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AP Exclusive: Chicago morgue copes with surge in deaths

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An orange biohazard tag hangs from a body bag in an isolated refrigerated unit set aside for bodies infected with coronavirus at the Cook County morgue in Chicago, May 5, 2020. – AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast

Chicago staffers – reporter Michael Tarm, photographer Charles Rex Arbogast, video journalist Noreen Nasir and reporter Don Babwin – used rare, exclusive access to one of the nation’s busiest morgues, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, to document the facility as it coped with the surge of COVID-19 deaths while still handling its usual number of homicides. The AP team expected to find employees overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of bodies that more than tripled their workload. Instead they found a well-organized, efficient operation and employees who, while putting in seven-day weeks in some cases, spoke of their determination to provide dignity to the dead.

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