The Pentagon is ordering 100,000 body bags as experts predict the coronavirus will claim the lives of more than 200,000 Americans and a new report has suggested the Trump administration was warned about the threat of coronavirus three years ago but failed to prepare.
New deaths in the US rose by 1,047 to 5,139 by the end of Wednesday and new infections surged by 26,866 to 216,553.
The majority of the country is now on a lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Mail Online reports: “With more than 215,000 cases, the government was expected to get the next 50,000 body bags from a stockpile, however, preparations were being made to triple up as hospitals and morgues became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and were quickly running out of space in states including California and New York.
“Health officials used forklifts to help lift dead bodies onto a refrigerated truck outside New York’s Brooklyn Hospital Center this week and hospitals have been using bed sheets to wrap bodies because they no longer have body bags.
“The COVID-19 death toll in New York City is now 1,139 with 47,439 confirmed cases.
“The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not have a specific delivery date for the military-style remains pouches,” sources told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
“The green nylon body bags are usually distributed to war zones and measure up at 94 inches (7.8 feet) by 38 inches (3.2 feet).
“A source said the bags have not yet been ordered but the Defense Logistics Agency’s Troop Support unit, which manages the Pentagon’s stockpile, was looking into the request.”
A FEMA spokesperson said there will be “prudent planning” that includes preparing for “mortuary contingencies”.
After it was predicted the death toll in the US would hit 200,000, President Trump told the country to brace for a tough time ahead.
“This is going to be a painful two weeks,” Trump said at a White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
“Our strength will be tested, our endurance will be tried.”
On Monday, the Vice Director of Operations for the the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Major General Jeff Taliaferro, said they “are in close partnership” with FEMA to ‘identify what their needs are.
Taliaferro said Monday’s “mission assignments” included requests for prepackaged Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), and ‘other supplies’ as well as “a mission assignment from FEMA for a mortuary affairs support team for New York”.
Taliaferro added they are “in the process of identifying” personnel.
“FEMA is working with state and regional health and emergency managers to distribute pouches where needed,” the report added.
“However a new report has claimed Trump was warned about the devastating effects of a coronavirus on January 6, 2017.”
The USNORTHCOM Branch Plan 3560 states: “The most likely and significant threat is a novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel influenza disease.”
Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease Response, states. “Coronavirus infections [are] common around the world.”
The Pentagon document, obtained by The Nation, leans on findings from 2012’s Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a type of coronavirus, and “‘incorporates insights from several recent outbreaks”.
“The 103-page documents warns that an outbreak could reach pandemic levels due to a number of factors that are the case with the 2019 virus; unsanitary living conditions, crowded workplaces, and proximity to international airports.
“It also warns that it would be worsened by a shortage in PPE.”
Competition for, and scarcity of resources will include…non-pharmaceutical MCM [Medical Countermeasures] (eg, ventilators, devices, personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves), medical equipment, and logistical support, is mentioned in the document.
“This will have a significant impact on the availability of the global workforce.”
New deaths from the coronavirus rose by 908 on Wednesday while new infections across the country increased by 25,676.
“More than 40 percent of the country’s fatal cases come from New York state where the death toll rose by 391 to 1,941. New York state also saw an increase of 7,917 cases to bring the total number of new infections to 83,712.
“New Jersey is second behind New York with 267 deaths and 18,997 infections.
“Michigan now has the third highest death toll in the country after reporting a spike in its figures over night. The state recorded 75 new deaths, bringing its death toll to 259. Michigan has more than 7,600 confirmed cases.
“In NYC, emergency services are responding to around 6,000 calls a day, more than 50 percent above average.”
Trump has said he has been speaking to Germany about buying a vaccine but some experts have said it could be years until one is developed. The Pentagon document also accurately predicts global competition for a vaccine.
Meanwhile, infection rates continue to climb.
“Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday that the last five days have been the busiest stretch in the history of the city’s EMS operation. It comes as FDNY ranks are getting hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 282 personnel infected.
“The death toll in Italy (12,428) and Spain (9,053) is still higher than the United States.”
Trump has warned Americans to brace for a ‘hell of a bad two weeks’ ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.
Trump called it “a matter of life and death” for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
‘I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,’ Trump said. ‘This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country,” he said.
“We’re going to lose thousands of people.”