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

The warehouse is currently storing PPE and testing supplies.
Publish date:
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

covid, vaccine

Minnesotans eligible for COVID shots only need to pre-register once for vaccine lottery

This is good news for people worried that they'd need to sign up every week.

police lights

2 people charged in separate Minneapolis homicides that happened hours apart

A woman is accused of stabbing a man in the chest over $60, while a man is accused of accidentally shooting a victim on the man's birthday.

House for sale

Despite pandemic, Twin Cities housing market set records in 2020

Sales were up 7.7% in 2020 compared to the year before.

Target store inside

Target unveils 'limited-edition' home, lifestyle collection with Levi Strauss

The new collection will be available in some stores and everyone online Feb. 28.

Tim Walz

Walz's $52.4 billion budget increases school spending, raises taxes on wealthy

He says the budget will help level the playing field and ensure all Minnesotans have a fair shot at economic recovery,

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 12.55.00 PM

Pictures from Minnesota GOP's Deadwood retreat show no masks, no distancing

The pictures were shared in Chair Jennifer Carnahan's latest email newsletter.

Alexus Norberg

Search for girl, 14, missing from St. Cloud

The teen left her home without her parents' permission.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 26

The health departments provided new data daily at 11 a.m.


What health officials know, don't know about Brazil P.1 variant

Minnesota health officials confirmed the first case of the P.1 variant in the U.S.

christopher and banks

Christopher & Banks closing stores for good, laying off 361 people at Plymouth facility

The layoffs began earlier this month and will continue through March.

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 8.56.43 AM

Tributes, donations after death of popular South High School teacher

The fundraiser had raised more than $9,000 of its $15,000 as of Tuesday.


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.

PPE, coronavirus, covid-19

Here is the June 4 COVID-19 report for Minnesota

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

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.