NEW YORK — In footage that may be shocking or disturbing to some, caskets have been stacked awaiting burial on New York’s Hart Island.
But why is a New York island used for burials?
It is managed by the Department of Corrections and is normally the final resting place for anyone whose remains have gone unclaimed in the city’s morgue for one to two months, or if a family cannot afford a funeral, CBS News reported.
Right now, the city is moving only unclaimed bodies to the island, anticipating the need for morgues due to the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.
The medical examiner has changed the rules for unclaimed bodies, saying that instead of the 30-to 60-day limit, if a body goes unclaimed for two weeks, it will be taken to Hart Island. But if morgue officials make contact with family members within 14 days of a death, then the body will remain in the custody of officials, despite the two-week deadline.
The burials usually are done by inmates from Rikers Island, but because of the pandemic, contractors are now doing the work.
Mayor Bill De Blasio said last week the city was going to consider burying pandemic victims on the island if morgues and temporary storage, like refrigerated trucks stationed at hospitals, fill up, CBS News reported.
The medical examiner’s office officials said they do not plan to reach morgue capacity, according to CBS News.