Inmates paid $2 to ‘move deceased Covid patients to mobile overflow morgues’ as infections soar

·2 min read

Texas inmates were being paid $2 an hour to work at the local morgue amid a surge in local deaths associated with the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report, while awaiting assistance from the US National Guard.

The situation has turned grim all over the country, with a spike in Covid-19 infections spreading across the south and more rural parts of the US that had not previously seen significant breakouts of the novel virus.

A spokesperson for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the temporary work assignment was for a group of inmates in low-level custody in a statement to the Texas Tribune.

He said the “trustees refused to work unless they were compensated” and so the inmates were then provided $2 per hour, as well as personal protective equipment.

Inmates working at the El Paso County detention facilities are not typically paid.

The newspaper reported that at least 10 mobile morgues were meanwhile being constructed outside of the medical examiner’s office amid the wave of infections.

At least 45 people in the county have died since Thursday due to complications resulting from Covid-19, according to local tracking data, with over a thousand more people currently in hospital.

Throughout the US, nearly 250,000 people have died due to the pandemic. More than 11 million Americans have been infected with the virus since the pandemic began earlier this year, according to official estimates.

The country was meanwhile easing coronavirus restrictions in many states, including in Texas, where some guidelines were lifted in September.

El Paso county has attempted to enforce a shutdown but it has been the subject of legal challenges by the state’s attorney general, as well as a group of restauranteurs.

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