The COVID-19 summer surge is killing enough people that Orange County’s hospitals are asking for help with full morgues.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, responding Thursday to a question from WFTV Channel 9 news, acknowledged he had been advised that “some hospitals” are having so many patients die of COVID-19 that their morgues are full and are asking for help.
Without an emergency order from Gov. Ron DeSantis, Demings said he is not sure what local officials can do. But he said he and his administration are looking into it.
WFTV Channel 9 and the Orlando Sentinel are reporting Thursday that AdventHealth, a huge system of hospitals throughout greater Orlando, has turned to rented, mobile refrigerated units because of overflow.
“We were notified that even those facilities that offer cremation, some of them are at capacity. And, yes, we were made aware that some of our hospitals are at capacity,” Demings said at his Thursday biweekly news conference.
Orange County officially reported 19 new COVID-19 deaths since Demings’ news conference on Monday.
Statewide, the Miami Herald reported Thursday that Florida reported 901 new COVID-19 deaths to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in one day, Thursday. That number could cover batches of death reports from numerous days that arrived together covering multiple days.
But the dramatic, tragic surge in deaths is evident.
Earlier this week, Florida Politics reported that Florida was averaging more than 200 deaths per day through last week. The previous worst week in the coronavirus pandemic came in January, when Florida averaged 185 deaths per day.
Demings said it is unclear yet what local authorities can do.
“It is undefined at this time. There are detailed plans for the state of Florida for these types of situations that may occur. It may require a request to the state for additional refrigeration units to be deployed,” Demings said. “We’re just doing an assessment at this point to determine how critical that is. So we don’t have the final answer today.”
Dr. Raul Pino, the Orange County health officer with the Florida Department of Health, said such requests need to come to the Florida Department of Emergency Management.
“I’m not surprised this has happened. It has happened in the past,” Pino said.