The state of Minnesota plans to spend $6.9 million to acquire a warehouse facility for the “temporary storage of human remains.”
The funds will come from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund and was recommended for approval by Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans.
Frans has the authority to transfer and disperse funding requests that are below $1 million, but any request higher than $1 million must be approved by the Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission.
“The requisite number of commission members having provided a positive recommendation, I hereby authorize $6,900,000 from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund to the Department of Administration to purchase a facility that can accommodate a surge in demand for the timely, dignified, and temporary storage of human remains,” the budget request states.
Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly discussed the topic during a Friday press briefing.
“I know this is a sensitive topic. It’s an uncomfortable topic for a lot of people, but we need to have a capability, we need to have a plan for a large number of deaths. What’s contemplated by the purchase is to buy a building where we can properly handle with dignity and respect and safety the bodies of Minnesotans who may fall victim to the coronavirus,” said Kelly.
Kelly pointed to other countries and cities around the world that were not able to “handle a surge of fatalities” and had to “bury people in shallow graves.”
“We just do not think that is acceptable,” he said. “The movement through the system that we normally use to take care of our deceased and properly lay them to rest, the movement through that system has slowed dramatically.”
Since funerals and burials have slowed down because of social distancing requirements, the “storage” capacity in funeral homes and hospitals is filling up, he explained.
“Director Kelly, I appreciate the way you handled that with dignity. This is a really tough one for all of us to talk about,” Gov. Tim Walz said during the press conference.
As of Saturday, Minnesota had 558 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, the Minnesota Department of Health reported.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Minnesota Capitol” by Gabriel Vanslette. CC BY 3.0.