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Dozens of dead bodies stored in unrefrigerated trucks amid coronavirus backlog
May 1, 2020
The city of New York delivered a freezer truck to the funeral home on Wednesday as an eyewitness saw bodies in a U-Haul van and said two vans and a truck were parked outside the funeral home. ABC News reported about 100 bodies were stored in the vehicles after the owner of the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services funeral home said the freezer that normally stores bodies stopped working. It was not clear how long the bodies had been stored in the U-Hauls or whether any were COVID-19 victims.
A New York resident told RT: “They’ve been doing this for weeks now.
“They’re filing up the trucks and trailers with bodies and they’re letting them sit on the street.”
The state’s Health Commissioner has announced an investigation into the funeral home.
New York City has been at the epicentere of the global coronavirus pandemic and the city’s funeral homes have been overwhelmed.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 18,000 people have died of COVID-19 in America’s biggest city, according to a Reuters tally.
Funeral homes say they are facing weeks-long backlogs to bury or cremate the dead.
It comes as the city’s subway is taking the unprecedented step of halting overnight service in order to clean train cars, a likely prelude to bigger changes as the largest US mass transit system works to rebound from a pandemic that has slashed ridership.
The subway system, whose more than 600 miles of track criss-cross four of New York’s five boroughs, will close between 1am and 5 am beginning May 6 to allow crews to disinfect the cars each night to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.
The city’s buses will also be cleaned every night, he said.
Commuter advocates and transit experts saw the move, the first for a subway system known for its round-the-clock service, as signaling a period of sweeping change for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state-controlled agency that oversees a system that until recently carried 9 million passengers a day.
The MTA is talking with transport agencies around the world to glean best practices while looking at how to enforce social distancing and at staggered hours for businesses returning to work, an issue being discussed with governors and corporate and labor leaders, a spokesman for the agency said.
MTA’s plan to “bring riders back” to the transit system will focus on safety, the agency’s spokeswoman, Abbey Collins, said.
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“We will also be asking our customers to change their behavior, including wearing face coverings.”
The changes come as the MTA grapples with a more than 90 percent decline in subway ridership as New York locked down to fight the coronavirus. The agency has also stopped collecting bus fares in order to protect its drivers, further denting revenues.
Earlier this month MTA Chairman Pat Foye asked for another $3.9 billion (£3.1billion) in federal aid, on top of the $3.8 billion £3billion) already allocated to the agency, to cover pandemic-related costs expected to climb as high as $8.5 billion (£6.8billion).
Foye has said federal funding also is needed to preserve a $51.5 billion (£41.2billion) capital budget for 2020-2024 aimed at modernizing the subway’s antiquated signal systems and expansion projects.