Texas officials and funeral home directors are ordering extra body bags and refrigerated trucks as they prepare for an increase in deaths from Covid-19, which has already killed 3,657 in the state.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending 14 refrigerated trucks to the state next week — on top of the eight already sent — to serve as temporary mortuaries, while some funeral homes are reserving their own trucks from private companies.
“The directors I’ve talked to in the last week are at capacity or over capacity, thus the reason they had to bring in the trailers,” said Gene Allen, president of the Texas Funeral Directors Association.
Travis County, where Austin is located, is in the process of procuring three extra mortuary trucks “out of an abundance of caution,” public information officer Hector Nieto said in an interview.
The state doesn’t yet need the additional mortuary trucks, said Seth Christensen, a spokesman for the Texas Division of Emergency Management. They are on standby in case local municipalities get overrun with Covid-19 deaths.
“We want to be on top of this and prepared in case we have the need,” Christensen said.
FEMA sent eight mortuary trucks to Texas in early April when the state was reporting fewer than 1,000 new cases a day, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The case count has climbed dramatically since then to a record 10,791 new cases on Wednesday, according to the state. On Thursday, 10,291 new infections were confirmed.