14:46 GMT29 May 2020
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    The Pentagon is looking to obtain as many as 100,000 military-style body bags to potentially be used to hold civilian bodies, as the US death toll from the COVID-19 coronavirus is expected to rise in the next few weeks.

    According to a report by Bloomberg, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has asked for 100,000 body bags, also known as human remains pouches, from the Defense Logistics Agency’s Troop Support unit, which manages the Pentagon’s stockpile of body bags.

    Two people familiar with the matter confirmed that the Pentagon is seeking to purchase more bags. Although the Defense Logistics Agency’s Troop Support unit has been in contact with a current contractor to determine its “manufacturing capabilities,” a formal order has not yet been placed, Bloomberg reported. FEMA wants the pouches as soon as possible, according to an anonymous official. The green, nylon, 94-inch-by-38-inch body bags are usually used in war zones.

    A FEMA spokesperson also said that the agency is exercising “prudent planning” to meet future needs amid the outbreak and is preparing for “mortuary contingencies” from US states, Bloomberg reported. Hospitals in especially hard-hit areas like New York and New Jersey have been storing dead bodies in refrigerated trucks.

    White House projections issued Tuesday during a Coronavirus Task Force briefing revealed that as many as 240,000 Americans are expected to die due to the coronavirus outbreak, even if strict lockdown measures are kept in place for another month.

    "I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We're going to go through a very tough two weeks," US President Donald Trump said at the White House on Tuesday. “Our strength will be tested, our endurance will be tried.” 

    "As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," Dr. Anthony Fauci, a medical expert on Trump's Coronavirus Task Force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters. "We're going to do everything we can to get it significantly below that."

    The latest data by Worldometer shows that the virus has infected more than 235,000 people and killed more than 5,600 in the US alone. According to a report by BBC, 32 US states have instituted some kind of lockdown in an effort to fight the coronavirus.

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    death toll, coronavirus, COVID-19, Pentagon
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