the coronavirus.

FEMA has asked for 100,000 military-style body bags to go toward major cities being hit by the virus. And Massachusetts is already setting up temporary morgues on college campuses.

“This feels like three years of funerals condensed into a month,” Patrick Kearns, a funeral director in Queens, told the website.

He added, “So many of us were worried about the front end of this virus. Unfortunately, the back end of it is something people hadn’t thought about.”

There have now been over 11,000 deaths from coronavirus nationally and nearly 400,000 people have tested positive for the virus.

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Isaac Saul is a senior politics reporter, editor and founding member at A Plus, the positive news oulet founded by Ashton Kutcher. He also writes the independent, non-partisan, ad-free politics newsletter Tangle. His reporting focuses on Congress, elections, immigration and climate change. His writing has appeared in CNN, The New York Daily News, The Forward, Yahoo!, The Huffington Post, Quartz, and been cited by The Washington Post, The New York Times and Fox News, among others. Before A Plus, he was an Associate Editor at The Huffington Post and the sports editor at The Pitt News.

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