Bodies of COVID-19 victims in New York forklifted into storage trucks as morgues fill up

Refrigerator trucks are brought into New York City to store bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Refrigerator trucks are brought into New York City to store bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Getty

Hospital staff have been loading bodies into trucks using forklifts as New York City becomes the new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Refrigerated trucks have been brought into the city to store bodies of deceased coronavirus patients as the death toll soars.

Only one week ago New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said there was still room for COVID-9 victims in the city morgues.

There have now been over 900 deaths in New York of 3600 coronavirus related deaths in the United States so far.

"The numbers are staggering," de Blasio said on Sunday. "This is unprecedented."

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional director Thomas Von Essen said on Monday the company will be sending 85 more refrigerated trucks to New York to cope with the increasing number of victims, the New York Post reported. 

It is expected to double the city's morgue capacity from 3500 to 7000.

The last time the trucks had been deployed to New York was for the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A forklift is used in New York.
A forklift is used in New York. Photo credit: Getty

Photos and footage have been posted online of the dead being put into the trucks, including one video of healthcare workers at Brooklyn Hospital Centre in Fort Greene using forklifts to load bodies.

"This is for real. This is Brooklyn," the man who filmed it said. "This may make you want to take this serious."

Hospital spokeswoman Eileen Tynion told the New York Post they regretted that the incident could be filmed and will try to "communicate more thoughtfully with the community in the future".

"We are doing what every hospital in New York City is doing in preparing for a surge in everything — patients who need care and a surge in patients who expire."

One medical professional shared a photo with Buzzfeed of the inside of one of the trucks where body bags lined the vehicle's sides.

"It is the ghastly reality of what we deal with and where some of us have ended up already," the 38-year-old said.

He said one of the victims was a 71-year-old female patient he had been comforting only a few days ago.