TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner announced on Friday, July 10, that it is helping funeral homes store bodies, but it is not directly connected to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Pima County OME said “capacity has gradually become an issue over the past couple of weeks, which can mostly be attributed to a slowdown in the funerary process amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The OME also said some the remains “may include some who have died from COVID-19 but not all are pandemic victims.”
KOLD News 13′s Melissa Egan is working on this story, but the news release from the Pima County OME can be found below.
The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner has begun a process to provide additional capacity for hospitals, funeral homes and mortuaries to store human remains.
Capacity has gradually become more of an issue over the past couple of weeks in Pima County, which can mostly be attributed to a slowdown in the funerary process amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The remains of those decedents who will be stored with the Office of the Medical Examiner may include some who have died from COVID-19 but not all are pandemic victims.
The Pima County Medical Examiner will cooperate with hospitals, funeral homes and mortuaries as the industry works with families to provide services for the deceased. Pima County does not anticipate long-term storage of remains will be necessary.
The Office has capacity to store the remains of 150 people in addition to its usual census.
The County has excess storage capacity for decedents as a function of the work the Medical Examiner does to identify and repatriate the remains of deceased migrants.
The Pima County Health Department said the need for the county to provide relief for some hospitals and funeral homes is not associated with any known surge of COVID-19-related deaths – the County reported no COVID-19 deaths yesterday – but instead appears tied to backlogs in the funeral industry.
The County will be not be making anyone available for interviews or allow filming at the Medical Examiner’s Office storage area. Media are encouraged to contact the state board of funeral directors, area funeral homes, mortuaries or hospitals for more information.