State Watch

National Guard members sent to El Paso to help at overwhelmed morgue

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Three dozen Texas National Guard troops were deployed to El Paso County to aid in “mortuary affairs support” amid a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in the state.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management said a total of 36 troops had been deployed, according to CNN. El Paso Mayor Dee Margo (R) said city and county officials have established a central location for a morgue in the city.

The troops are set to replace the jail inmates the county previously deployed to transport the bodies of those who died from the virus in the area, CNN reported.

Chris Acosta, a spokesperson for El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed last week that while inmates are typically not compensated for such work, the inmates in question volunteered on the condition that they be compensated.

“As we’ve seen a rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations, we are unfortunately also seeing a spike in deaths,” Margo tweeted Friday. “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,” Margo added.

The county is one of the Lone Star State’s hotspots for the virus, reporting 1,074 new cases Saturday and eight additional deaths, for a total of 853 dead overall. The state has recorded a total of 1.13 million cases and just under 21,000 deaths.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Texas
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