Maryland

Laurel Ice Rink Turned Into Temporary Morgue

"It's a sign of the times we are living in"

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An ice rink in Laurel, Maryland, is temporarily housing bodies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's just very sobering, is the way I would sum it up," said Del. Mary Lehman, who represents Prince George's County.

Lehman learned Monday morning that her community's ice rink is now a temporary morgue, as Maryland runs out of room for its deceased.

"It's a sign of the times we are living in and I do think the state is trying its very best, and this is the right thing to bring more dignity to this very unfortunate situation," Lehman said.

The Garden Ice House in West Laurel has five rinks, one Olympic-size and one NHL-size, according to its website. It's used for everything from college games to tournaments, ice skating lessons and birthday parties.

"That's the, I guess, irony of this situation. It's been used for a very, very different purpose," Lehman said.

The rink was already closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Now, mortuary vans are driving in and out as Maryland Park Police officers stand guard.

Some of the bodies held here have not been identified, others are awaiting out-of-state arrangements, according to sources familiar with the operation.

"The state anatomy board evidently does not have the space in Baltimore, and the people who are being brought here are COVID and non-COVID cases," Lehman said.

The Maryland Department of Health gave the following statement to News4:

“The Maryland Department of Health MDH can confirm the state has a Temporary Mortuary Affairs Center. The facility is operational and provides a high-level of dignity and respect for the deceased as they await transport to a funeral home or mortuary facility.”

"These are our friends. These are our neighbors. These are our coworkers and we will get through this time," Lehman said.

Sources said bodies are elevated from the ice, protected and draped in Maryland flags.

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