EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Despite recent decreases, El Paso County leaders say there is still a backlog of bodies at the morgue that’s leaving some funeral homes overwhelmed.
In November, the County had to hire workers to assist with the overflow of bodies at the Medical Examiner’s Office. Up to date, there’s still a number of bodies being kept there, however enough personnel helping handle the situation at the morgue.
“We’re starting to get down to numbers that were much lower than the big surge and cases in October and November,” said El Paso County Commissioner David Stout, “So we hope we can continue to do that and it’s still going to be a slow process because there are still folks that are unfortunately passing away and the funeral homes are still needing our service.”
Commissioner Stout says as of Monday, 115 bodies are currently being held at the Medical Examiner’s Office.
According to data from epstrong.org, 93 deaths under investigation was reported Monday. Stout clarifies this data collected is separate from the Medical Examiner’s Office data.
“The medical examiner’s office is not the one doing the investigations on the COVID deaths, it’s actually the department of health that’s in charge of that,” Stout explained, “The Medical Examiner is assisting with the storage of the descendants because there was just such a huge influx of deaths as we all know recently. The morgues and funeral homes have been overwhelmed.”
As KTSM 9 News has previously reported in November of last year, inmates at the County Detention Facility were helping move the bodies due to the backlog. The County then hired several temporary morgue attendants who are still working there to this day.
“We do still have a number of staff that are working with withholding the descendants as well as the national guard. They’re still deployed and helping the County with those operations,” Stout shared.
Stout reminds the public in order to help prevent any increases, people should follow safety protocols and get vaccinated if they haven’t already, “Remain vigilant, remain patient and just take care of each other.”
The County Commissioner adds it’s unclear how much longer the National Guard will remain deployed here, however also foresees no more additional workers needed to be hired.