Extra body bags, refrigeration trucks: Valley agencies are preparing for the rising COVID-19 death toll

Brittany Jacob Image
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
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Central Valley agencies are preparing for an influx of COVID-19 deaths as California activates the Mass Fatality Program.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The state has activated the Mass Fatality Program for the first time.

With 142 Californians killed by the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, Governor Gavin Newsom is ordering 5,000 additional body bags.

It's a grim reminder of the rising death toll from COVID-19.

RELATED: California has refrigerators, body bags on standby as vaccine finally arrives

At the Fresno County Coroner's Office, empty body bags are lined up and a refrigeration truck sits empty - for now.

"This is our line of work. We have to always have to keep our supplies up. We don't want people to be startled by the fact that we have extra supplies. They are going to get used in due time. At the same time we just have to be prepared, if this wave with COVID does come we have to be prepared to handle it," says Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Seeing how other parts of the country have been forced to deal with an influx of fatalities, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office has been preparing for the worst.

It received some donated refrigerated trucks earlier in the year that can fit up to 50 bodies.

"We will work with hospitals if they have other cases and are running out of room, then we have an accessory like this trailer available to them and we can work to seek their needs," says Botti.

As the Governor activates the Mass Fatality program, they will coordinate with county sheriff's offices.

"If the state calls in and they say they need us for some reason we will be there to help out," says Merced County Sheriff's Deputy Daryll Allen.