Mobile morgues purchased by W.Va. DHHR arrive in Charleston

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:39 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Funeral homes and morgues have been nearing capacity because of COVID-19 related deaths.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources purchased four mobile morgues in order to accommodate the capacity issues in the state.

One funeral home is trying to find a balance between keeping up with demand and helping families get through their toughest moments.

“Everybody is having to deal with it and more so in these last two months than ever,” said L.J. Fairless, owner of Snodgrass Funeral Home in South Charleston.

Fairless said in the last two months the coronavirus pandemic has stretched his business to its limit, with more COVID-19 related deaths than ever before.

“Those have been three or four or five a week, and that is a substantial amount,” Fairless said.

He said the increase has made it difficult to balance accommodating the needs of families who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, while trying to keep up with the demand for space.

“Consequently, it’s been extremely busy. At times it’s been tough for everyone involved,” Fairless said.

That need for additional space has prompted the West Virginia DHHR to buy four mobile morgues from a company called Mopec. They will be used across the state when a funeral home runs out of space.

“I think it is a necessity. I think it is a great thing because many funeral homes do not have refrigeration like us,” Fairless said.

The DHHR said all four units arrived Monday in Charleston.

Fairless said while they have been busy, he knows the pandemic has been far worse on other parts of the country.

“When you are looking at a national news story and you see these numbers and you see these funeral homes that have all these extra refrigeration units and they are having to turn people away and schedule services way down the road,” Fairless said. “That is not something that is happening here.”

Fairless hopes to keep helping families but never needing that additional space to meet their needs.

WSAZ asked the DHHR about how great the demand is for these mobile units or if there is a place they will be deployed. We have not yet received a response.

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