Skip to main content

Minnesota buying $6.9M warehouse to store bodies during coronavirus pandemic

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

The State of Minnesota is finalizing an agreement to purchase an unidentified warehouse that will serve as "storage for human remains" during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The $6.9 million purchase serves as a grim reality that Minnesota is facing during the pandemic, though the facility will provide a proper place to store bodies of more than just COVID-19 victims. 

In a media call Friday, state officials say the reality is that because of social distancing, families who lose loved ones for a myriad of reasons haven't been able to hold proper memorials and funerals. That, coupled with increasing deaths from COVID-19, has led to funeral homes running out of room for bodies. 

"Because there's been a slowdown in the number of funerals and burials, for lack of a more delicate term, the storage in funeral homes and hospitals is, in some places, full and overflowing," explained Joe Kelly, director of Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management.  

"We want to provide a facility where we can properly, safely and with the appropriate dignity and respect that we think we owe our fellow Minnesotans and their families, to temporarily store them until their families are ready to lay them to final rest." 

It's been 49 days since the first death confirmed by COVID-19 was reported Mar. 21 in Minnesota. Since then, a total of 534 people – through 4 p.m. Thursday – have died from the disease. 

Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday that he expects the state to reach 1,000 COVID-19 deaths by May 27. 

"I know this is a sensitive topic, it's an uncomfortable topic for a lot of people. We need to have a capability, we need to have a plan for a large number of deaths," Kelly added. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

"If you consider some of the images that we've seen around the world and around the country, in places like Italy and New York, where they 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." 

The $6.9 million purchase comes from a $200 million COVID-19 Minnesota Fund passed by legislators. The approximately $65 million remaining in the fund needs to be allocated by May 11, when the temporary budget is set to expire.

However, Walz is urging legislators to extend the deadline to utilize the funds.

Next Up


Charges: Driver had been drinking at party before striking teens, killing one

The victims were walking home from Walmart at the time of the crash, according to court documents.

Screen Shot 2023-01-30 at 4.32.08 PM

State: Beltrami County Jail conditions present imminent risk of 'life-threatening harm'

The state is taking action to force changes at the Beltrami County Jail.


Tributes to 15-year-old girl killed in Burnsville crash

The teenager was a student at Burnsville High School.

police lights

Charges: New Ulm couple abused young children with cruel punishments

Warning: The following contains upsetting details about child abuse.

Screen Shot 2023-01-30 at 1.18.29 PM

Boy reels in 9.5lb walleye, wins pickup truck at Brainerd ice fishing tourney

Contestants come from all over the country compete in the annual event held in Brainerd.


Arrowhead 135 ultramarathon in northern MN kicks off in -25F temperatures

The race is considered one of the 50 most challenging races in the world.


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.

SARS-CoV-2, novel coronavirus

94 deaths from coronavirus in Minnesota after 7 more reported

The cases included all that were confirmed through 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 15.

Tim Walz modeling

Here's why Minnesota extended the Stay at Home order

The Minnesota model is estimating at least 6,000 deaths over a 12-month period.

coronavirus, nurse

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, July 1

The figures represent all data reported through 4 p.m. the day before.

coronavirus, nurse

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, August 7

The death toll from the virus in Minnesota is now 1,640.

coronavirus, nurse

Coronavirus: 9 more dead as positive tests, ICU patients increase

Stearns County jumped to 728 total cases, the third most in the state.

coronavirus, nurse

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, October 13

483 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in Minnesota.