Texas National Guard deployed to help El Paso with morgue overflow

Texas National Guard troops have been deployed to El Paso, Texas, to help with morgue operations as the town and county grapple with a COVID-19 surge. 

The Texas Division of Emergency Management mentioned in a statement that “after completing an assessment of the situation on the ground in El Paso County this week, the state has mobilized a team of 36 Texas National Guard personnel to provide mortuary affairs support beginning at 0900 tomorrow,” CBS’ El Paso affiliate reported Friday. 

The metropolis’s mayor, Dee Margo, mentioned on Twitter Friday {that a} “rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations” has introduced on a “spike in deaths.” The Texas Military will now present “the critical personnel” to perform the town’s “fatality management plan.”

El Paso metropolis and county have secured a “central morgue location to further support the Medical Examiner’s Office, funeral homes and mortuaries with additional capacity,” he mentioned.

Bodies wrapped in plastic line the partitions inside a refrigerated trailer used as a cell morgue by the El Paso County Medical Examiner’s workplace in El Paso, Texas on November 13, 2020.

JUSTIN HAMEL/AFP by way of Getty Images

There at the moment are greater than 300 individuals in an intensive care unit throughout El Paso County due to COVID-19. Earlier this month, officers mentioned they have been bringing in 10 non permanent morgue trailers. 

So many have died that the county has posted job openings for morgue attendants. 

El Paso County was paying jail inmates $2 an hour to transfer the our bodies of deceased COVID victims. Prison labor is not uncommon, however movies of inmates carrying striped jumpsuits loading plastic-wrapped our bodies onto refrigerated vans sparked issues about their therapy through the surge in virus circumstances, particularly as outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons have been a recurring problem all through the pandemic.    

El Paso is only one space being hit onerous amid a nationwide virus surge. The U.S. recorded 195,000 new virus circumstances on Friday, the ninth time this month a report has been set for brand spanking new confirmed infections in a single day, in accordance to knowledge from Johns Hopkins University. There have been 1,300 deaths a day since Sunday, and hospitalizations topped 82,000 on Friday. 

El Paso well being officers reported almost 1,074 new COVID-19 circumstances and eight deaths on Saturday, bringing the totals to 80,291 circumstances and 853 fatalities, in accordance to the town and county COVID-19 dashboard.

Intensive care models throughout the town and county are so overwhelmed with COVID sufferers that they are flying the contaminated to different Texas cities so as to save lives, CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca reported earlier this week. 

Brock Miller, a spokesperson for ambulance airline AirMed International, mentioned 50% of the corporate’s flights at the moment are associated to COVID-19. 

Miller informed Villafranca he is by no means seen something prefer it earlier than. “We’ve had SARS, H1N1, but nothing compares to COVID,” he mentioned.

According to the Texas Emergency Task Force, at the very least 84 sufferers have used an air ambulance for the reason that pandemic started — all of them from El Paso inside the final month. 

Other cities within the state at the moment have the bodily capability to tackle El Paso’s overflow, however Austin Mayor Steve Adler informed Villafranca on Wednesday that if the numbers of COVID-19 sufferers proceed to rise there’s concern about having sufficient healthcare staff to take care of them. 

“We have physical space, but as we learned in June/July, the real threat to us is having people so that our staff’s (not) overwhelmed,” he mentioned.

Adler, nonetheless, warned on Friday that the town can even “soon run out of hospital beds” if individuals don’t put on face masks, social distance, and keep away from teams and non-essential bodily contact. “We have the power to stay under our 200-bed hospital capacity and avoid Stage 5- Red,” he wrote on Twitter. “We have done it before – we can do this again, together.”

More than 250,000 individuals have died from virus within the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged individuals not to journey for Thanksgiving

“Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu,” the CDC says. “Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”

Nevertheless, an estimated 50 million Americans are anticipated to journey over the vacation, growing the nation’s danger of extra exponential progress in circumstances, and deaths, heading into winter. 


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