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Marshall County Coroner's Office installs new mortuary cooler unit

Before the new unit was installed, the coroner's office only had space for two bodies.

MARSHALL COUNTY, Alabama — As COVID-19 surges, Marshall County is bracing for more deaths.

In mid-December, the Marshall County Coroner's Office installed a new mortuary cooler to be able to hold more bodies.

They got about $20,000 for this much needed upgrade. It was paid for by CARES Act funding and the Marshall County Commission.

Marshall County Coroner Cody Nugent said, "It greatly helps the county and allows us to better serve the citizens of the county."

RELATED: Tents set up at Marshall Medical Centers in case of an overflow of patients

The coroner's office serves the entire county, and before the new unit was installed, they only had space for two bodies. With the new unit, they can now hold up to 14 bodies at a time.

"Our two person cooler could often times be overwhelmed," said Nugent. "We would usually have it plus need additional storage space during non pandemic, and so during the pandemic, that's when we really saw a need."

Throughout the pandemic, they have had to put in temporary mobile morgues to keep up with the amount of bodies needing to be held.

RELATED: Marshall County Coroner's Office to reactivate mobile morgue units as number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths spike

"Funeral homes are struggling a lot of times trying to get families that aren't COVID positive to come in and make arrangements," said Nugent. "What ends up happening is someone passes away with COVID. Well, their family members also have it, and so sometimes that takes a course of a ten to fourteen day quarantine period before a family can even come in to make arrangements, so funeral homes have called on us quite a bit."

Even before the pandemic, the coroner's office has exceeded their refrigeration space several times. They say having this larger, permanent morgue will help them better respond to immediate needs.

WATCH: Mobile morgue unit reactivated in Marshall County