Skip to Content

Yes, That’s a Morgue Overflow Truck

The relentlessness of COVID-19 is pushing our state healthcare system to the brink.

3:40 PM CST on December 20, 2021

At the onset of COVID-19, way back in early 2020, morgue trucks began appearing in New York City streets to store the dead bodies hospitals couldn't fit. They served as eerie, visceral reminders of the horrific toll the pandemic has taken on human life.

Now, almost two full years later with no end in sight, that same type of truck is parked outside North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale.

"North Memorial Health has brought in a refrigerator truck to help extend our hospital morgue capacity, as our current reality calls for this assistance," North Memorial spokesperson Jennifer Rengo said in a statement provided to Racket. "We encourage Minnesotans to take preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 including the new Omicron variant. This includes reducing social gatherings, wearing a mask in all public places, and vaccination including a booster dose."

Leaders of nine state hospitals recently took out a full-page ad in the Star Tribune: "We're heartbroken. We're overwhelmed," their message began.

About 98% of Minnesota's adult ICU beds are currently occupied—the highest rate of the pandemic, the Star Tribune reported earlier this month. At the time, 72% of 307 hospitalized Covid patients at M Health Fairview were unvaccinated, doctors told the Strib. There are currently 1,485 hospitalized Covid patients in Minnesota, according to today's Department of Health briefing. So far 10,156 Minnesotans have died from Covid, including 45 reported Monday. Nationally, that figure just crept over 800,000.

Early in the pandemic the state spent $5.48 million on a refrigerated warehouse in St. Paul that could have stored over 5,000 bodies. It was never used as a morgue and, as of this fall, the St. Paul Port Authority board planned to buy the former Bix produce facility for $5.65 million and flip it to "a buyer who will bring jobs to the city," the PiPress reports.

Elsewhere in our grim present: Union nurses held a press conference Monday to illustrate how dire the situation is inside Twin Cities hospitals. Here's a snippet:

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Racket

New Campaign Tactic? Phillips Wants Biden To Try Weed

Plus the Dayton's food hall now a pipedream, Metro Transit cracks down on free rides, and the first local climbing gym union in Minnesota in today's Flyover.

This Week’s Music Playlists Bring You Hot Dads, Seasonal Sads, and New Chanel Kicks

5 great new local tracks, 5 great new tracks from elsewhere.

November 29, 2023

Why Are Weed Drink Serving Sizes So Confusing?

As Minnesota's THC beverage market finds its footing, breweries and brands are still figuring out what consumers want.

November 29, 2023

Don Samuels on Rep. Omar: ‘You’re Not Cute Enough. You Don’t Dress Well Enough. Nothing About You Is Attractive Enough.’

Plus a new profile of the Pillow Man, public $ to allegedly crooked contractors, and bakeoff litigiousness in today's Flyover news roundup.

November 28, 2023