(Reuters) - Officials in the county of El Paso, Texas, said on Monday they are bringing in 10 temporary refrigerated morgue trailers to contend with one of the worst surges in coronavirus in the United States.
Six morgue trailers had already been deployed as of Monday, according to County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the most senior government executive in the county, which borders on Mexico. Four more have been requested from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency to be sent to local funeral homes as demand dictates, Samaniego said during a meeting of county commissioners.
Texas became the first U.S. state to surpass a million cumulative coronavirus cases on Saturday and currently accounts for over 10% of total cases in the country, which is contending with the deadliest outbreak in the world.
Last month, Samaniego issued emergency shutdown and stay-at-home orders in the hopes of containing the El Paso surge. It was meant to expire on Wednesday, but Samaniego said he was considering extending it.
"As a community we need to come together and decide as fellow El Pasoans, as part of this region, to make a determination for what El Paso needs at this time," he said at the meeting. "I need to repeat and emphasize that a temporary order would be very effective so that we don't have long-term impact on our economy."
In the city of El Paso, home to about 680,000 people, there have been 673 COVID-19 deaths so far, including an additional seven deaths reported on Monday. More than 1,000 people were hospitalized with the illness, including 304 people in intensive care units.
The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals nationwide breached 56,000 on Sunday, the highest since July 23. The figure is close to all-time record of 58,370 hospitalizations set on July 22.
(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in Washington, Anurag Maan in Bangalore and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell)