Nov 22, 2020 - Health

National Guard to support El Paso morgues as COVID deaths surge

A mobile Morgue.

People in El Paso load bodies wrapped in plastic into a refrigerated temporary morgue trailer on Nov. 16. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Members of the Texas National Guard have been deployed to El Paso County to support the region's morgue operations, as the county undergoes a "spike in deaths" related to COVID-19, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo announced.

The backdrop: Texas became the first state to surpass 1 million coronavirus cases earlier this month.

  • The team of 36 National Guard troops was mobilized Saturday morning. It will "provide mortuary affairs support," a spokesperson for the Texas Division of Emergency Management told CNN.

What they're saying: "As we've seen a rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations, we are unfortunately also seeing a spike in deaths," Margo said.

  • "We have been working closely with funeral homes and mortuaries to assist with increased capacity and coordination of resources."
  • "The Texas military will provide us with the critical personnel to carry out our fatality management plan and we are very grateful to them for their ongoing support."

The big picture: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have accelerated across the country heading into the holidays. The number of hospitalizations reached a new peak of 83,227 on Saturday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

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