November 5, 2020 -- A fourth mobile morgue has been sent to El Paso as the Texas border town grapples with an ever-growing COVID-19 crisis.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said medical examiners cannot keep pace with the number of autopsies, according to television station KFOX. Medical examiners had a backlog of 94 cases on Monday, he said.
The fourth mobile morgue comes days after the third arrived.
"People that die are under investigation, to see if they died of COVID and to discern whether or not they had other diseases. That holds back the process," Samaniego told KFOX. "I think you're going to see tremendous more deaths coming up in the next 2 to 3 days.”
The COVID-19 dashboard for the city/county of El Paso showed 617 deaths and 56,356 coronavirus cases recorded since the pandemic began. On Wednesday morning, a record 3,100 new cases were reported, said the El Paso Times.
Local hospitals are overloaded. As of Wednesday, 1,041 people were hospitalized, with 311 in intensive care, the COVID dashboard said. The city has opened its civic center to accommodate additional hospital beds.
"What we have been asking is for all of us to take an active role in prevention and to take this pandemic seriously," Hector Ocaranza, MD, the city-county health authority, told the El Paso Times. "Our hospitals are near breaking point, we need everyone to do their part to stop this virus.”
El Paso is a COVID hotspot in one of the hardest-hit states in the country. Johns Hopkins University said Texas recently moved ahead of California – the most populous state in the nation -- for having the most confirmed coronavirus cases -- about 950,000.