The 12,000 figure would far exceed most death projections for Illinois from COVID-19. The latest model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects 3,629 people will die in Illinois from the disease by August 4.
Even as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration is scrambling to find enough medical supplies to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic, it also is stockpiling body bags in preparation for a worst-case scenario.
In the past week, the state’s procurement team has issued three different solicitations to potential vendors to purchase body bags, also known as cadaver bags — seeking more than 12,000 in total.
That figure would far exceed most death projections for Illinois from COVID-19.
The latest model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects 3,629 people will die in Illinois from the disease by August 4. The state’s death toll stood at 307 on Monday.
The institute, a global health research center, is projecting the range of deaths in Illinois could fall anywhere between 2,335 and 6,267. The researchers are projecting Illinois will experience a peak of 202 daily deaths on April 12.
So far, Pritzker has not shared the data the state is using to make its own projections for possible fatalities from the deadly virus.
On April 1, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency asked for bids on an initial purchase of 6,025 body bags, then followed up April 5 by asking for 5,000 additional bags. The following day, it increased that total by another 1,060.
So far, the state has completed an order for just 6,300 body bags, according to the governor’s office.
In response to Sun-Times inquiries, the governor’s media team issued a written statement:
“As we would in any large scale emergency/disaster, the State evaluates any needs (personnel, equipment, supplies) that local jurisdictions may have to execute their response.
“All disasters start and end locally. If a local jurisdiction has extended its capability to respond to a disaster, the state’s role is to supply resources and/or assets to meet the needs of their communities.
“Unfortunately, responding to fatalities is one of the many critical functions that the State is working collaboratively with local jurisdictions to ensure all parties in the State of Illinois are poised to respond quickly as the pandemic continues.”
A spokesperson for the governor said the body bags will be distributed as requested by local municipalities, public health officials and hospitals.
The governor’s office said the supply is intended to cover the entire state and to be available for people who may die from causes unrelated to the coronavirus.
This is another example of states being on their own to locate needed supplies during the coronavirus emergency, often placing them in competition with each other and bidding up the prices.