Amid fears of an even greater surge next week, New York City is now seeing about 12 deaths an hour from COVID-19, with 1,867 total coronavirus fatalities reported in New York City, an increase of 305 in a 24-hour period, the New York City Health Department announced Friday evening.
The agency also announced a significant jump in the number of cases of COVID-19. There are now 56,289 positive cases of the novel coronavirus in New York City, a 13% increase in a 24-hour period. 11,739 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 in New York City.
Morgue space is almost full in New York City, according to FEMA records reviewed by ABC News. Funeral homes in the city are also overwhelmed.
Eighty-five refrigerated trucks have been ordered from the military to hold the dead. The trucks are due in New York by the middle of April.
FEMA has requested that the Defense Department make available 100,000 body bags to assist state health agencies with mortuary affairs. The request comes as the White House revealed this week that as many as 240,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus.
Earlier this week, FEMA requested that a DOD mortuary affairs support team deploy to New York state, according to Vice Director of Operations for the Joint Staff Maj. Gen. Jeff Taliaferro. That team arrived in New York on Wednesday, and a second mortuary affairs support team is expected to be deployed elsewhere in the United States, a U.S. official told.
New York City funeral homes are also overwhelmed. Funeral directors are being squeezed on one side by inundated hospitals trying to offload bodies, and on the other by the fact that cemeteries and crematoriums are booked for a week at least, sometimes two. The surge in deaths is coming at a time when there are tight restrictions on gatherings, making saying goodbye a lonely process.
The morgue capacity in New York City is already small, with room for only 900 bodies across five boroughs. The lack of resources has forced healthcare providers such as Bellevue Hospital to set up a makeshift morgue to house patients who have died from the flu-like disease that has shuttered businesses and hampered movement worldwide.
On March 20, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo instructed all nonessential residents to stay home and has repeatedly stressed the need for medical equipment to deal with the sharp rise in coronavirus patients.
New York City has been the epicenter of the disease in the United States, with more than 17,500 people listed as infected by a Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker.