Inmates volunteering at morgue as COVID-19 deaths overwhelm Texas
The inmates, who are being paid $2 an hour, are working "to assist with the overflow of bodies awaiting autopsy"
By Kate Feldman
New York Daily News
EL PASO, Texas — Inmates from the El Paso, Texas, detention facility have been brought in to help out at the overwhelmed morgue for barely more than than one-quarter of the state’s minimum wage.
Four to eight inmates, imprisoned on misdemeanor offenders and in minimum custody, are working daily shifts from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. “to assist with the overflow of bodies awaiting autopsy,” according to the Texas Tribune.
The inmates are being paid $2 an hour, Chris Acosta, a spokesperson for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, said.
Acosta would not tell the Tribune what the inmates, or “trustees," are doing specifically, but the newspaper published photos that showed them moving bodies into the mobile morgues set up outside the medical examiner’s office.
Inmates are reportedly provided with and required to wear personal protective equipment while working.
The sheriff’s office said this deal is only temporary until the National Guard arrives to provide support.
El Paso has been one of the hardest hit cities in Texas, the first state to reach 1 million coronavirus cases. As of Monday, 300 residents are in the ICU and 111 more hospitalized, according to the city’s dashboard.
Overall, El Paso has seen almost 75,000 cases and at least 769 deaths so far.
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