The grimmest task: Workers use forklift to stack bodies in refrigerated truck outside Brooklyn hospital – as morgues and cemeteries are overwhelmed

  • At least 16 bodies were removed from Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday
  • Workers using a forklift loaded the remains into refrigerated mobile morgue truck
  • Cemeteries and morgues warn that they are completely overwhelmed by those who’ve been infected
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Outside of a hospital in Brooklyn, workers have been spotted using a forklift to load bodies into a refrigerated morgue truck in stark scenes that make the human cost of the coronavirus pandemic all too clear.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, at least 16 bodies were removed from Brookdale Hospital Center in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, which like other New York City hospitals has been stretched to the brink by the crisis.  

It came as U.S. deaths in the pandemic exceeded those reported in China, with the New York City epicenter alone accounting for 914 deaths and more than 38,000 confirmed cases.

At Brookdale, two bodies were carried side by side on the tines of the forklift at times and loaded into the waiting morgue truck. 

Stunned workers grimly did their duty, removing the bodies as quickly as possible to free up crucial hospital space and lessen the morale blow to hospital staff and patients inside.

Workers are now loading the the dead by forklift two at at time at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn

Stunned workers grimly did their duty, removing the bodies as quickly as possible to free up crucial hospital space and lessen the morale blow to hospital staff and patients inside

t came as U.S. deaths in the pandemic exceeded those reported in China, with the New York City epicenter alone accounting for 914 deaths and more than 38,000 confirmed cases

A hospital employee takes a break from working inside a temporary mobile morgue, put in place due to lack of space at the hospital, outside of the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday

A handful of horrified onlookers paused as they went about vital tasks on the nearly empty sidewalks, hardly believing what they saw.

‘No one should see a body being loaded with a forklift on a public street,’ passerby Lydia Ramirez, 32, told the New York Post. 

‘It’s really sad and disturbing to see. At least put up a tarp or a tent, if for no other reason than for the dignity of the deceased’s family,’ she said. 

Even hospital staff could hardly believe the sight, staring aghast out of the building’s windows. 

Inside, the scenes were even worse, however. ‘The hospitals look like a war zone,’ Dr Emad Youssef of Brookdale told CBS News last week. ‘People lining up out of the hallway, through the EMS bay, through the ambulance bay, with masks on themselves, with oxygen on their nose.’  

Even hospital staff could hardly believe the sight, staring aghast out of the building’s windows

Hospital employees transfer a body on a forklift to a temporary mobile morgue, put in place due to lack of space

‘It’s really sad and disturbing to see. At least put up a tarp or a tent, if for no other reason than for the dignity of the deceased’s family,’ said one onlooker

The grim scenes come as medical staff are now loading the the dead by forklift as the public walk past on the open street

Hospital employees transfer a body into a temporary mobile morgue, put in place due to lack of space at the hospital, outside of the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday

The use of the forklift was first revealed by a Facebook user who posted a video clip on Sunday, clearly emotional at the sight.

‘Y’all, this s**t is for real,’ the man exclaimed with a trembling voice.

‘Sorry the camera is shaking, but this is for real, y’all, this is for real.’

A spokeswoman for the hospital said Tuesday that screens to cover the loading area from public view had been ordered, and the hospital was waiting for their arrival. 

It came as New York City’s cemeteries, morgues and funeral homes reported being completely overwhelmed by the death toll.

Bodies were also transferred by stretcher as workers rushed to move them into the temporary mobile morgue

Two funeral cars did come to pick some of the dead up from the coronavirus pandemic at Brookdale on Tuesday

Workers load one of the bodies into a funeral home hearse. Undertakers have been overwhelmed by the crisis

New York State Funeral Directors Association director Mike Lanotte said religious cemeteries are operating under reduced manpower because of social distancing protocols to reduce the risk to staff.

‘They’re not able to bury as many people in a day as they normally would and that’s a concern because if there’s a large number of cemeteries that start to do this, we’re going to start to have — for lack of a better word — a bottleneck,’ Lanotte told the New York Post. 

‘You’re going to have people’s caskets, remains, unable to be buried and that could create a backlog and a public health problem,’ he said.

Some of the city’s funeral homes are already ‘stretched to capacity’ and others are ‘helping twice as many families as they normally would,’ Lanotte said. 

Lanotte added that the city’s morgues are ‘at the brink if not in a state of excess capacity.’

The city currently has space for about 3,500 bodies after adding mobile morgues to handle coronavirus deaths.

It came as New York City’s cemeteries, morgues and funeral homes reported being completely overwhelmed by the death toll

New York state now has 75,795 cases of coronavirus – an increase of 9,298 since Monday – and 1550 have died

The death toll across the state of New York rose by 332 overnight and is not yet showing signs of slowing down

The US has now surpassed China in the number of infections and deaths; there are now more than 181,000 cases in the US

Patrick Marmo, an undertaker in Brooklyn, epidemic is straining his industry to a breaking point.

‘I don’t know how many more bodies I can take,’ Marmo told Business Insider. ‘No one in the New York City area possibly has enough equipment to care for human remains of this magnitude.

New York state now has 75,795 cases of coronavirus – an increase of 9,298 since Monday – and 1550 have died, Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed on Tuesday as he admitted ‘no one knows’ when the pandemic will end and said the entire country ‘underestimated it’.

Speaking at a wide-ranging press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo told of how he was unifying the state’s private and public healthcare systems to operate as one before the pandemic ‘apex’ in the state hits.

He admitted he does not know when it will come and that data projections he looks at suggest it could happen anytime between seven and 21 days from now.

The death toll across the state of New York rose by 332 overnight and is not yet showing signs of slowing down. The new numbers for how many new cases and new deaths there are in New York City have not yet been given.

The US has now surpassed China in the number of infections and deaths; there are now more than 181,000 cases in the US and 3,699 people have died.

Gov. Cuomo told people to settle in for a longer period of crisis than they were anticipating and said ‘we still have to come back down the other side of the mountain’ even after the peak happens.

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