The Trump administration placed orders for more than 100,000 new body bags for coronavirus victims in April, according to documents and public records obtained by NBC News.
The largest order of body bags was placed via purchase order the day after Trump said that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus might not exceed 50,000 or 60,000 people.
“One is too many. I always say it: One is too many,” Trump said at an April 20 White House briefing. “But we’re going toward 50- or 60,000 people. That’s at the lower — as you know, the low number was supposed to be 100,000 people.”
The Department of Homeland Security is poised to spend $5.1 million on the largest batch order for “human remains pouches” from E.M. Oil Transport, Inc., according to an April 21 filing, NBC news reported.
The pouches have not yet been paid for or shipped to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to NBC News.
“I hope to God that they don’t need my order and that they cancel it,” the company’s marketing manager, Mike Pryor, told the news source.
According to the report, FEMA also opened up bidding for different companies to provide refrigerated trailers to serve as makeshift morgues to localities around the country. The request specifies a preference for “53-foot tall trailers”, the largest of their kind.
Other internal documents obtained by the media outlet showed that the White House coronavirus task force has serious concerns about what lies ahead for the U.S., with fears that the country might endure another spike in infections in the future.
Members of the task force were reportedly concerned over the lack of coronavirus tests, a vaccine or proven treatments for coronavirus and the possibility of a “catastrophic resurgence” of the disease.
The news outlet’s findings underscore what seems to be a disconnect between the president’s optimism about the state of the coronavirus impact and public health official’s concerns regarding the pandemic.
As of Thursday evening, 63,001 people have died of the coronavirus in the U.S and more than 1 million have tested positive for the disease, according to data compiled from Johns Hopkins University.