Mobile morgue on standby in Lubbock as COVID-19 deaths keep coming

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LUBBOCK, Texas — On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety office in Lubbock confirmed that a refrigerated truck was on standby for use as a mobile morgue.

The truck belongs to the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) which shares an office location with DPS in Lubbock.

As of Wednesday, there was nothing in the truck.

Lubbock and Lubbock County combined did see some improvement on Wednesday as the number of hospitalized COVID patients fell from 343 to 301.

However, Lubbock and Lubbock County recorded 449 new cases and three additional deaths on Wednesday. Since the start of the pandemic, 286 people died from COVID in Lubbock or Lubbock County. On November 1, it was 208 deaths – meaning the average is more than 4 deaths per day so far this month.

Lubbock Health Authority, Dr. Ronald Cook, said Lubbock is close to requesting a so-called refer truck, or refrigerated truck, for use as a mobile morgue.

“The fire department has made some shelving units for us,” Cook said. “We’ve gone to extra efforts to try to find more space.”

“If we don’t slow this down, we’ll be calling for some extra space and that may include … refer truck, [which] stands for refrigerated trucks, or mobile morgues. The DPS has some,” Cook said.

“There’s other contractors that we could ask to come help us. We’re close,” Cook said. “It’s not just a hospital thing. It’s a morgue and mortuary issue, too.”

“We’re close,” he repeated.

Cook said nearly half of patients in UMC and Covenant were COVID positive. For the 22-county region around Lubbock, 28.71 percent were COVID positive as of Wednesday according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The city will close large municipal facilities and city athletic facilities for the remainder of the year, Mayor Dan Pope said. City Council meetings, along with boards and commissions, will meet via video conference and not in-person, Pope also said.

As of Thursday morning, more than 1,300 people signed a petition asking Governor Greg Abbott to consider enforceable mandates. Abbott also plans to speak in Lubbock at 1:00 p.m. Thursday.

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