National Guard troops replace prison inmates at overflowing Texas morgue as Covid deaths soar

Graeme Massie
·1 min read
Texas National Guard troops were deployed to El Paso to help deal with morgues overflowing with Covid victims (Getty Images)
Texas National Guard troops were deployed to El Paso to help deal with morgues overflowing with Covid victims (Getty Images)

Texas National Guard troops were deployed to El Paso to help deal with morgues overflowing with Covid victims.

A team of 36 soldiers was sent to the border city “to provide mortuary affairs support” and replace inmates being paid $2 an hour to handle bodies.

Authorities say the team was mobilised after a major spike in cases and deaths in the state.

“As we've seen a rapid increase in cases and hospitalisations, we are unfortunately also seeing a spike in deaths,” said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo in a statement.

“We have been working closely with funeral homes and mortuaries to assist with increased capacity and coordination of resources.

“The Texas Military will provide us with the critical personnel to carry out our fatality management plan and we are very grateful to them for their ongoing support.”

The mayor said that officials had set-up a central morgue at an undisclosed location to add additional capacity.

The National Guard will replace prison inmates who were used in El Paso to help relieve overworked personnel.

The sheriff’s office began using inmate volunteers on 9 November and gave them tests and personal protective equipment.

Officials described the move as a “temporary focus" to help until the National Guard team arrived.

Funeral homes in El Paso County have prepared refrigerated units to house bodies and officials have requested for extra mobile morgues to take the number in the county to 10.

El Paso reported 1,074 new Covid cases on Saturday and eight deaths bringing their total to 853 deaths.

The US has now passed 12 million total coronavirus cases with more than 255,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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