El Paso County now gets 4th mobile morgue as virus death toll grows
UPDATE: The El Paso County Medical Examiner's Office is now getting a fourth refrigerated mobile morgue as Covid-19 deaths continue to rise, with more expected as the numbers of hospital patients in ICUs and on respirators reached all-time highs on Sunday.
"My understanding is that we just got our fourth one," County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told ABC-7 on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier Sunday, El Paso exceeded 600 virus deaths during the pandemic and health officials reported over 1,200 added infections contributing a record number of active cases.
ORIGINAL REPORT: EL PASO, Texas -- Two mobile morgues are currently in El Paso, and now a third one is on its way due to a significant increase expected in coronavirus deaths stemming from soaring infection and hospitalization rates.
"The County is currently working on creating more space at our Medical Examiner's Office parking lot so that we can get a third mobile morgue unit," County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced Saturday on Twitter.
He added grimly, "If that doesn't put our situation into perspective I don't know what will."
On Saturday, El Paso's total virus deaths had reached one shy of 600, as an all-time high 1,643 new cases were reported and a record number of hospital patients were on ventilators. Doctors and health leaders have said many ventilator patients ultimately don't survive their battle with Covid-19.
Samaniego also thanked the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, which announced early Saturday that it would begin aggressively enforcing the judge's recently ordered shutdown of all non-essential services and business for a two week period in the hopes of stemming the tide of virus spread.
The order is being challenged in court, but it's unclear when the case might be heard. For now, the county attorney and the sheriff each say the order is valid and enforceable.
Thanks to our Sheriff's Office @EPSHERIFF for aligning with the County in order to protect the health and safety of our community. I pray for all of our law enforcement agencies who are on the frontlines during these difficult times.— County Judge Ricardo Samaniego (@EPCountyJudge) October 31, 2020