Refrigerated 'surge center' opened in Illinois to store thousands of bodies

CHICAGO -- To prepare for a surge in COVID-19 deaths, Cook County officials on Thursday, April 9 opened a refrigerated warehouse to store thousands of additional bodies.

The 66,000-square foot refrigerated “surge center” can hold more than 2,000 bodies, and is located about five miles from the county’s Near West Side morgue, according to a statement from the office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

So far, the county has seen more than 300 deaths from the coronavirus, making up more than 70% of COVID-19 deaths statewide.

“While my hope is that we have made plans that we will not have to utilize, I realize that my administration has a responsibility to prepare for a surge in deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Preckwinkle said in the statement. “We are working diligently to ensure that the victims of this virus are treated with dignity while under our care.”

Cook County officials opened the refrigerated warehouse to ease possible overcrowding at morgues during the COVID-19 pandemic.