Wanted: Morgue Workers

El Paso County has been using jail inmates to move bodies
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2020 5:20 PM CST
County Posts Morgue Jobs
Certified Nursing Assistant Angelica Corral changes her personal protective equipment as she moves from room to room at the El Paso Long Term Acute Care center earlier this month in El Paso, Texas.   (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP)

"Not only is this assignment physically taxing, but it may be emotionally taxing as well," the job announcement warns. The job is in El Paso County's morgues. The area, and its morgue, are overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, NPR reports. Postings have gone up for temporary jobs as morgue attendants and administrative assistants, employees to help process autopsies and prepare the dead. Attendants have to be able to lift 100 to 400 pounds, with help. Starting pay is $27.20 an hour, and the posting says hazard pay might be available through the end of the year. The job is not for everyone. "We've had people there that have lasted an hour, 30 minutes, half a day," an official said. "So, it's a difficult process."

Noting that there were 247 bodies at the county's main morgue and nine mobile ones as of Thursday, the health department chief said, "My sense of urgency is to continue to do everything possible to maintain the integrity and dignity of our fellow El Pasoans who have been lost to this virus." Local officials have asked the Texas National Guard for help but haven't heard back. The county has been using volunteer jail inmates to move bodies in the morgues, paying them $2 an hour, per the El Paso Times. If the inmates hadn't been recruited, funerals would have been delayed more than they have already. "We are shorthanded, and we have no one but the inmates to do it," an official said, per the Texas Tribune. (More El Paso stories.)

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