Cook County opens refrigerated warehouse as makeshift morgue

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — With the number of deadly COVID-19 cases on the rise, preparations are underway in Cook County for a worst case scenario.

For days now, Cook County has been preparing a 66,000-square-foot facility at an undisclosed location on the city’s Southwest Side.

The so-called surge center will begin taking in bodies, local victims of the pandemic, on Thursday.

The makeshift morgue will have capacity for more than 2,000 bodies.

In most cases, those who die of coronavirus will now go directly to the surge center from about 20 refrigerated trailers to be placed outside hospitals and the county morgue.

Cook County has been the epicenter of the pandemic in Illinois, accounting for the majority of deaths so far.

The medical examiner wants to ensure that all victims of the pandemic are treated with dignity and respect, despite bypassing the county morgue and in most cases, autopsies as well.

Emergency management is working with the medical examiner to track capacity at hospital morgues, especially in the southern portion of Cook County.

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