COVID-19 deaths straining some Florida hospital morgues


MIAMI (WFLA) — One of Florida’s largest health networks is seeing the capacity of its hospital morgues strained amid a spike in seriously ill COVID-19 patients and a backup at funeral homes.

While virus-related hospitalizations in the state recently started leveling off, the number of daily reported deaths is continuing to climb. The central Florida division of AdventHealth says it has to put more resources in place to store more bodies.

The Orlando Sentinel reported the health system had reached morgue capacity at 10 of its hospitals in five counties: Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia.

“We have begun utilizing rented, refrigerated coolers at 10 of our campuses,” the hospital group said in an email obtained by the newspaper. “These coolers are quickly becoming filled also.”

Funeral directors have warned that their facilities are being overwhelmed including those in the Tampa Bay area.

Funeral Director Wayne Bright told 8 On Your Side this week that he has been forced to tell relatives, they cannot bury their loved ones for at least two weeks.

He added that the situation is so dire right now many cemeteries are unable to accommodate any more services with so many funerals back to back every day.

“I have services scheduled for next week. I have a service schedule for the week after that. If someone wanted services this week, I would not be able to accommodate that,” he said.

The federal government says Florida hospitals have reported roughly 279 patients dying every day for the past week. A month ago, that figure stood at 52.

More than 151,760 new coronavirus cases were reported across the state of Florida this week. The nationwide total of COVID-19 cases now stands at 38,500,016 since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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