* Claudia Lauer and Jessica Gresko at the AP…
There are the new dead. And then there are the bodies waiting in overcrowded mortuaries to be buried as cities struggle to meet demand and families wrestle with rules on social distancing that make the usual funeral rituals impossible.
Med Alliance Group, a medical distributor in Illinois, is besieged by calls and emails from cities around the country. Each asks the same thing: Send more refrigerated trailers so that we can handle a situation we never could have imagined.
“They’re coming from all over: From hospitals, health systems, coroner’s offices, VA facilities, county and state health departments, state emergency departments and funeral homes,” said Christie Penzol, a spokeswoman for Med Alliance. “It’s heart-wrenching.”
The company has rented all its trailers and there’s an 18-week wait for new materials to build more, she said.
Illinois and Chicago have reportedly built on a plan created by the Daley administration during and following the tragic 1995 heatwave.
Across the United States, even as coronavirus deaths are being recorded in terrifying numbers — many hundreds each day — the true death toll is likely much higher.
More than 9,100 people with the coronavirus have been reported to have died in this country as of this weekend, but hospital officials, doctors, public health experts and medical examiners say that official counts have failed to capture the true number of Americans dying in this pandemic, as a result of inconsistent protocols, limited resources and a patchwork of decision-making from one state or county to the next.
In many rural areas, coroners say they don’t have the tests they need to detect the disease. Doctors now believe that some deaths in February and early March, before the coronavirus reached epidemic levels in the United States, were likely misidentified as influenza or only described as pneumonia.
With no uniform system for reporting coronavirus-related deaths in the United States, and a continued shortage of tests, some states and counties have improvised, obfuscated and, at times, backtracked in counting the dead.
* A Ventilator Stockpile, With One Hitch: Thousands Do Not Work
* Facing backlog of 115K COVID-19 tests, Quest Diagnostics now furloughing workers: Moynihan said the 40% drop in overall testing by the company was due to a decrease in physician office visits, elective surgeries and employment testing he attributed to “social distancing and shelter-in-place measures that were instituted to combat the spread of COVID-19.” He said the demand for COVID-19 tests would not be enough to offset the decline.
* Surgeon general warns US of ‘saddest week’ and ‘9/11 moment’
* Despite ‘Crimson Contagion’ pandemic drills, Chicago didn’t fill public health jobs: The gaps in the city’s preparedness included: • Six vacancies out of 40 emergency preparedness positions in the city’s Department of Public Health, including one for a high-level director of medical preparedness. • The lack of a fully functional telemedicine system that allows for the diagnosis of illnesses remotely and safely finding places to treat those who are ill. Telemedicine remains a “work in progress,” one city official acknowledged.
* Trump administration waited 2 months before bolstering medical supplies for coronavirus pandemic, review shows: A review of federal purchasing contracts by The Associated Press shows federal agencies waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment needed by front-line health care workers. By that time, hospitals in several states were treating thousands of infected patients without adequate equipment and were pleading for shipments from the Strategic National Stockpile. That federal cache of supplies was created more than 20 years ago to help bridge gaps in the medical and pharmaceutical supply chains during a national emergency. Now, three months into the crisis, that stockpile is nearly drained just as the numbers of patients needing critical care is surging. Some state and local officials report receiving broken ventilators and decade-old dry-rotted masks.
* Should you tell your landlord if you have coronavirus? As Chicago tenants get requests to disclose, experts say such attempts are misguided
* 2nd Stateville prison inmate dies of COVID-19: Rice began a 60-year sentence at Stateville in 1982 after being convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy in Calumet City. While serving that sentence, Rice got 80 more years when he pleaded guilty in 2010 to molesting and killing another 11-year-old boy in Oak Forest nearly three decades earlier.
* As Illinois surpasses 10,000 coronavirus cases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago health commissioner urge residents to wear face masks outside their homes
* Coronavirus face masks: How to make your own, who should wear one and who is donating them
* Police: Will County man kills woman in apparent murder-suicide, concerned he had COVID-19
* Dick Durbin ‘99.9%’ sure grandchild had COVID-19, calls McConnell’s Trump defense ‘pathetic’
* Biden says Democratic National Convention could be held virtually
* ‘Ground to a halt.’ State closures put clean energy on ice: A solar industry boom in Illinois, for instance, is at risk of going bust while legislative lifelines remain suspended in the state’s Legislature. Funding for a state-run solar incentive program is tapped out for certain categories of projects, and the rest may soon be exhausted.
* Flick Fact: Because of coronavirus, how many more phone calls are we making now?
* Local newspapers are facing their own coronavirus crisis
* Virus hot spots in South poised for disproportionate suffering