Georgia morgues running out of space due to 'significant increase in COVID related deaths'

A rise in COVID-19 related deaths is overwhelming some Georgia coroners' offices and medical facilities.

Several facilities are running out of morgue space right now due to the significant increase in COVID-related deaths.

Some are even reaching out to the state for help because they don't have anywhere to store these bodies.

Troup County Coroner Erin Hackley told FOX 5 News they currently store their bodies Wellstar West Georgia in LaGrange

She said typically they see about 300 bodies in one year. 

However, because of COVID and other types of death, they've already reached nearly 350 cases with three months left in the year.

"COVID has really exacerbated an existing problem," she told FOX 5 reporter Brian Hill.

Hackley said the morgue inside Wellstar can only hold about five bodies.

Morgues and even funeral homes in many Georgia counties are at capacity as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Morgues and even funeral homes in many Georgia counties are at capacity as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues. (FOX 5)

Because of the significant increase in COVID-related deaths across the county and state, the coroner's office has been forced to find alternative locations to store all of the bodies.

"We haven't had the space at the hospital and then the space has not been available at the funeral homes. So we've had to basically call the surrounding counties and ask for help," Hackley explained. 

Unfortunately, some of those neighboring county-owned morgue facilities and privately owned funeral homes are also running out of space.

"We've just had a large increase in natural deaths...COVID and natural death. They're not all COVID. We've just had a surge in sick people," she mentioned. 

According to GEMA, several facilities in our area including Troup, Spalding, and Upson counties have reached out to them for assistance.

In their requests, they've asked for portable morgues because they're low on space or above capacity.

Aware of this urgent problem in Troup County, the Board of Commissioners recently approved the $20,000 purchase of a permanent morgue facility to be housed at the hospital.

This new storage space will be able to store up to 15 bodies.

"We're up to just under 350 cases for the year total. We usually do about 300 a year," Hackley told us. 

She said their permanent morgue facility will be installed in about 12-weeks. 

It will be purchased using CARES funds.

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