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NYC burial system stretched beyond limits

Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 17:59:42-04

QUEENS — For Queens funeral director Omar Rodriguez, the last few weeks have been “extremely stressful.”

“We’re trying to accommodate these hospitals that keep calling us, trying to get bodies out of their morgues because they are running out of space,” he explained.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York City Chief Medical Examiner is now reducing the number of days a body will be held in the city morgue before it is sent to Hart Island for a temporary burial.

Before coronavirus, families were given two weeks to claim a loved one's body.

“If a decedent has not been claimed within six days, the decedent will be transferred for temporary interment at City Cemetery," the city said in a statement.

Meanwhile private funeral homes like Lisa Dozier’s remain stretched beyond their limit.

"We are at capacity, and I've had to turn several clients away," Dozier said.