STARK COUNTY, Ohio — The bodies are piling up and there’s no place for them to go.
"Over the Thanksgiving weekend we became completely filled out here at the morgue,” said Stark County Coroner Dr. Anthony Bertin.
Bertin says he reached out to the state with his overcrowding issue and they gave him a refrigerated trailer where he can store extra bodies.
"This year at Thanksgiving time, we exceeded 600 cases here at the Stark County morgue. A year ago we were at 535 so we’re way ahead on the number of cases we're seeing,” said Bertin.
The coroner says he believes the up-tick in deaths is not because of folks dying from COVID-19 directly, it’s the circumstances surrounding it.
"The fallout we're seeing from COVID as far as the increased suicides, domestic violence, and alcohol-related deaths,” said Bertin.
Bertin says his office is also seeing an increase of cases where there’s no family to claim the body.
"We have to store those bodies until we can get a disposition as to what to do with the bodies,” he said.
The morgue where there’s room for 12 bodies in the coolers and four in the freezer is filled, so the trailer will make room for 18 more.
"I’d like to keep it here for at least the next three to four weeks,” said Bertin.
When the coroner originally reached out to the state, local hospitals were overwhelmed too but now, a spokesperson for Mercy Medical Center says it’s doing ok.
“At this time, the morgues at Mercy Medical Center have capacity so there is no issue. Mercy continues to work with the Stark County Emergency Management Agency to address any future problems that might arise,” said Cindy Hickey, Mercy Medicals VP of PR & Marketing.
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