Glynn County installs mobile morgue to brace for surge in COVID-19 deaths

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — A spike in COVID-19 cases is also leading to a spike in deaths, and it’s forcing Glynn County to install a mobile morgue to prepare for this surge and give families time to prepare funeral arrangements.

Since the pandemic started, the Southeast Georgia Health System hospital in Brunswick has seen 205 people die from COVID, but those deaths seem to be accelerating, according to Southeast Georgia Health System President and CEO Michael Scherneck.

16 people have died in just the past two weeks, accounting for about 7.8% of total deaths.

There are 19,087 total COVID-related deaths across Georgia as of Wednesday, August 18.

Exactly a year ago, there were 4,748 total COVID-related deaths in the state.

That’s a 75% increase in deaths.

You can view more COVID-19 data for the state of Georgia here.

“The situation here is becoming pretty dire,” Scherneck said.

So dire, in fact, that now a mobile unit is here to supplement Glynn County’s morgue.

“It wasn’t until just now that we decided that we needed to have something like that,” Scherneck said.

The morgue inside the hospital can accommodate six people, while the mobile morgue unit can accommodate 10 extra people. The hospital requested it on Friday, and it arrived for the first time on Saturday. It’s been used at least once since then.

“We want to make sure we can accommodate these individuals,” Scherneck explained.

The hospital wants to have this space ready so families have time to prepare funeral arrangements for their lost loved ones.

“They’re just not anticipating that it’s gonna get so bad so quickly,” Scherneck explained.

“These are people of all different ages in their 40′s and 50′s.”

The Glynn-Brunswick 911 Center found out yesterday that Dispatcher Number 908 Lisa Miller had died of COVID. She was 53.

It is with a heavy heart we were notified at the loss of one our own, Lisa Miller. Lisa was kind, compassionate, fun...

Posted by Glynn-Brunswick 911 Center on Tuesday, August 17, 2021

“It all happened so fast,” said Cara Richardson, the dispatch center’s director.

The number 908 is now permanently retired.

“We’re all devastated and still expect to see her walk through the door,” Richardson said.

Richardson trained Miller when she started in 2015.

“[She was] a calm, compassionate dispatcher and really, really genuinely cared,” Richardson pointed out.

Glynn County didn’t confirm her vaccination status, but her friends say she seemed healthy.

“She would get them engaged in exercise, she lived at her gym she referred to herself as a gym rat,” Richardson pointed out.

All these unexpected deaths are giving many a moment of pause.

“It was eye-opening for me,” Scherneck said. “And I hope it’s maybe eye-opening for other people.”