More than a dozen portable morgues coming to Central Florida after hospital units reach capacity

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Fourteen federally funded portable morgue cooler units are heading to Central Florida hospitals in the next few days.

The units have a capacity of 12 bodies each.

On Thursday, an email from AdventHealth to emergency managers warned that its morgues have reached capacity due to an influx of COVID-19 patients, and that rented coolers it’s been using at 10 of its campuses are quickly filling up too.

READ: AdventHealth morgues reach capacity due to COVID-19 deaths

Now, the Central Florida Disaster Medical Coalition is being called in to help.

“The hospitals are the ones who chose what we purchased. They looked at all of the different options available, and they chose the ones that work best for them,” said Lynne Drawdy, executive director for the coalition, which is shifting as much money around as they can to support the morgue shortage.

The coolers are expected by Monday and will go directly to the hospitals, which will move them as needed, Drawdy said.

Coronavirus: Florida woman hospitalized with COVID-19 returns home to find husband dead

Hospitals across Central Florida affiliated with Orlando Health, Health First, The Cleveland Clinic, Halifax and HCA will receive at least one portable morgue. But AdventHealth will be getting the most.

The coalition typically responds to hurricanes and also assisted with the Pulse mass shooting.

Drawdy said this crisis could’ve been prevented.

READ: Flagler County deputy passes away from COVID-19 complications in the line of duty, sheriff says

“This is our unvaccinated population who’s dying, and they’re younger,” she said. “This is not like last year when it was the elderly. These are younger people that are dying.”

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.