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Bodies Doubled Up Again At Cook County Morgue

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Cook County Medical Examiner's Office

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cook County Morgue is once again double-stacking bodies on trays in its cooler.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, at least 30 trays are being stacked on the cooler at the county Medical Examiner’s Office, 2121 W. Harrison St.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

“We should’ve had a burial in September but we didn’t,” said county Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy Jones.

There are several reasons why no burial happened, Jones said.

One reason is that the plain wood coffins for unclaimed bodies, which the Medical Examiner’s office calls burial shells, may be on back order.

Dr. Jones did not dispute the number WBBM Newsradio got from sources, that 30 trays in the cooler have two bodies on them.

“We’re a little full right now,” she said.

“You only put two very thin bodies – in opposite directions” on a tray, Jones said.

WBBM Newsradio reported on double-stacking in the morgue in January.

At that point, Jones blamed an upswing in deaths at the end of the previous, year, and a backlog that was created because the holidays fell on Saturdays and funeral directors were not coming in.

Also, then as now, coffins were on back order, Jones said at the time.

Earlier this week, the Medical Examiner’s office announced a new policy of donating some unclaimed bodies to the Anatomic Gift Association for use in medical science.

But as to whether that new policy would alleviate some of the overcrowding, Jones’ answer was, “very little.”

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