Pentagon seeks 100,000 body bags as Covid-19 fatalities top 5,000 in US after deadliest day to date

April 2, 2020

The Pentagon is looking to hand out 100,000 body bags as hospitals and morgues are overrun with coronavirus fatalities, with the US breaking its daily death toll record yet again, surpassing 5,000 in total.

The Defense Department will first distribute military-style “Human Remains Pouches” from a stockpile of 50,000 units to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and will later seek to purchase more, Pentagon officials told several media outlets on Wednesday.

The request from FEMA comes as the US sees its Covid-19 outbreak accelerate across all 50 states, counting nearly 1,000 new deaths on Wednesday and breaking a nationwide death toll record set just 24 hours prior. The US also confirmed 25,000 new cases of the illness on the same day, bringing the national total to over 215,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The Defense Logistics Agency’s Troop Support unit, which manages the stockpile of body bags typically used for soldiers killed overseas, has contacted a manufacturer to determine whether it can meet the massive demand, but has not yet placed an order, Bloomberg reported.

FEMA and the Pentagon have already coordinated efforts in New York – which has been hit harder than any other state in the outbreak with nearly 84,000 cases and over 2,200 deaths – setting up refrigerated morgue trucks to cope with the influx of fatalities, while the military has dispatched a mortuary services team to New York City.

The US Navy has also deployed medical vessels to NYC and Los Angeles, where they will treat non-coronavirus patients in an attempt to take pressure off both cities’ crowded hospitals.

According to models prepared by the White House Covid-19 task force, up to 240,000 Americans could die in the epidemic, with a low end of 100,000 if appropriate containment measures are put in place. To date, more than 215,000 infections have been reported in the US, with over 5,100 deaths, after crossing the grim 3,000 fatality milestone just two days ago.

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