EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego sent a letter Friday to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott seeking approval to reimpose a curfew in El Paso as the surging number of Covid-19 deaths continues to overwhelm the county's morgue.
Samaniego's request came as the state mobilized a team of 36 Texas National Guard troops to provide help at the morgue starting Saturday. The troops, whose deployment was in question just a day prior, will relieve county jail inmates who had been utilized in recent days to move bodies from the morgue building into refrigerated trailers.
On Friday evening, the judge told ABC-7 that the Medical Examiner’s Office had 240 bodies filling up both the main morgue and nine mobile morgues currently in place.
Commissioner David Stout said the county also hoped to hire and have as many as 25 morgue attendants in place by Monday after receiving 500 applications for the newly-created temporary jobs in less than 24 hours. The positions will pay nearly $30 an hour but provide no healthcare benefits.
As of Friday, El Paso health department data showed there had been 845 confirmed virus deaths so far during the pandemic with 430 additional deaths currently under investigation.
Multiple sources told ABC News that El Paso’s Fatalities Management Taskforce was working to arrange a new central morgue facility to handle the massive number of deaths. The location was still undecided but when it is selected, it will likely not be publicly disclosed.
Samaniego's complete letter to Abbott can be viewed below.