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Phoenix Mayor: Maricopa County Medical Examiner at 96% capacity, adding refrigerated trucks

Phoenix Mayor: Abrazo nearly out of morgue space, may be requesting refrigerated trucks
Posted at 11:24 AM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 22:06:38-04

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego says one Abrazo location is nearing capacity in its morgue and may be requesting refrigerated trucks. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's office is also reportedly near capacity.

ABC15 spoke with Mayor Gallego Friday morning when she said the Abrazo location, which was not identified, is "near capacity" in their morgue space and they are looking at options to prevent problems.

“It’s specific just to one area…this is not a statewide problem,” Mayor Gallego said. "Maricopa County... is looking at everything they can do..."

FULL COVERAGE: Coronavirus cases surge across Arizona

"We are losing too many Arizonans," Mayor Gallego said. She continued to urge Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to require mask usage throughout the state.

Mayor Gallego's office released an additional statement Friday, detailing information from the city's meetings with the "Maricopa County Unified Command Center."

The command center team shared that the Maricopa Office of the Medical Examiner is at 96% capacity and is working to "secure a contract for refrigerator trucks."

Read the latest statement from Mayor Gallego's office below:

“The City of Phoenix participates in meetings with the Maricopa County Unified Command Center. It was reported this week that morgue space is nearing capacity in some cases here in Arizona. An Abrazo liaison reported their morgue is at capacity.

The command center has also reported that the Maricopa Office of the Medical Examiner is at 97% capacity and is working with the Maricopa Department of Emergency Management to secure a contract for refrigerator trucks. For further information contact Abrazo Health or the Maricopa Department of Emergency Management directly.”

"I'm heartbroken...it's been a rough week for me," Mayor Gallego said to ABC15, citing that the White House officials have said everything is under control and that she has been asking for too much support amid the fight against coronavirus.

When Mayor Gallego spoke with ABC15 Friday morning, she shared that an unknown Abrazo location is "near capacity," but officials from Abrazo's hospitals later released a statement, saying they have "adequate morgue space."

Subsequently, in the latest statement from Mayor Gallego's office, it is stated that "an Abrazo liaison reported their morgue is at capacity."

Abrazo officials confirmed that they have ordered refrigerated storage space as part of their emergency plans, but say it is not yet needed.

Read the full statement from the Abrazo hospital network below:

"Abrazo hospitals currently have adequate morgue space. The state has requested that hospitals implement their emergency plans. Part of activating our plan includes the ability to handle overflow morgue capacity if needed. Abrazo has taken a proactive approach by ordering refrigerated storage in the event it may be needed during a surge of COVID patients. At this point it is not needed. We do agree with the Mayor’s points around promoting awareness around masking, continuing to practice social distancing and seeking medical care in the event of an emergency need."

Additionally, Mayor Gallego mentioned that Phoenix is hoping to receive federal testing support by July 16.