HORROR images showing the bodies of coranavirus victims loaded on the back off a pick-up reveal how morgues are being pushed to breaking point.
The photos show a Ford truck stacked with bagged corpses outside the Joseph W. Spellman Medical Examiner's Office in Philadelphia.
They emerged as it was revealed New York City is to begin temporarily storing the remains of victims in freezer trucks – which can store the dead for a year.
Hospitals are already using refrigerated trailers to stack bodies after local morgues were swamped with those killed during the pandemic.
Now instead of burying the dead on Hart Island – as previously planned – the city will move bodies from morgues and refrigerated trailers to the Brooklyn-based trucks.
The transfers will take place over the next few days before decomposition sets in, the NY Daily News reported.
The move should also give families extra time to make funeral arrangements.
"Our hearts break for families across our city as they make difficult decisions on how best to honor their loved ones," said a spokeswoman for Bill de Blasio .
"During these painful times, we want to ensure that families can lay their loved ones to rest when they are ready, knowing that we will keep them safe until the time is right."
The NY Mayor has pledged burials on the island in the Bronx will only take place if morgues run out of options.
His city currently has more than 134,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 9,500 people have died – the highest toll in the US.
Sunday's upsetting pick-up truck images from Philadelphia are being seen as a modern day version of the gruesome paintings which depicted the horror of the bubonic plague which ravaged the UK nearly 400 years ago.
The Great Plague killed an estimated 100,000 people – almost a quarter of London's population – in just 18 months in 1665 and 1666.
The Medical Examiner’s Office has since confirmed that around half a dozen bodies were delivered from a local hospital in "an unapproved manner."
The bodies were brought to the center to be stored in refrigerated trailers due to chronic overcrowding at hospitals and funeral parlors around the city.
According to a photographer at the scene the driver pulled the bodies by their feet to the edge of the truck bed, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
They were then said to have been offloaded one at a time onto gurneys and wheeled up a ramp into a refrigerated trailer.
“It is absolutely counter to existing and longstanding Medical Examiner’s Office’s normal transfer protocols,” said Communications Director James Garrow.
He added "the transferring hospital was strongly reminded of those protocols.”
Garrow would not name the hospital but written on two of the white body bags were the words 'Albert Einstein Medical' and 'Einstein Med Center.'
Garrow said he did not know and would not know if all or any of the people in the truck had died of coronavirus.
The Einstein Healthcare Network, which operates the Einstein Medical Center, said it was demanding an update on pandemic protocols from its transportation contractor.
“We deeply apologize," the statement said, "and are making every effort to ensure we continue to provide the respectful, compassionate care that we are known for.”
Bodies are usually transported from hospitals to morgues and funeral homes in special trucks built for the purpose.
However, the World Health Organization guidance indicates the shocking incident was not a genuine threat to the public.
Cadavers do not transmit disease, except in limited, particular circumstances during an autopsy, the agency has previously advised..
There’s no evidence of someone becoming infected from exposure to the bodies of people who died from COVID-19, it said.
Pennsylvania has been hit by more than 34,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 1,300 deaths.
The majority of those are in Philadelphia where there are over 9,500 cases of the virus and there have been 370 deaths to date.
Meanwhile Donald Trump has affirmed his pledge to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States on Tuesday as he continues in the fight against the "invisible enemy" coronavirus.
The president said the measure will be in effect for 60 days and was "to protect American workers" from being undercut during the crisis.
Trump plans to institute the ban through an executive order, which he said he was likely to sign on Wednesday.
He said the suspension will then be re-evaluated and his administration will be examining additional immigration-related measures.
Trump made the announcement at the daily coronavirus news briefing on Tuesday.
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