With deaths mounting, virus risk weighs more heavily on owner of body pick-up service


McALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — The number of COVID-19 deaths in the Rio Grande Valley is overwhelming hospitals and funeral homes.

Juan Lopez is the owner of Elite Transport Service. He has spent the last 20 years of his life picking up the deceased. With many people dying from COVID-19, Lopez was rethinking about staying in this line of work.

Juan Lopez, owner of Elite Transport Service in Hidalgo County, Texas.

“I was not going to pick up any COVID-19 bodies because I was worried about my own safety, my family and kids,” Lopez said.

The Rio Grande Valley has seen a drastic number of coronavirus-related deaths in the last month. Lopez is the one to call when a body needs to be picked up from a home or a hospital, which has been overwhelming for his business. 

“We use to pick up from 20-30 a month, and now it’s 15 to 20 to 30 a day,” he said.

With so many bodies to transport, Lopez said the dangers of his job are at an all time high. 

“Be safe every time we go pick up a patient with COVID-19, especially in the houses because sometimes in the houses there’s a lot of people that are not wearing masks or wearing gloves.”

Lopez gears up with a face mask, gloves and a suit every time he picks up a body, especially since he says many of the families are not truthful about what that individual died from. He urges families to be honest about whether their family has been exposed to the virus.

“Sometimes we need to let the people know, don’t be scared to tell us that he was positive for COVID-19 or you are positive because we need to know,” said Lopez as he continues getting phone calls.

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