San Francisco area grapples with ‘explosion’ of deaths, COVID protocols cause backlog of dead bodies

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If you thought things couldn’t get any worse in increasingly dystopian, crime-ridden California, you might want to think again.

In a scenario, perhaps reminiscent of a macabre Boris Karloff horror movie from way back in the day, or maybe more contemporary apocalyptic content, “an explosion of people dying” in the San Francisco Bay area has reportedly led to delayed postmortems in a county coroner’s office, in part because of a COVID-19 testing protocol.

“A growing backlog of bodies awaiting autopsies has reached a critical point in Alameda County, making it more difficult to close cases amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 deaths, a regional overdose crisis and surging homicides in Oakland,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In one recent morning alone, 100-or-more bodies were in refrigerated containers at the loading dock outside the medical examiner’s office, 21 of which were set to undergo autopsies by the close of business, the Chronicle asserted.

“At the peak last year, the refrigeration trailers held up to 120 bodies at a time, as investigators grappled with possible suicides, accidents and overdoses while tracking down family members,” according to a sergeant with the Coroner’s Bureau. “Two years into the pandemic, the pace has not relented.”

A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office similarly characterized the trend as never being this bad.

In a review of public records, “the Alameda County coroner reported 4,031 deaths in 2019, 5,233 in 2020 and 5,622 last year. That uptick, coupled with staff shortages and COVID protocols requiring pathologists to test bodies for coronavirus infections, has slowed the timeline for autopsies: Procedures that used to take an average of two to five days now take two to three weeks,” the news outlet detailed.

An Oakland police lieutenant claims that the grim and tragic inventory “has not inhibited homicide investigations,” according to the Chronicle. In Oakland, 165 murders occurred in the calendar year 2021.

Other area counties have reportedly not experienced the same body backlog conditions, however. “Coroners typically handle a fraction of total deaths, and many of the cases they’re involved in do not require autopsies,” the San Francisco publication indicated.

“Autopsy results may also be delayed by backlogs at laboratories, and some cases require additional testing. When people can’t be identified through dental records, pathologists probe for DNA samples. Still, unresolved cases leave friends and family members wondering what happened,” Fox News explained.

“For families, the longer waits mean more agony,” the Chronicle noted.

Separately, whether it’s a reaction to violent crime, high taxes and low services, authoritarian restrictions imposed upon law-abiding citizens, or rampant homelessness and open-air drug use, or other issues that have contributed to the decay in the quality of life in the Democrat-controlled jurisdiction, thousands of residents and businesses have departed the once Golden State.

Many have relocated to Texas, Florida, Tennessee, or other generally Republican-dominant areas.

Parenthetically, in June 2021, Alameda County’s Health Care Office of Emergency Services announced that its coronavirus death toll has been cut by 25%  because officials found that some fatalities were not a “direct result” of the virus.


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