ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Minnesota is preparing to use its COVID-19 morgue to store bodies for the first time of the pandemic as the virus surges statewide.
The state has yet to use the St. Paul building in that capacity, but a record-breaking number of deaths this holiday weekend has officials bracing for the worst.
The Department of Public Safety confirms they were there today testing the cold storage and installing things like shelving to possibly start storing remains.
The $5.5 million state-owned facility has been used to store boxes of PPE and testing supplies.
The space is being prepped to potentially serve its intended purpose, which the Department of Public Safety said will be, “Short-term storage of remains that are in caskets and are prepared for burial.”
The building was originally purchased in May when up to 30 people were dying of COVID-19 per day and restrictions on gatherings lead many families to delay funerals. With another pause on public gatherings in effect now, the state could be preparing for something similar as death rates increase.
Health officials say the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings won’t be known for two or three weeks, meaning Minnesota could be hit hardest just in time for Christmas.
In September, state officials said the facility could also be used for vaccine storage eventually.
PPE stacked in boxes in a temporary morgue purchased by the state of Wisconsin.