U.S. Orders 100,000 Body Bags

Donald Trump alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley on March 1, 2020.
Donald Trump alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley on March 1, 2020.
Photo: Alex Brandon (AP)

Bracing for catastrophe as coronavirus infections in the U.S. continue to soar, the Defense Department has ordered 100,000 “military-style body bags for potential civilian use” in the coming weeks, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.


After weeks of Donald Trump downplaying the outbreak as nothing serious and dawdling on mobilizing the full resources available to the U.S. government, and a fumbled early response from institutions ranging from federal agencies to local health systems, covid-19 has spread to all 50 states, DC, and four U.S. territories. According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine tracker, there are over 209,000 confirmed cases across the U.S. with over 4,750 deaths. (This number is now becoming inaccurate on a near-hourly basis.) The U.S. became the nation with the highest number of confirmed cases in the world last week, while the death toll has surpassed the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and is expected to climb to many times that number.

According to Bloomberg, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has requested the 100,000 body bags through the Defense Department. Initially, some of those will come from a Pentagon stockpile of 50,000 nylon bags originally intended for use in combat zones. FEMA hasn’t given the Defense Logistics Agency, which manages stockpiles and supply chains for the U.S. military and some federal agencies, a specific time when it wants the body bags yet, but Bloomberg reported FEMA wants them as soon as possible and the Pentagon is finalizing production contracts.

A FEMA spokesperson told Bloomberg that its “prudent planning” includes “mortuary contingencies.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Major General Jeff Taliaferro told the news agency that FEMA has also requested that the military provide a “mortuary affairs support team for New York.”

The line from the White House in recent days has become that the U.S. could see around 200,000 deaths, and that such an outcome would actually be the result of Trump handling the situation very well.

“You’re talking about 2.2 million deaths,” Trump said at a press conference this week, referring to some worst-case estimates. “So if we can hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000, it’s a horrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000, so we have between 100 [thousand] and 200,000, we altogether have done a very good job.”


As recently as last week, Trump pushed a terrifying plan to lower federal social distancing guidelines that have been instrumental in preventing the outbreak from exploding even faster on a county-by-county basis before later backtracking for now. The Wednesday edition of Trump’s daily news briefings, which have been filled with misinformation and bizarre political theater, focused on a U.S. plan to deploy ships off the coast of Venezuela rather than the 200,000 deaths that may occur in the coming months.

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post


“It’s going to be just fine ... And, we’re, we have it totally under control ... It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

-POTUS / 2020-01-22

“China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well.”

-POTUS / 2020-01-24

“Johnson & Johnson to create coronavirus vaccine”

-POTUS / 2020-01-28

“We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!”

-POTUS / 2020-01-29

“We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. And those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for it. So that I can assure you.”

-POTUS / 2020-01-30

“[Question: How concerned are you about the Coronavirus?] We pretty much shut it down.”

-POTUS / 2020-01-31

“Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China. … We can’t have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem, the coronavirus. So we’re gonna see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-02

“Nothing is easy, but [Chinese President Xi Jinping] ... will be successful, as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-07

“I think the virus is going to be — it’s going to be fine.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-10

“We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-14

“I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-19

“I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-19

“We have [coronavirus] very much under control in this country. ... We had 12 [people with the disease], at one point. And now they’ve gotten very much better. Many of them are fully recovered.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-23

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

-POTUS / 2020-02-24

“You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are ... getting better. They’re all getting better. ... As far as what we’re doing with the new virus, I think that we’re doing a great job.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-25

“CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-25

“Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low. … When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-26

“No, because we’re ready for it. It is what it is. We’re ready for it. We’re really prepared. ... We hope it doesn’t spread. There’s a chance that it won’t spread too, and there’s a chance that it will, and then it’s a question of at what level.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-26

“Only a very small number in U.S., & China numbers look to be going down. All countries working well together!”

-POTUS / 2020-02-27

“I think it’s really going well. We did something very fortunate: we closed up to certain areas of the world very, very early — far earlier than we were supposed to. I took a lot of heat for doing it. It turned out to be the right move, and we only have 15 people and they are getting better, and hopefully they’re all better. There’s one who is quite sick, but maybe he’s gonna be fine. … We’re prepared for the worst, but we think we’re going to be very fortunate.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-28

“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. ... And this is their new hoax ...”

-POTUS / 2020-02-28

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-28

“So a number that nobody heard of that I heard of recently and I was shocked to hear it, 35,000 people on average die each year from the flu. Did anyone know that? 35,000. That’s a lot of people. It could go to 100,000, it could be 27,000, they say usually a minimum of 27, it goes up to 100,000 people a year who die, and so far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States. Nobody. And it doesn’t mean we won’t, and we are totally prepared, it doesn’t mean we won’t. But think of it. You hear 35 and 40,000 people, and we’ve lost nobody, and you wonder, the press is in hysteria mode.”

-POTUS / 2020-02-28

“We’re the number-one travel destination anywhere in the world, yet we have far fewer cases of the disease than even countries with much less travel or a much smaller population”

-POTUS / 2020-02-29

“Some people will have this at a very light level and won’t even go to a doctor or hospital, and they’ll get better. There are many people like that.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-04

“With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-05

“We did an interview on Fox last night, a town hall. I think it was very good. And I said, ‘Calm. You have to be calm. It’ll go away.’”

-POTUS / 2020-03-06

“I’d rather have the people [on the cruise ship] stay, but I’d go with them. I told them to make the final decision. I would rather because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-06

“It came out of China, and we heard about it. And made a good move: We closed it down; we stopped it. Otherwise — the head of CDC said last night that you would have thousands of more problems if we didn’t shut it down very early. That was a very early shutdown, which is something we got right.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-07

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, ‘The risk is low to the average American.’”

-POTUS / 2020-03-09

“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

-POTUS / 2020-03-09

“And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-10

“As you know, it’s about 600 cases, it’s about 26 deaths, within our country. And had we not acted quickly, that number would have been substantially more.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-10

“[B]e calm. It’s really working out. And a lot of good things are going to happen. The consumer is ready, and the consumer is so powerful in our country with what we’ve done with tax cuts and regulation cuts and all of those things. The consumer has never been in a better position than they are right now. So a lot of good things are going to happen.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-10

“I think we’re going to get through it very well.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“My administration has taken the most aggressive action in modern history to prevent the spread of this illness in the United States. We are ready. We are ready. Totally ready.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared, or more resilient, than the United States.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“The risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world. We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-11

“It’s going to go away. ... The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point … when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-12

“[Food and Drug Administration] will bring, additionally, 1.4 million tests on board next week and 5 million within a month. I doubt we’ll need anywhere near that.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-13

“This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-15

“If you’re talking about the virus, no, that’s not under control for any place in the world.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-16

“I’ve always known this is a, this is a real, this is a pandemic … I’ve felt that it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-17

“We’re going to win. And I think we’re going to win faster than people think — I hope.”

-POTUS / 2020-03-17