Police officers recently came across a gruesome scene when they discovered two unrefrigerated trucks outside of a Brooklyn funeral home. Those trucks housed dozens of victims who died due to complications from the novel coronavirus.
According to CBS New York, the cops arrived at Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services after receiving complaints from neighborhood residents about a foul odor that had lingered for weeks. Upon their arrival, they searched the funeral home and the U-Haul trucks parked outside.
Reports claimed that the funeral home was so overwhelmed by the number of bodies that needed to be prepared, it required extra storage in the trucks, where “dozens” of bodies were left piled up.
New York has seen the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, with around 165,000 confirmed cases and close to 13,000 deaths due to the disease.
In fact, recent studies have suggested that over 20 percent of all New York City residents had been infected with COVID-19 at some point.
Despite the circumstances, funeral homes are still required by law to store bodies in proper conditions and to sanitize them thoroughly. These requirements are particularly important after research has shown that the coronavirus can be transmitted by the dead.
Though the improper storage of the bodies is not a criminal offense, the funeral home will likely receive citations.
A funeral home in NYC was caught storing over 50 bodies in unrefrigerated U-Haul trucks. Police were called after neighbors reported an "odor coming from a truck."
The city's funeral homes have struggled to keep up, with at least 18,000 deaths from coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/1YBAWjCE7l
— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 30, 2020
Neighbors have slammed the behavior of the funeral home.
“They were unloading bodies. They had bodies all over the floor inside the funeral home. They came out one by one, blood dripping. And those guys that was [sic] working, they’re eating with nothing in their hands. No masks, no gloves, nothing,” one man described.
“Oh, the smell, forget it. It was overwhelming,” he added.
“If it was my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, they’re not respecting the dead. I’d be very upset,” said another neighbor.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams voiced concerns that the situation could be traumatizing to a neighborhood that has already suffered during the pandemic. As a result, he has decided to assemble a bereavement committee to help funeral homes handle being at max capacity.
New York state officials have been aware for some time that many funeral service providers have been overwhelmed by the rising demand caused by the crisis. The situation has become so untenable that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order allowing families to use out-of-state funeral services earlier this month.
“I’ve talked to funeral directors who’ve been practicing for 30 or 40 years who said they’ve never seen anything like this in their life,” explained Mike Lanotte, the executive director and CEO of the New York State Funeral Directors Association, per Politico.