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Latino State News

Holiday Season Causes Overcrowding at Morgue

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office recently spoke about their overcrowded cooler at the morgue. They had been so crowded that some bodies had to be placed two to a tray.

Describing the reason for the large number of bodies was Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Jones. “We had this huge upswing in deaths right at the end of the year, and with the holidays being on Saturdays, it really created a backlog because the funeral directors weren’t coming in.”

Dr. Jones also explained that, due to coffins being on back order, a number of bodies couldn’t go out. She says the coffins are in now, however, and a mass county burial is scheduled for next week. So right now, “the cooler really isn’t in bad shape,” said the doctor. “We do have a fair number of bodies, but it has had more bodies in it at other times.”

While overflows at the morgue are not common, it has happened before, most notably in 1995, when Chicago was struck with a heat wave that claimed the lives of many. Things became so bad that refrigerator trucks had to be brought in, because even two to a tray wasn’t enough.

So while things were hectic at the morgue recently, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, at 2121 W. Harrison St., Dr. Jones says things under control.