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McLennan County's mobile morgue in use amid rising COVID-19 deaths

Posted at 8:03 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 21:03:06-05

WACO, TX — "We are seeing higher numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths," said Kelly Craine of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.

Not even halfway through December, health officials are already looking at some troubling statistics as we head towards the new year.

"Since December 1st, which was last week, we've had over 25 deaths," Craine said. "That's a record for the amount of deaths we've had in one month, and we're not even close to being finished."

A refrigerated mobile morgue requested by the Waco-McLennan Department of Emergency Management is in use, according to Waco city leaders and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. During Wednesday's weekly press conference with local officials, Waco Mayor Dillon Meek made the announcement.

"As I signed last week, the Waco-McLennan County Emergency Management Office has preemptively requested and received a refrigerated trailer from the capital-area Trauma Regional Advisory Center to be used as a temporary morgue," he said.

In Wednesday's meeting and in a phone call on Thursday, Mayor Meek confirmed the morgue is in use.

"At this time there are four remains in the morgue," he said.

Meek expanded upon the announcement during the Wednesday meeting, stating that the development doesn't mean every mortuary service in the area is at capacity.

"The mortuary service that handles most of the cremation and embalming for the funeral homes in McLennan and surrounding counties is the one experiencing capacity issues," Meek said. "The other funeral homes are not experiencing any issues beyond the normal increase that it sees at this time of year."

Craine concurred, stating that the numbers on capacity levels can fluctuate.

"Of course it's space, and it's also about staffing and providing services," she said. "Not all funeral homes provide mortuary services, and so they work with other facilities to help them with that."

Craine says the mobile morgue currently has 40 spaces and will work as an essential way to allow more space during a time when we could see added pressure on funeral homes.

"I would definitely say we were on a high number, and that is concerning," she said.

During Wednesday's meeting, Dr. Ben Wilson of the Family Health Center took time to reiterate the basics the McLennan County community should continue to practice during this time.

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when indoors and outdoors
  • Stay home as much as possible until the surge subsides
  • Avoid drinking and dining inside restaurants or bars
  • Remember six feet of social distance from all members outside of your household

Both Craine and Meek stressed the importance of COVID-19 precautions, especially when a brighter future with a vaccine is in sight.