Skip to main content

Body storage warehouse in St. Paul 'ready if needed for COVID-19 fatality management'

The warehouse is currently storing PPE and testing supplies.
Body storage warehouse

A view from inside the warehouse (photo taken in September). 

It's been more than seven months since Minnesota purchased a $5.5 million warehouse designed to serve as a temporary morgue in anticipation of a significant death toll from COVID-19 that could push capacity limits at funeral homes. 

Now, after the state health department reported 1,140 COVID-19 deaths in November, that warehouse, which can store up to 5,100 bodies, is nearly ready to serve its primary function if needed. 

"The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is taking necessary steps to ensure the 1415 L’Orient building is ready if needed for COVID-19 fatality management in Minnesota," a spokesperson from the SEOC told Bring Me The News. 

"The SEOC began testing the cold storage components of the facility today (Monday, Nov. 30). Staff also began installing equipment, including shelving, that would permit the short term storage of remains that are in caskets and are prepared for burial. This facility will not store unprepared remains."

The SEOC spokesperson noted that the warehouse is "designed to serve as a backstop" for funeral homes, mortuaries and morgues, which have "not exceeded either their baseline or surge capacities at this time." 

Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday estimated that funeral homes, mortuaries, morgues and medical examiners are presently at "60% or more" capacity." 

"It's not that there is an imminent use of using this, it's just making sure that it's functional, it's ready to go," said Walz, who noted that an unidentified hospital recently requested to use the warehouse as a morgue without first checking to see if local funeral homes had capacity, which they did. 

According to a request form from the Department of Administration, a survey of the state's funeral homes, medical examiner offices and hospitals in May found that the metro area has the capacity to store 1,262 bodies. The statewide capacity, based on that May report, is 2,006 bodies.

The warehouse is currently being used to store personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies, and may also be used as vaccine storage once shipments are made to Minnesota. That could happen within weeks, according to Gov. Walz. 

Boxes of PPE wrapped and stacked on pallets inside the warehouse. 

Boxes of PPE wrapped and stacked on pallets inside the warehouse. 

The building was purchased at a time when the state was seeing around 30 deaths per day from COVID-19. But the most people with COVId-19 hospitalized in May was just over 600, whereas there are now 1,840 peopled admitted to Minnesota hospitals to help them fight the disease, including 394 patients in intensive care. 

Latest forecast from Novak Weather

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-05-16 at 5.03.30 PM

Brothers Bar & Grill closes in downtown Minneapolis

The Midwest chain closed its St. Cloud location in 2018.

Ken Jeong

Licensed physician Ken Jeong to do standup in MN this September

The licensed physician will take the stage at Treasure Island Resort and Casino on Sept. 30.

Osseo Police Department

Osseo PD says officer did not pursue suspect who caused fatal crash

The crash happened in Brooklyn Park early Sunday morning.

221 Main Street. E. Albert Lea

Suspect arrested after 3 family members stabbed in Albert Lea

The three victims are related, according to police.

wastewater

Evidence that omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 are in Minnesota

The European CDC has warned of a possible significant summer surge fueled by the omicron subvariants.

driving unsplash - crop

Hastings man charged for driving drunk with 2-year-old in vehicle

Matthew Quade's BAC was almost five times over the legal limit when police pulled him over last week.

police lights

Arrest made after person shot at Hopkins apartment building

Police say this was an isolated incident and that the victim and suspect knew each other.

covid

BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant quickly becoming dominant in MN

Experts say the subvariant is more transmissible but there is not evidence to suggest it causes more severe disease.

Erin Maye Quade

DFLer who was in labor during endorsement convention to run in primary

Maye Quade gave a speech while in active labor before she ultimately withdrew from the endorsing convention last month to give birth.

Related

body storage warehouse

Warehouse for body storage during COVID-19 pandemic is in St. Paul

The warehouse can serve as a temporary morgue for 5,100 bodies.

coronavirus, nurse

Minnesota buying $6.9M warehouse to store bodies during pandemic

The overflow is in part due to social distancing making proper funerals impossible.

coronavirus, coronavirus test, covid-19

Dec. 27 COVID-19 update: Test positivity rate continues to drop

Only four states are currently under a 5% test positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

covid-19, coronavirus, ppe

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, November 9

The test positivity rates continue to soar in Minnesota.

novel coronavirus, covid-19, sars-cov-2

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Thursday, August 6

The test positivity rate continues to rise even as testing levels increase.

PPE, coronavirus, covid-19

Here is the June 4 COVID-19 report for Minnesota

The death toll since March 21 has surpassed 1,100.