EL PASO, Texas — As Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations climb to all-time highs in El Paso, local funeral homes are preparing for an increase in the use for their services.
Sunset Funeral Homes and Perches Funeral Homes each told ABC-7 they have added extra mortuary refrigerators at some of their locations.
Within the last two months, Sunset added three refrigerators — one at their west location and two at their east location — that can hold up to 20 bodies.
They have also added four portable refrigerators that hold three bodies each.
“We saw the surge in cases and deaths here in El Paso and we knew it wasn’t going to end anytime soon,” said Christopher Lujan, funeral manager at Sunset.
Perches Funeral Home director Salvador Perches told ABC-7 that an extra refrigerator was added inside a chapel at one their locations.
Perches said their extra refrigerator can hold 80 bodies.
El Paso City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said the health department is expecting a rise in deaths as well and is working closely with the Medical Examiner's Office.
"First, initially, we see the rise in positive cases. Then we see the rise in hospitalizations and unfortunately, we see the rise in deaths," Ocaranza said.
An El Paso County spokesperson said the morgue at the Medical Examiner's Office is 33% full -- only 29 bodies were held there as of Wednesday.
They are not using mobile morgues at this time like they did during the summer, the spokesperson said.
The charity organization Operation Hope is still providing assistance with funeral expenses for families who have lost a loved one due to Covid-19. Since the pandemic, they've helped 422 families.
Families seeking assistance can call Opreation Hope at 915-590-0490.