Main entrance to the Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. (Wikipedia)

The Providence Alaska Medical Center Emergency Response Team has requested at least one refrigerated trailer for the purpose of storing bodies as the hospital grows increasingly concerned about a potential surge of patients and healthcare staffing issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Anchorage Press has learned.

Refrigerated trailers are used during times of crisis when hospitals run low or are out of space and local funeral homes don’t have extra capacity to store bodies. Hospitals need to be able to quickly turn over their beds so that they can be used for new patients. Refrigerated trailers are the solution to hospitals' logistical dilemma and are currently being used in other cities such as San Antonio and El Paso, Texas.

In a statement supplied to the Anchorage Press, Providence told us the following:

“Providence Alaska Medical Center has acquired a refrigerated trailer to be used as a temporary morgue, if necessary. The addition of this trailer is part of our emergency response to the pandemic and in response to the recent rise in cases, hospitalizations and deaths statewide. The trailer was acquired via a local vendor.”

Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy issued a statewide emergency alert on November 11 and said in a pre-taped YouTube video that "hospitalizations and sick healthcare workers are reaching untenable levels.” The state has seen an increasing number of deaths and hospitalizations in the state over the past two weeks.

Currently, Alaska has over 14,000 active cases of people infected with COVID-19 and more than half of those cases are located within the municipality of Anchorage itself.

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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