The year of 2020 may become the deadliest year in the history of the United States with the number of deaths in the year expected to exceed 3.2 million, according to preliminary estimates released by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Commenting on the figures, Robert Anderson, chief of Mortality Statistics Branch of the CDC, said life expectancy in the country could drop as much as three full years.

According to a news report by The Guardian, Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire, reportedly said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deaths in 2020 is expected to exceed those of new-borns in more than 50% of a total of over 3 100 US counties.

Amid the severe epidemic, the medical resources of major hospitals in the US are already in a critical state with the intensive care units (ICUs) across the country running at full capacity.

According to a report by CNN last Friday, data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health suggests there are about 6 500 people in the county hospitalised with COVID-19, of which 20% are in the ICUs. In the past week alone, more than 1 600 patients were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19.

“A person now dies every 10 minutes in LA County from COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health said in a statement.

Since the ICUs are full, many hospitals in California have to use other places to treat COVID-19 patients and more patients keep flooding in. Hospital and medical staff there have long been overwhelmed.

Even if medical staff work at full capacity, death is still inevitable in the face of high numbers of confirmed cases and ICUs running short.

US hospitals buckle under surge of new coronavirus cases:

According to a report from the New York Times, to cope with the sudden surge in mortality, a large warehouse in South Brooklyn has been converted into a long-term freezer storage facility that can hold up to 1n500 bodies. At present, the warehouse has stored more than 530 bodies, “most of which have been there frozen for months.”

Facing the increasing number of deaths related to COVID-19, other states in the US have also used and purchased refrigerated trailers to accommodate more bodies. In early November, Texas purchased ten additional refrigerated trailers, and California recently added about 60 refrigerated trailers as temporary morgues.

More and more refrigerated trucks have been purchased across the US.