Cal OES deploys refrigerated trailers in response to rising COVID-19 death toll

Local News

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — As deaths attributed to COVID-19 climb across California, the state has responded with a series of plans in an effort to make sure morgues are not overwhelmed.

The Sacramento County Health Department said 38 new deaths were reported Monday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 1,015.

Sacramento County has gone from an average of 70 new COVID-19 cases a day back in October to 800 new cases a day, with officials saying there’s potential to skyrocket even more in the weeks to come.

And in the last month alone, 272 people have lost their lives to the virus.

In response, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services activated its Statewide Multi-Casualty and Coroner Mutual Aid Plans.

“Fortunately, due to the governor’s stay-at-home order, we did not have to invoke the mass fatality program that we have for the state of California from Cal OES, but what we did was to procure 78 refrigeration trucks that were donated from the Hub Group out of Chicago, Illinois,” said Cal OES Law Enforcement Chief Mark Pazin.

These refrigerated trailers have been distributed by Cal OES to several counties, including Imperial, Sonoma, San Bernardino, Monterey and Los Angeles counties, along with the most recent Santa Clara County.

As of now, no mutual aid requests have been made by Sacramento County.

When the need does come, Pazin said they are ready to handle the outcome with the utmost respect.

“We want to get the proper refrigeration units for those persons who have passed away. They’re not going to be thrown on the ground. They’re not going to be lumped in some floorboard in a non-descript area. We want to be sure to show the necessary compassion,” he said. “We don’t want to double down the anxiety and the hurt people are feeling right now.”

According to Sacramento County Coroner Kimberly Gin, if the death toll continues to climb, they have the extra space available, including a 52-foot refrigerated truck used during the Camp Fire to properly care for those who have died. 

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