The morgue in El Paso, Tx., is so overwhelmed by the number of people dying from COVID-19 that inmates from the county’s detention facility are being brought in to help with the overflow of bodies awaiting autopsy. While the work inmates do in the community typically goes unpaid, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chris Acosta said they “refused to work unless they were compensated.” They’re making $2 per hour, reports the Texas Tribune. Between four and eight inmates from the detention facility’s trustee program are volunteering daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The inmates are misdemeanor offenders and those in minimum custody.
Acosta said said the inmates, one deputy and two detention officers are given personal protective equipment and are required to wear it. The trustees are moving bodies to the eight, soon to be 10, mobile morgues set up outside the medical examiner’s office. The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in the far West Texas city has shot up nearly tenfold since the start of September. Earlier this month, the Department of Defense sent medical teams to help, and local funeral homes are readying extra refrigerated storage space.