Pueblo County deploys refrigerated truck to store bodies as COVID-19 deaths increase statewide
The Pueblo County Coroner’s Office said Tuesday that it has set up a mobile morgue in a semitrailer to store extra bodies as COVID-19 deaths continue to climb across Colorado.
The use of the refrigerated truck comes just a day after hope reverberated throughout the state with the arrival of the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, but reflects just how deadly the third wave of the pandemic has become.
Pueblo County Coroner Brian Cotter said the truck was activated Saturday and can store 40 bodies. It’s the first time the coroner’s office has used a mobile morgue in the pandemic, he said.
“We’re reaching critical capacity in morgue spaces in the county right now,” Cotter said, adding, “There’s an overall increase in deaths. I wouldn’t want to speculate why that is.”
Pueblo County has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in Colorado, recording 141 fatalities per 100,000 people. After going most of the year with fewer than 12 coronavirus-related deaths per month, Pueblo County has logged nearly 200 across November and December.
In Denver, the COVID-19 death rate is 84.9 per 100,000 people, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment.
Colorado’s health department has recorded more than 4,000 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began, most of which are directly due to the disease. More than one in four of the state’s total deaths — or 999 fatalities — occurred within a three-week period ending on Dec. 6.
The refrigerator truck will help health care providers, funeral homes and others in the county temporarily store bodies, according to the coroner’s office.
“It will be used for the short-term storage of recently deceased persons awaiting final arrangements,” the Pueblo County Coroner’s Office said in a tweet.
The coroner could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
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