Inmates in El Paso, Texas, are being contracted to move corpses after local morgues have experienced autopsy backlogs following a surge in coronavirus deaths.
Between four and eight inmates from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office detention facility who are facing low-level misdemeanor offenses volunteer daily to transport the bodies, according to The Texas Tribune. The prisoners make $2 per hour for their service, despite typically not receiving pay for other jobs, the local outlet reported.
Images show mask-clad inmates in striped uniforms pushing stretchers with what appear to be bodies covered in plastic, according to The Tribune. Other photos show the prisoners loading corpses onto eight truck trailers serving as temporary morgues — the number of which is said to increase to 10 in the near future, the local outlet reported.
Still chilling—El Paso County jail inmates hired to load bodies of deceased #COVID19 patients into emergency overflow morgues for just $2/hour, 8 hours/day. Previously just weekdays, but now weekends too. It seems their PPE is goggles & KN95 & apron. https://t.co/tATCzritNL pic.twitter.com/AggcNk7o2z
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) November 16, 2020
A spokesman for the sheriff’s office said the assignment is temporary, as the county awaits a National Guard detachment, according to The Tribune.
A total of 45 people died from the virus in El Paso county between Thursday and Friday and approximately 1,100 are hospitalized in the area, the local outlet reported. Texas has around 1,000,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and roughly 19,500 deaths, according to a state health services map.
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