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San Diego County’s healthcare system reached a stark milestone over the weekend as dwindling hospital morgue capacity forced the county medical examiner to begin storing the deceased.

A medical examiner transport vehicle removed five bodies from Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa over the weekend, officials confirmed in an email, after the facility’s morgue filled past capacity.

Dr. Steven Campman, San Diego County’s interim medical examiner, said in an email Monday that four hospitals have notified his office recently that their morgues were near capacity. The situation has unfolded as San Diego County experiences its most significant surge in COVID-19 deaths to date.

“They were ultimately able to handle the situation after contacting local funeral homes,” Campman said. Sunday “was the first day a hospital exceeded its capability, so the facility management plan has been put into use, and the county is storing some of the decedents from that hospital.”

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