The Marshall County coroner tells us that his office saw more than 25% more deaths in 2020 compared to 2019.
It's not just due to coronavirus. In 2020, the Marshall County coroner's office responded to on average 5 more cases a month. Some of those causes of death are unclear right now, but one of the most surprising comes from a spike in homicides.
"Last year, we had 2 homicides. This year, we had 11," said Coroner Cody Nugent.
That's a more than 5 times increase in homicides for Marshall County from 2019 to 2020. For the coroner's office, that means more investigations and more space taken in their refrigeration system.
"Often times, we need to hold that individual to make sure we know what occurred at that scene," said Nugent.
They've installed a new around $20,000 refrigeration system for bodies. They can now hold 14 instead of just 2. The system was installed in December with the help of CARES Act funding.
The coroner's office teamed up with the Marshall County Commission to make it happen. In 2020, the Marshall County coroner's office had to use mobile morgues to keep up with the demand.
While Coroner Cody Nugent explains using the mobile morgues again isn't out of the question, he says this system will make a big difference.
In 2019, they responded to around 165 deaths and in 2020, they responded to around 220. Some of those could be coronavirus-related, but Nugent says it'll take time to be sure.
"A lot of time, what we're seeing is people that are home and they don't have positive tests and they didn't go to the doctor, they refused to go to the doctor."
That's not testing that the coroner's office can do on scene. They have to wait on results from the Alabama Department of Public Health to be sure.