Mobile Morgue Trailers and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nearly two years after the first cases were diagnosed in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Despite widely available coronavirus vaccines, mask mandates, and shutdowns, COVID-19 patients still continue to overwhelm the health systems in many areas, especially places with largely unvaccinated populations. Intensive care unit (ICU) rooms are in short supply in some cities and medical centers are starting to once again limit elective procedures. Fresh on the heels of the Delta variant came Omicron, and as we have seen before, once the cases go up for COVID patients, the death toll will likely rise accordingly.

In the beginning of the COVID-19 case surge, local health officials in heavily populated places like New York City were forced to rely on refrigerated trucks to store bodies. With morgue capacity at its limit and funeral homes unable to take any more victims, secondary resources had to be utilized. Eventually, the virus made its way from cities to small towns and sparsely populated rural areas. And soon, health departments and local emergency management staff realized the value of purpose-built refrigerated trailers and portable morgues to handle the overflow of COVID related deaths. 


Lack of morgue space isn’t a situation limited to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, however. More recently, locations as varied as the Akron General branch of the Cleveland Clinic and St. Charles Hospital in Bend, Oregon have added refrigerated trailers in order to cope with deaths caused by the Delta variant surge. Hospitals and healthcare districts are quickly realizing that new variants will cause further surges and re-emergence of the virus, which will inevitably lead to more deaths, even as treatments evolve and improve. It’s important to gather resources while they’re readily available, especially when those resources involve taking care of the deceased and storing remains in a respectful way. 


The Best Refrigerated Trailer for Emergency Management Needs

Refrigerated trailers/mobile morgue trailers are available in a variety of sizes to fit any city or municipality. A rural location won’t have the same needs as a densely populated city, so it’s important to choose the trailer that best suits your specific situation. 

Penn Care’s refrigerated trailers are available in three sizes: 17 foot length, 31 foot length, and full size 53 foot length. The 17 and 31 foot long trailers can store up to 16 and 48 cadavers, respectively. The 53 foot trailer has the capacity to store up to 90 cadavers.  

All three versions of mobile morgue trailers arrive equipped with heavy duty commercial flooring and ramp systems for easy access. They are fully insulated and can maintain a temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit in 110 degree ambient temperatures. 

The fully lighted interiors are completely sealed for easy cleaning and sanitization, and can even be hose washed. Aluminum cadaver trays and cam straps are included for keeping the trays secured during movement. The 17 foot and 31 foot models can be towed by most SUVs and pickup trucks, making them easy to transport to a discrete area of a hospital or medical facility. Best of all, a 30 year lifespan means that these trailers will be able to serve your facility or community for the long haul. 

Preparing for Any Mass Fatality Scenario

Refrigerated trailers don’t just equip a city or hospital for a pandemic-induced surge in deaths, but for any mass fatality incident that could occur. Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean that severe weather, terrorism, mass shootings, or transportation accidents have stopped. All of these incidents are ever-present and could happen at any time. 

For example, you may live in an area that’s prone to tornadoes, like the ones that recently ravaged the state of Kentucky. Perhaps your city is near a major airport, or is home to large industrial installations. If your municipality is located in an area where a potential disaster may occur, then a refrigerated mobile morgue trailer is a great asset to have on hand to deal with a potential mass fatality incident. With a refrigerated trailer, you have more control over how your city or organization responds to any disaster, whether it’s natural, biological, or man-made. 

Future Pandemics

The past couple of years have shown the world how unprepared we all were, and what we can do better when the next variant develops or the next pandemic sweeps across the globe. Doctors, virologists, and epidemiologists agree that the next pandemic is merely a matter of if, not when. The next pandemic has the potential to be even worse than the present COVID-19 pandemic

If we take the lessons learned from the present pandemic and put plans into action now, we may be able to mitigate effects when the next virus emerges. It could be years or decades away, but we can’t waste all the knowledge we have gained so far.

Preparedness is achieved at all levels of society. It’s not just the job of the federal government, local and state governments, or individuals. It’s the job of all people and all societal systems to work together. 

Preparing for the Next Surge

Now is the time to get prepared for the next surge. The recent months have proven that just because COVID-19 vaccines are available doesn’t mean that the pandemic will end overnight. Having refrigerated mobile morgue trailers on hand means that your facility or municipality can be prepared for the inevitable outcome for some of those who fall ill. 

Contact Penn Care for more information on our refrigerated trailers, mobile morgue systems, and other disaster preparedness solutions.