New York City crematories are extending their hours, burning bodies into the night. The state has started a running tally of all cremations and burials. City officials are surveying upstate cemeteries for temporary interment sites.
Funeral homes and cemetery directors described a surge in demand unseen in decades from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus that has infected tens of thousands and killed roughly 1,400 in New York City.
A majority of New Yorkers choose cremation over burial, but the most-populous U.S. city has only four crematories: one in the Bronx, one in Brooklyn and two in Queens. New York state has relaxed air-quality regulations to allow crematories to burn for longer hours.
The New York Times reports:
New York City has already set up 45 new mobile morgues. Local crematories are now allowed to work around the clock. At one Brooklyn hospital, the in-house morgue was filled to capacity on Tuesday. The next day, the nursing staff ran out of body bags.
As the coronavirus epidemic enters its second month, the casualties in New York are starting to severely tax the city’s ability to accommodate its dead. With more than 1,000 deaths so far and thousands more projected, city officials are working hard to stave off an emergency.
In the past few days, the city’s medical examiner’s office has taken over the collection of bodies, dispatching the fleet of new refrigerated trailers to hospitals in all five boroughs, some of whose morgues have already filled up.
New York City has set up 45 new mobile morgues, and local crematories are now allowed to work around the clock. At one Brooklyn hospital, the in-house morgue was filled to capacity on Tuesday. https://t.co/7bdia2YoBk
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 2, 2020
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 2, 2020