(The Center Square) – A bill in the Minnesota Senate seeks to sell the state’s COVID-19 morgue currently being used for storage.
Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, sponsored SF 1836.
Kiffmeyer said that the state bought the morgue when Gov. Tim Walz projected up to 29,000 Minnesotans dying of COVID-19 within the first year of the pandemic. Over 6,700 Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, 63% of whom resided in long-term care facilities.
“But the exaggeration of the deaths has brought great fear, and also this unnecessary expense,” Kiffmeyer said.
Walz’s administration purchased the building for $6.9 million, state officials said. To date, it’s never housed a corpse.
The money would be transferred from the general fund to the federal coronavirus relief fund to reimburse to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) upon sale of the property.
“What’s the point of keeping this building any longer? Kiffmeyer said in a committee hearing.
Walz’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the bill.
Wayne Waslaski, director of Real Estate and Construction Services, said the morgue is currently being used for COVID-19 related storage, including personal protective equipment and testing supplies.
If the building were sold before items are disposed of, the state would have to find another location with 60,000 square feet, Waslaski said.
Waslaski said the full purchase price will be returned to the state. FEMA so far has sent 75% of the cost, with the rest coming soon, which would be refunded to Minnesota’s general fund.
Minnesota’s fiscal health has recovered greatly due to the December stimulus package former President Donald J. Trump signed into law, which helped flip a projected state deficit to a $1.6 billion surplus.
Minnesota is set to pocket up to an additional $5 billion from the federal stimulus package sent to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, Minnpost reported.