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Los Robles Regional Medical Center--one of the closest hospitals to western Malibu--has received a morgue trailer to help accommodate rapidly increasing death rates in the area, according to the Thousand Oaks Acorn, which on Thursday, Jan. 7, published a photo of the large white refrigerator raised on wheels. According to the Acorn, the trailer has been in place at least since Tuesday, Jan. 5. That hospital, “which is seeing a record number of COVID patients, says the trailer is a state-recommended precautionary measure in the event the small in-house morgue runs out of room, which has not happened yet,” The Acorn reported. 

Only a day before, on Monday, Jan. 4, “public health officials announced that 26 [Ventura County] residents—ages 48 to 92—had died from or with COVID in the previous 14 days, more than during any two-week period since the pandemic began.” 

“Per the recommendation of the California Office of Emergency Services, we, along with other hospitals in county … have taken the proactive measure of having a refrigerator truck at Los Robles Hospital,” Daphne Yousem, the Los Robles communications director, said in a statement. “We are in continuous contact with our local mortuaries and funeral homes to ensure the proper transfer of patients in a timely manner. Please keep in mind that … our morgue is very small, with a capacity of only six.”

The LA Times reported on Thursday, Jan. 7, that the National Guard had been called to LA County and other parts of the state to help with the bodies piling up in morgues and mortuaries from the skyrocketing COVID-19 death toll. “As of last week, guard troops were stationed at 13 medical facilities in the state, including Adventist Health White Memorial in Los Angeles, Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia and Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Sun Valley,” the LA Times wrote. Those troops were to assist with transporting the bodies to temporary storage at places such as the county coroner’s office. 

The LA Times also reported that Supervisor Janice Hahn had requested the deployment of US Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy, but that the Navy had said the Mercy was under mandatory maintenance and not available.

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