NEWS
13/07/2020 8:26 AM AEST

Arizona, Texas Officials Order Morgue Trucks In Latest Sign Of Rising COVID-19 Rates

White House officials told Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego that everything is under control and that she's being too demanding, she said.

Phoenix and some Texas counties are ordering morgue trucks, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the states move into the next chilling phase: an overwhelming death toll.

Even as Arizona county morgues are reaching capacity, White House officials insisted to Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego recently that everything is under control and that she’s being too demanding of them, she told a local TV station on Friday. 

“I’m heartbroken ... It’s been a rough week for me,” Gallego said. “We are losing too many Arizonans.”

She again urged Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to issue a face mask mandate for the state. She and other mayors are also pleading with Ducey to restrict business activity to help stem the spread of the disease.

The morgue at Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is at 96% capacity. County officials said in a statement that they are working with the local Department of Emergency Management to “secure a contract for refrigerator trucks.”

The city’s largest hospital network, Abrazos Health, has also ordered “refrigerated storage,” even though it currently has “adequate morgue space,” according to officials.

Arizona is steadily breaking records for daily new cases of COVID-19. Cases in the state hit nearly 120,000 on Saturday, and it’s had 2,151 deaths, according to the state health department.

Gallego said Phoenix is the “largest city in the country that has not yet received federal surge testing” help, even though she has been requesting it “for months.” The Trump administration told Gallego to send residents to Walgreens for testing, triggering long lines in crushing Arizona heat for the few available tests at the stores. Federal officials recently told Gallego that they will step up testing efforts.

Morgues are also overwhelmed in Texas, where COVID-19 cases hit another daily record — 10,351 — on Saturday, pushing the total to more than 255,000 cases, with 3,174 deaths.

The morgue in Nueces County, where Corpus Christi is located, hit capacity on Wednesday and ordered a second refrigerated truck from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

“That’s why we’re asking people to wear face masks,” Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales told NBC affiliate KRIS-TV. “I am now having to order additional body bags and morgue trailers. People have to understand how real it is.”

Morgues in Texas’ Travis, Cameron and Hidalgo Counties now either have refrigerator trailers for the dead, or have ordered them, The Texas Tribune reported.

A particularly chilling sign of the death rates from COVID-19 at the height of the coronavirus surge in New York City were the white semi-trailer morgue trucks lined up outside a number of hospitals. 

The nation hit another record of 66,000 new cases in a single day on Friday. Nearly 135,000 Americans have died of the disease.


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