As the number of New Yorkers with coronavirus continues to increase, contingency have been in place since 2008 to prepare for a pandemic that would see Rikers Island prisoners dig mass graves to bury up to 51,000 corpses.
New York City has Bloomberg-implemented plans in place for a pandemic with a mortality rate of 2.1 per cent that would create the need for the mass burial of dead bodies.
The plan was drawn up by New York City’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner in 2008 during the administration of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The report ‘Pandemic Influenza Surge Plan For Managing In- and Out-of-Hospital Deaths’ by Charles S. Hirsch details response strategies in case of a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu and the 1957 outbreak of Asian Flu.
DailyMail report: The report’s estimates hold that most deaths from a pandemic – up to 70 per cent – would occur in hospitals or assisted living centers.
During a pandemic similar to the Spanish Flu, when more than half a million Americans died, the city plans to deploy death professionals like morticians, forensic photographers, and medical students to collect the bodies.
It is estimated that they would be asked to remove between 50 and 5,000 cadavers a day, according to New York magazine.
During a surge in deaths, the city would deploy mobile refrigerated storage units at locations around the city.
Each of these units are capable of holding up to 44 bodies each.
The city would then need to accelerate the disposing of the bodies, including through cremation.
If the number of corpses reaches overflow, a last resort would have the city send the bodies to Hart Island, the small island in the western Long Island Sound which lies just off the Bronx shoreline.
The city would then have inmates from nearby Rikers Island dig mass graves and bury the corpses.
The use of prison labor is a controversial topic, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo learned on Monday.
During a news conference in Albany, the governor introduced a new hand sanitizer that he said would be sold to New Yorkers at a cheap price if the major manufacturers engaged in price gouging during the pandemic.
But the product was made by Corcraft, a state-owned business that uses prison labor.
‘We are introducing New York State Clean hand sanitizer made conveniently by the State of New York,’ Cuomo said.
‘This is a superior product to products now on the market.’
Cuomo, the third-term Democrat, said that it cost the state less money to manufacture the product than it would to buy it from other vendors on the open market.
But advocates for criminal justice reform objected to the use of cheap prison labor during a national health crisis.
‘I’m concerned that we are asking the incarcerated to save the public from a health crisis, but won’t give them the dignity of a fair wage,’ State Senator Zellnor Myrie, a first-term Democrat from Brooklyn, told The New York Times.
In New York States, inmates are paid an hourly wage of 62 cents. In some cases, they get as little as 10 cents an hour, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.
Myrie wants to raise the minimum wage in state prisons to $3 an hour, but a bill has stalled.
As of midday Monday, there have been more than 140 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in New York.
Nearly 100 of those cases trace back to one of a community in the Westchester County suburb of New Rochelle connected to one of the first patients who tested positive in the state.
Other commuter-rail suburbs in Connecticut and New Jersey have also reported stray cases.
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