EL PASO, Texas -- The Texas Military Department is now standing down for "mortuary duty" and won't be replacing jail inmates who have been used to move bodies of Covid-19 victims at the El Paso County morgue, according to Texas state Rep. and Senator-elect Cesar Blanco.
Blanco told ABC-7 Thursday evening that he was informed by the Texas Department of Emergency Management that the state military is standing down because there are "other resources" to be used, although those were not specified.
Earlier this week, Blanco was informed that a group of 30 Texas National Guard troops were mobilizing for duty to relieve El Paso County jail inmates who have been utilized in recent days to move bodies into mobile morgue refrigerated trailers.
The use of inmate labor at the morgue drew the ire of another state legislator, with state Rep. Joe Moody calling it "unconscionable" and adding, "we shouldn't be asking our inmates to do this."
Now, the El Paso County Medical Examiner's Office will be hiring morgue attendants.
According to a statement from the county on Thursday evening, commissioners have authorized the "immediate hiring" of multiple morgue attendants to help move bodies.
The county said these are temporary jobs and hiring will stop once positions are full.
The attendants will be provided "maximum PPE, and will receive a Covid test prior to starting," according to the county. Those hired for the jobs must be able to lift between 100 to 400 pounds with assistance.
"Not only is this assignment physically taxing, but it may be emotionally taxing as well," the statement said.
To apply or get more information about the morgue attendant positions, click here.