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SC coroners say they're running out of morgue space due to COVID-19

Midlands coroners say a spike in COVID-19 related deaths has them running out of space to store bodies.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Midlands coroners say they're running out of space to hold bodies as they see a spike in COVID-19 related deaths. 

Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker says he's seeing at least three COVID related deaths a day, and the coroners office is running out of storage space.

"Its kind of like a redo of last year," said Baker. "We've had to borrow a mobile cooler from our hospital," he said.

"We're actually dealing with a lot of home deaths that we're testing and the majority have been positive."

Baker says the majority of the dead are unvaccinated and continues "Ninety-five percent of all the COVID deaths we've had in the last two months have unfortunately been from people who are not vaccinated."

RELATED: Coroners having trouble finding space for bodies as coronavirus ravages SC

Newberry County Coroner Laura Kneece says she too is seeing an uptick. "I would say probably in Newberry two or three cases per week that have been COVID related," said Kneece.

"For several months we weren't getting any COVID related deaths," she added.

She says the COVID-related deaths she has seen have been a mix of unvaccinated and vaccinated people. She says its really been 50/50.

She says her team is made up of only a few employees and she is the only full-time employee. Her biggest fear, she says, is keeping up with the workload if case numbers continue to surge.

"We're definitely going to need manpower resources," she added.

According to DHEC there were a total of 158 deaths from Thursday to Saturday due to the coronavirus. 

Sabrina Gast, President of the South Carolina Coroners Association says coroners across the state are requesting resources.

RELATED: Report: COVID vaccines for kids 5-11 could be approved by end of October

"The hospital morgue facilities are not large enough to handle the number of deaths they're having, so they're needing additional space," said Gast.

"We had several requests last week for assistance for mortuary trailers ... so refrigerated storage to hold decedents."

A message from Baker who sees tragedy daily, "Please go out there and get vaccinated, if not for your own sake, for your children or your grandchildren."

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