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El Paso more than doubling number of mobile morgues as virus surges

El Paso more than doubling number of mobile morgues as virus surges
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City officials in El Paso, Texas, have more than doubled the number of mobile morgues operating in the region as a surge in coronavirus infections threatens to overwhelm local hospitals.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that 10 mobile morgues are now operating in El Paso, up from four, as health officials deal with more than 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, more than some states. Meanwhile, 154 bodies reportedly remain in the control of the county's medical examiner due to the surge in deaths and new cases.

More than 1,400 health care workers from around Texas and others dispatched by the Defense Department are working to deal with the influx of cases, according to the Times, which has led at least one area hospital to set up tents to treat some patients outside due to overcapacity.

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Contributing to the chaos is conflicts between county, city and state officials, some of whom — including the state's attorney general — have fiercely resisted any lockdown measures meant to slow the virus's spread. The state passed 10,000 new cases in a single day for the first time this week, and its rate of new infections shows no sign of decreasing.

“One thing almost worse than being closed down is being confused about whether you are closed down,” local Chamber of Commerce President David Jerome told the Times. “I’m a big fan of 50 experiments in democracy but not when it comes to a pandemic.”

City officials reported more than a dozen coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday as well as hundreds of new confirmed cases.

“We really never deployed a true stay-at-home,” one county executive who favored a lockdown to slow the virus's spread told the Times. “We never got to see the full impact.”