North Memorial Health Hospital brings in refrigerated truck to extend morgue capacity

North Memorial Health Hospital has brought in a refrigeration truck to augment the health care facility’s morgue capacity as Minnesota continues to report dozens of COVID-19 deaths per day.

In a statement, North Memorial said its "current reality calls for this assistance" as hospitals around the state remain swamped with COVID-19 patients.

The Robbinsdale hospital’s move to store the dead in refrigerated trucks follows the steps health systems in New York City took during spring 2020, when the novel coronavirus ravaged America’s largest metropolitan area. But that was before information on how to mitigate the spread of the virus was widely available and well before the COVID-19 vaccine had been developed.

"… Our health systems have been operating at capacity for many weeks," North Memorial said. "We encourage Minnesotans to take preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 including the new Omicron variant. This includes reducing social gatherings, wearing a mask in all public places and vaccination including a booster dose."

According to data from the Minnesota Department of Health, 79% of the state’s hospital have zero adult intensive care unit beds available, and 41% have zero non-ICU beds available. Across Minnesota, there are just 24 unfilled adult ICU beds, and only three of those are in the Twin Cities metro.

Since the start of December, the MDH has reported 446 deaths from COVID-19.

And according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all 87 counties in Minnesota were at high risk of community transmission of COVID-19.