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As morgue space runs low Valleywide, Hidalgo County to share FEMA refrigerated trailer with Cameron County

1 month 21 hours 31 minutes ago Friday, July 10 2020 Jul 10, 2020 July 10, 2020 6:03 PM July 10, 2020 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic

Hidalgo County officials will be sharing a refrigerated FEMA trailer with neighboring Cameron County as soon as this weekend, Ricardo Saldaña, Hidalgo County emergency management coordinator, said.

The county received the large trailer six weeks ago. It has a 50-body capacity, Saldaña estimated. It currently sits vacant and unused outside the county's morgue where space is dwindling, but not as fast as it is in Cameron County.

"I'm going to let them take this one, because they are in dire need," Saldaña said.

Two more trailers are on their way to Hidalgo County, though they will be smaller. They have the capacity to hold about 30 bodies each.

Hidalgo County officials are requesting these trailers, anticipating the worst-case scenario — running out of space at the morgue.

"As you know, we've been having more people pass, because of this coronavirus, and we needed morgue space. So, in anticipation we requested these two trailers so we can use them for that. We've already received one. It's already in our premises. And, we're scheduled to receive a second one. I hope to God that we don't need to use them," Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said.

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera is thinking ahead, too. On Friday, the Starr County health authority, Dr. Jose Vazquez, said they're running out of bed space as their positive COVID-19 cases keep rising.

"We have requested a refrigerated trailer from the state, so that we can park next to the hospital. Hopefully, there won't be too much of a need, but we want to be ready and prepared in case there is," Vera said. The Starr County is still waiting on a response.

Saldaña said Cameron County had requested a trailer, but it was too slow in coming.

"We're making arrangements to relocate it to Cameron County," Saldaña said.

Morgue space is running low, but the numbers were not readily provided.

Hospitals are not immune to the situation. DHR Health also confirmed it purchased a refrigerated trailer.

"As DHR Health remains diligent in the fight against COVID-19 in these unprecedented times. We are mitigating and preparing at every level for the continued surge of cases in our community. DHR Health purchased a refrigerated trailer to be prepared if the need should arise. Our Health system has also retro fitted 2 facilities and added over 200 beds designed and dedicated to treat COVID patients. The situation in the RGV is critical and we continue to urge everyone to help by staying home if at all possible, wear face coverings, practice hand hygiene and social distancing."

Dr. Carlos Cardenas, DHR Health chairman of the board

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