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Refrigerator trucks standing by in San Antonio to deal with surge in coronavirus deaths, officials confirm

"In the hospital, there are only so many places to put bodies," said one local hospital official. "We're out of space."

SAN ANTONIO — Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City health officials confirmed that refrigerator trucks are standing by in San Antonio to deal with the surge in coronavirus deaths.

Officials reported 11 new deaths in Bexar County on Monday, continuing a disturbing trend. 85 deaths, or 44% of the total deaths in the county, have been reported in the last two weeks.

"We're always in a mode of preparing for contingencies, so we do have refrigerator trucks on standby in the area should they be needed," Nirenberg confirmed at the briefing on Monday night.

Coronavirus Update - July 13

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Judge Nelson Wolff give today's update on the coronavirus response in Bexar County.

Posted by KENS 5 & Kens5.com on Monday, July 13, 2020

Dr. Ken Davis, Chief Medical Officer at Christus Santa Rosa Health Center, said that if needed, the trucks would be used to hold bodies until the morgue or the funeral home can come and pick them up..

"It's a hard thing to talk about when people's loved ones are dying, but in the hospital, there are only so many places to put bodies," Davis said. "We're out of space, our funeral homes are out of space, and we need those beds, so when someone dies, we need to quickly turn that bed over."

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"We've got two slots in one of our bigger hospitals for people that have passed," he said. "We need more than two, we had 14 die in the hospitals this weekend, plus other non-COVID patients of course are dying."

"There's nowhere to put them," Davis said. "It sounds terrible, but it's true."

The mayor said that hospitals are under severe stress, with only 10% of beds available. He also said that nearly 25% of coronavirus tests in the county in the past week came back positive.

As Bexar County passed 20,000 total cases, Nirenberg said that the recent spike was evidence that we had opened up too soon, and floated rolling back reopening to slow the spread.

"If these numbers continue in the same direction as they have been over the last couple of weeks, we're gonna be forced in a situation that nobody wants to see, which is to shut down activities," he said. "We can stop that if we work together."

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