Tags: Coronavirus | burial | new york city parks

NYC Councilman: NYC Parks May Be Used as Temporary Burial Sites

a temporary field hospital to treat covid-19 patients in central park
A temporary field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients set up in Central Park by "Samaritans purse" a charitable organization working with Mount Sinai. One New York councilman is now says public parks may have to be used for temporary burials. (Braulio Jatar/Sipa via AP)

By    |   Monday, 06 April 2020 12:51 PM

New York City parks could soon be used for burial grounds, temporarily.

As city morgues and hospitals hit capacity with corpses, city officials say they may use local parks to temporarily bury bodies, according to the New York Post

In a series of tweets, Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) wrote that the city has started planning for “temporary interment” in New York City parks. “Trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line,” he tweets. 

“It will be done in a dignified, orderly – and temporary – manner. But it will be tough for NYers to take,” Levine wrote in several tweets, “The goal is to avoid scenes like those in Italy, where the military was forced to collect bodies from churches and even off the streets.”

Levine writes the city hospital morgues are filled up. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner sent out 80 refrigerated tractor-trailers to hold 100 bodies to different hospitals around the city and those are mostly filled up, too. He said freezers at OCME facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn will soon be full. 

But that isn’t the case according to OCME spokeswoman Aja Worthy-Davis. She told the New York Post that freezers at agency facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn have “adequate space.”

“We have no plans right now to bury anyone in city parks,” Worthy-Davis said. She said that using the parks is in a previous OCME disaster plan, but “it’s not in the works at this time.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary Freddi Goldstein, also denied the reporter. 

“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,” Goldstein responded to Levine on Twitter. Hart Island is the site of the city's potter's field, where the indigent and unclaimed have traditionally been buried.

More than 2,470 people have died in the city as a result of coronavirus and more than 64,900 people in the city have tested positive for the virus.

After receiving a lot of attention on his tweets, Levine said using the parks is a contingency the city is preparing for, but “if the death rate drops enough it will not be necessary.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about using the parks as temporary burial sites during a press briefing Monday. 

“We may well be dealing with temporary burials, so we can deal with each family later,” the mayor said. “We will have the capacity for temporary burials – that’s all I’m going to say.”

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New York City parks could soon be used for burial grounds, temporarily.
burial, new york city parks
Monday, 06 April 2020 12:51 PM
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