UPDATE: An update to this article was to include comments from the Mayor of NYC and the Governor of New York state.
According to a statement made by one New York City Councilman, the city has a contingency plan for using public parks for large, 10 person graves if the current death toll in the city continues to mount at increasing rates.
In a series of tweets earlier, Levine said they morgues and even temporary storage trucks and facilities were filling up with COVID victims faster than arrangements could be made for the remains and laid out the city’s contingency plan for dealing with a surplus of remains.
Levine stated that the action was to avoid situations with dealing with remains in hard hit countries such as Italy, where the military has had to temporarily collect and store COVID victims remains.
After the tweets gained considerable media coverage, Levine released the following tweet clarifying that the measure was just an emergency contingency plan and was not necessarily going to be put into action:
When asked about the plan, NY Governor Cuomo said he was not aware of any active plans or efforts for burials in parks. “I have heard a lot of wild rumors but I have not heard anything about the city burying people in parks,” Mr. Cuomo said.
According to the NY Times, “Temporary burials are part of a 2008 plan prepared by the city medical examiner’s office to deal with a pandemic. “Tier One” of the plan involves storing bodies in freezer trucks and easing restrictions on crematories. The city has already taken those steps.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said while there were no active burials taking place, “If we need to do temporary burials to be able to tide us over to pass the crisis and then work with each family on their appropriate arrangements, we have the ability to do that,” when asked about Levine’s comments later in the day.
Levine is the Chair of New York City Council health committee and a the Councilman Representing District 7, Uptown Manhattan, New York City.
New York City has already seen 2,000+ deaths in a very short amount of time, and those numbers are expected to surge in the next week or so, as the city hits the peak of its coronavirus infection.
As of today, over 330,000 infections have been reported in the United States along with over 9,000 deaths being attributed to the virus. Worldwide there are over 1.2 million cases and over 70,000 deaths reported. New York State, and specifically New York City and the surrounding areas remain the hardest hit areas in the United States.