The Department of Defense (DOD) is working to obtain 100,000 body bags for FEMA in anticipation of increasing COVID-19 deaths—coming two days after Trump administration officials warned that the U.S. pandemic death toll could surpass 100,000.
“The Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency have a longstanding arrangement with FEMA to procure key commodities from DLA’s industrial partners during crisis response operations,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews wrote in an emailed statement to numerous news outlets, in reference to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The DOD is now “responding to FEMA’s prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies,” he wrote.
Mortuary pouches are zippered bags that are typically used by the military to contain the remains of soldiers killed during battle.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top administration official in the fight against the pandemic, said that more than 100,000 people in the United States could die of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19. He and other administration officials noted that as many as 240,000 could die but didn’t offer a timetable.
“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” Fauci said during a news conference. “This is not a number we need to accept. We can influence this to a varying degree.”
President Donald Trump also warned of a “painful” two-week period ahead. “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said during a briefing this week.
“We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks. This is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks,” he added.
According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University researchers, more than 1,000 people in the U.S. died in a 24-hour period ending on Wednesday night, bringing the country’s death toll to above 5,000.
FEMA, in a statement to several news outlets, said on Tuesday that the agency is “is aware of many states’ planning efforts to account for mortuary contingencies and has increased its posture to support these requests once received from the states.”
“Prudent planning for these future conditions is taken very seriously by FEMA, and we are working with Regional and State health and emergency managers to ramp up available assets to meet contingency needs for the most affected areas,” the disaster management agency added.
Fauci, meanwhile, said that despite the increase in CCP virus-related deaths, people “cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working.”
The virus first emerged in mainland China last year in the central city of Wuhan before the CCP’s reported mismanagement and cover-up of the epidemic led to its spread across the country before it turned into a global pandemic. In January, public health experts in other countries and in the U.S. raised the alarm about the virus.
“Nobody knew how contagious this was. I don’t think any doctor knew it at the time. People have not seen anything like this,” Trump said in a news conference.