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Mortuary trailer for COVID-19 victims sought as funeral home sees spike in services

Mortuary trailer for COVID-19 victims sought as funeral home sees spike in services
Posted at 8:52 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 23:34:31-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Corpus Christi funeral home is conducting two to three services each day in an attempt to keep up with the growing number of deaths from COVID-19.

That's more than twice their normal rate, and often the funerals are for two or even three members of the same family who contracted and then died from the novel coronavirus around the same time.

"This is kind of what we saw the first wave around," Saxet Funeral Home Licensed Funeral Director Noe Lopez II said. "This time around, it’s coming back with a vengeance. It’s very overwhelming."

The increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths, many of them linked to the more contagious and deadly Delta variant, is not limited to the Coastal Bend.

Numbers are up across Texas, and it has the Department State Health Services calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send five more mortuary trailers to store the bodies of the victims in refrigeration.

The trailers should arrive in San Antonio in a week or two before being dispatched to communities that need them the most across the state.

The Nueces County Medical Examiner's office already has a mortuary trailer, and they're currently not in need of more room for bodies.

But local health leaders say that need could present itself as the new coronavirus wave continues, and that's why they put in a request for a trailer last month as the surge was just beginning.

“We request just in anticipation," Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health Director Annette Rodriguez said. "If you have a lot of deaths, you need a place to put them. So you need to request this. It sounds morbid, but it’s something you do need to plan for.”

There's no word yet from the state on which communities will get the mortuary trailers.

Lopez thinks Nueces County deserves one, judging from the increase in the number of distraught families seeking out his services.

“It would be very helpful, because a lot of funeral homes are just not able to keep up with the amount of cases coming through," he said. "And so getting permits and the delay it puts on the cremation process keeps bodies here a little longer than we would like."