Coronavirus News: NYC considers temporary burials if deaths become overwhelming

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Monday, April 6, 2020
de Blasio says temporary burials are being considered if needed
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio says temporary burials are possible, but only if needed

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City could begin burying the city's overwhelming number of dead people in temporary graves, but the Mayor's Office disputed tweets by Councilman Mark Levine on Monday that suggested parks could be used.

City morgues and hospitals are struggling to keep up with the deaths from coronavirus.

"Soon we'll start "temporary internment". This likely will be done by using a NYC park for burials (yes you read that right). Trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line," Levine tweeted. "It will be done in a dignified, orderly--and temporary--manner. But it will be tough for NYers to take."

Levine added later that this is "a contingency NYC is preparing for BUT if the death rate drops enough it will not be necessary."

"We are NOT currently planning to use local parks as burial grounds. We are exploring using Hart Island for temporary burials, if the need grows," mayor spokesperson Freddi Goldstein said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about the possibility during a morning news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but he declined to go into details out of response for the families.

"I'm not going to go into those kind of details, I'm only going to say we will have the capacity we need. What I said over the weekend, we may very well be dealing with temporary burials. So we can then deal with each family later. But again, I'm just not going into detail, when we have something to say on it, we will," the Mayor said.

When asked again what a "temporary burials," would mean, the Mayor was reluctant to go into further detail.

"Again, it is what it says, if we need to do temporary burials to be able to tie this over, to pass the crisis, and then to work with each family on their appropriate arrangements, we have the ability to do that," he added.

De Blasio later added that historically the place the city has "used is Hart Island," but reiterated again that although there may be delays, New York City still has the capacity to deal with the influx of dead.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner also told ABC News there are no plans currently to bury coronavirus victims in New York City parks.

For the moment temporary burials, as the mayor mentioned, would occur on Hart's Island off the Bronx.


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