GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- Josephine County Emergency Management has filed a request for a mobile refrigeration morgue in case deaths in the county call for additional holding space. The single trailer, requested from Yamhill County as a mutual aid partner, is set to arrive before Friday, September 3 at no cost to Josephine County.
Yamhill County is making the resource regionally deployable for other counties, like Josephine County, that do not have large morgue facilities in case of mass fatal incidents.
Manager for Josephine County Emergency Management, Emily Ring has been responsible for making the arrangements for the arrival of the 14 person mobile morgue. When Ring spoke to Newswatch 12 Tuesday, August 31, she said the county is hoping the morgue will only be used lightly, if at all.
"We may not be able to utilize the top shelf so it might be a slightly smaller capacity. The hope is that we do not need to use it at all."
She says Josephine County has a limited staff and limited hoisting equipment needed to reach the top spaces of the mobile morgue.
Ring also clarified, the mobile morgue could be used for various causes of death, not just deaths due to Covid related illness.
As Ring straightens out the logistics, she says the county is also still working on determining the location of where the mobile morgue will be until decedents are transported to their final resting place. She does say it will be located somewhere in Josephine County.
Josephine County officials have made it clear to Newswatch 12 that the mobile morgue will not be in a public space and will be safe and secured.
Newswatch 12 learned from Hull & Hull Funeral Directors in Grants Pass that it does have a facility to manage a mobile refrigeration morgue if that was necessary.
Though county officials hope it will not be needed, Ring says this is a vital resource to have available as Josephine County Public Health continues to monitor the death toll of Covid-19.
Josephine County alone reported eight more deaths on Tuesday, raising the county death toll to 131 since the beginning of the pandemic. All of them had underlying conditions, and none had been vaccinated against COVID-19. The youngest was a 35-year-old woman who died at her home on August 19, according to Josephine County Public Health.