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Liberty Coroner painting grim picture
Reggie Pierce
Liberty County coroner Reginald L. Pierce. - photo by File photo

While the LCSS is keeping kids in school, Liberty County Coroner Reginald Pierce presented a grim view of the rising cases of COVID deaths during the Commissioners’ mid-month meeting held Aug. 19.

Pierce made a request to the Board of Commissioners to consider building a proper stand-alone County morgue facility.

Pierce said they are starting to see an uptick in COVID deaths from people who are dying from the virus at home. He said some cases were due to folks not going to the hospital and others being turned away from the hospital because the hospitals were at maximum capacity and had no beds available. 

“We’ve had about 10 calls so far over the last two weeks,” he said. 

Pierce said the County has also experienced an increase in unattended deaths, which occurs when a body is not claimed by family members or when the person deceased is homeless or transient. Pierce said the increase in these cases means they’ve had to hold the body in a cooler for a longer period of time and means they currently have their coolers full.

“And this is becoming more of a frequent thing,” he said. “So, we are now having to outsource this to different areas for storage.”

He requested that the Commissioners consider granting his office more authority on processing the disposition papers of unclaimed deceased which would allow their office to cremate the person quicker and free up space. 

He said Fort Stewart has informed him that his office would be called to handle all the death cases on post in conjunction with Fort Stewart authorities.

Pierce’s main request is that the Commissioners start to consider building a professional County Morgue accessible to law enforcement officers.

“Having a dedicated facility will allow us to do the things we need to do,” Pierce said. “We have outgrown our space. I’m not saying build this building tomorrow but it has become evident that we re going to have to try and build a building in Liberty County.”

Pierce said not all the deaths were due to COVID and mentioned an outbreak of Fentanyl overdoses lately. Pierce also noted that continued growth in the County will also mean an increase in deaths.

He said the morgue at the hospital has been great but the facility is in need of renovations and repairs. He added they’ve also outgrown the use of that facility.

He said surrounding counties are having the same issues with storage.

“I see the trend and you want to get ahead of the trend,” he said.

Also, at the meeting the Commissioners passed a new firearms discharge ordinance after County Attorney Kelly Davis said they made last minute revisions after consulting with local law enforcement. The Commissioners also requested last minute modifications reducing the lot from 5 acres to 2 acres and discharging within 1,000 feet of dwellings. The new ordinance states a reliable well-constructed back-stop must be in place.

Commissioners passed County EMS Services agreement, the EMS agreements for school events, and the EMS Medical Director agreement. They approved the purchase of a Grapple Truck from Freightliner at a cost of $171,816.00

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