ST. LOUIS — St. Louis County is paying extra to store bodies at funeral homes and in a trailer outside the County Medical Examiner’s Office. Some county officials are trying to get money to fix this issue.
County Executive Sam Page called on the County Council to let them use $300,000 of federal pandemic money as a solution.
They want this money to look into the practicality of replacing the health center and the medical examiner’s building. This storage problem has been an issue for years.
The Medical Examiner’s Office just doesn’t have enough space for bodies, and it’s been leading to overflow in areas as a solution, like a portable 18-foot refrigerated trailer outside the George E. Gantner Building.
There are of course many possibilities for this rising need for more space for bodies, but some are concerned that the rising number of drug-related deaths is one reason.
The St. Louis Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge said they’re concerned about increases they’re seeing in overdose deaths in the area, especially fentanyl-related.
“It could get worse," Michael Davis said. "With the number of death cases we’re working and we’re receiving and hearing about from our state-level partners, it would not surprise me if the numbers for this year, 2022, increase. But the 2021 cases were over 1000.”
According to the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri St. Louis, the St. Louis Metro Region accounts for 48% of all drug overdose deaths in Missouri in 2021. That is slightly down from the rate of 54% in the past year, but some say remembering this was the first pandemic year is an important factor to keep in mind.
Overall, Davis said it's important to remember the dangers of fentanyl are more subtle than you think.
"It only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to kill you," Davis said. "Two milligrams is a deadly dose. Four out of ten pills can contain a possible deadly dose, so a lot of people don't know what they're taking."