Sputnik reported on Friday that New York officials had announced that the city was bracing for exponential growth in the death toll and had prepared tents and refrigerated trucks to transport the bodies of those who had died from the novel coronavirus.
Over the weekend, videos began popping up on social media, showing the very public scene of the bodies being transported from overwhelmed hospitals to the back of the large truck.
“Please stay inside. This is for real. This is no joke, y’all. This is for real,” John Lee, the man recording the video with his cellphone, is overheard saying. “The time is 10:40, Sunday morning.”
"They're putting the bodies in an 18-wheeler, y'all," he said. This particular scene occurred outside of Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City’s Downtown Brooklyn.
Lee’s live footage has been shared well over 208,000 times on Facebook and viewed more than 3.5 million times since it was posted on March 29.
A portion of his video was also uploaded to Twitter by user @NYScanner. To no one’s surprise, the video has gone viral and received over 5 million views as of this article’s publication.
A second video recorded by a man who appears to be a hospital employee gives a more up-close look at the waiting process before workers load bodies onto a truck outside of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.
"There's bodies up there, piling up." the man says after opening the refrigerated truck.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, a Maimonides Medical Center spokeswoman expressed that she "regrets that anyone was able to obtain video of this nature."
"We're working very hard to provide accurate accounts of all the good work being done to care for COVID patients, and the stories of many people who have recovered and gone home," the spokeswoman said.
Without speaking on Lee’s video, Brooklyn Hospital Center issued a statement obtained by the outlet which said the facility is “following protocols established by public health officials” and using the refrigerated trucks as “an ancillary morgue.”
“This is needed to accommodate the tragic spike in deaths, placing a strain on the entire system of care — from hospitals to funeral homes,” the hospital said. “Grieving families cannot quickly make arrangements, and their loved ones who have passed are remaining in hospitals longer, thus the need for this accommodation. We ask our community to be respectful during this time as we remain — more than ever — committed to Keeping Brooklyn Healthy.”
According to NYC Health results posted at 9:30 a.m. on March 31, a total of 932 COVID-19-related deaths have occurred in New York City. The breakdown details that a total 748 of those who died had underlying conditions, and at least 14 had no underlying conditions. Data on the remaining 170 individuals is still pending.