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The Department of Defense plans to provide 100,000 body bags at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the coronavirus death toll is expected to rise, the DOD confirmed Wednesday.
“DOD and the Defense Logistics Agency have a longstanding arrangement with FEMA to procure key commodities from DLA’s industrial partners during crisis response operations,” a DOD spokesperson said in a statement. “DLA is currently responding to FEMA’s prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies.”
The DLA – an agency within the DOD — manages the “global supply chain” for the U.S. military, according to its website. The DOD will pull from its stockpile of 50,000 bags and plans to purchase more, according to Bloomberg.
The White House warned that even with social distancing measures, 100,000 to 240,000 could die from the disease.
“The surge is coming, and it’s coming pretty strong,” President Trump said in a White House press briefing Tuesday. “It is absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines. It’s a matter of life and death.”
The Defense Logistics Agency, which manages the stockpile normally sent to war zones, will give them to states that request them, Bloomberg reported.
In New York, one of the hardest-hit areas, hospitals have been overwhelmed and have been forced to make makeshift mortuaries in refrigerated trucks.
More than 4,600 people have died of the virus in the U.S. and more than 200,000 have been sickened as of Wednesday night.
“This is going to be a painful two weeks,” Trump said. “Our strength will be tested, our endurance will be tried.”