Coronavirus

Demand High For Refrigerated Trailers to Store Bodies of COVID-19 Victims

Riverside County Emergency Management Department officials say the rising number of COVID-19 related deaths has caused a ripple effect and it's only getting worse.

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Health officials say they are renting refrigerated trailers to store the rising number of people who are dying from COVID-19 complications.

The demand for the containers is getting higher in the Inland Empire.

Workers at Mid-State Containers have been getting 40-foot refrigerated containers ready to ship out. Usually they would go to companies that need cold storage for products.

"You have farmers, wineries, breweries, you have pharmaceutical companies," said Mid-State Containers managing director Jake Knotts. "This is the first time we've experienced hospitals and morgues and mortuaries calling us asking us for immediate cold storage because they are kind of in a crisis mode."

Knotts says over the past few weeks his company has rented out dozens of containers to hospitals and morgues all over the state, most of them in Southern California where the COVID-19 death toll continues to climb daily.

"We are seeing a real big demand for San Bernardino and Riverside counties right now," Knotts said. "We have eight scheduled to go to Riverside County starting this week."

Riverside County Emergency Management Department officials say the rising number of COVID-19 related deaths has caused a ripple effect and it's only getting worse.

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"The increase in fatalities is impacting everybody who deals with the mortuary business," Shane Reichardt, a spokesman for the Riverside County EMD. "Processing the deceased takes longer. That means it's backing up in our hospitals."

Knotts says Mid-State Containers will be shipping many more containers, some across the nation, but mostly in California.

"We expect to be deploying at least 60 to 70 containers over the next six weeks for this COVID response," he said.

It's a grim reminder of the toll this pandemic is taking on lives everywhere.

"It's very sobering," Knotts said. "It's very eye opening. It shows that this is real."

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