Curfew imposed in El Paso County in Texas as all hospitals and ICUs hit 100% capacity

El Paso County in Texas has ordered a curfew between 10pm and 5am as the number of cases COVID-19 skyrocket and all hospitals reach 100 percent capacity. 

The drastic move was announced late Sunday afternoon by El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and will be in place for the next two weeks.

Samaniego said El Paso is now ‘at a crisis stage’, with all of its hospitals and intensive care units now full as the region grapples with a troubling surge in COVID-19 cases.   

The fine for breaking the curfew is $500 and anyone caught not wearing a face mask will face a $250 penalty.   

People wearing masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic are pictured on October 24, 2020 in downtown El Paso, Texas

People wearing masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic are pictured on October 24, 2020 in downtown El Paso, Texas

Nurses gather information from patients lining up in their cars for Covid-19 tests at the University of Texas El Paso on October 23

Nurses gather information from patients lining up in their cars for Covid-19 tests at the University of Texas El Paso on October 23

Samaniego made it clear, however, that the curfew does not apply to essential workers or citizens accessing ‘essential services’. However, those accessing essential services are permitted only to send one person per-household.  

Local officials said any peace officer, including the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the El Paso Police Department, are able enforce the order, FOX14 reported.

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Samaniego said individuals out past curfew will be stopped and questioned, with any repeat offenders being issued fines. 

All parks and recreational facilities have been also closed throughout the city of El Paso and El Paso county for 14 days. 

Samaniego said complete a shutdown was considered by officials to stem the coronavirus spike, however it was opted against because of the devastating impact such a motion could have economically. 

‘It’s going to be critical for our community to stand firm,’ Samaniego said.

The judge added that the next two weeks will be crucial in determining how locals will ‘celebrate Thanksgiving’. 

Over the last three weeks, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the El Paso area has tripled to a record 786, according to state data 

El Paso health officials announced 517 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the county’s total up to more than 39,920. 

The total figure has skyrocketed from around 25,000 cases recorded at the beginning of the month.

‘If we continue on this trend, we risk detrimental effects to our entire healthcare system,’ the city’s public health director, Angela Mora, said in a statement. ‘For the sake of those hospitalized and the frontline healthcare workers working tirelessly each day to care for them, we ask you to please stay home for two weeks and eliminate your interactions with those outside your household until we can flatten the curve.’ 

Also speaking during Sunday afternoon’s press conference was CEO of the University Medical Center Jacob Cintron, who said COVID-19 hospitalizations are the highest in El Paso since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Saturday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked the federal government to allow the use of an army medical center at Fort Bliss by non-coronavirus patients to ease the burden on hospitals.

On Sunday, Abbott said state emergency management officials will open an alternate care site this week, initially with 50 beds, at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center.

The U.S has seen spikes in coronavirus cases in recent days, with 83,718 new cases reported Saturday, as well as 914 deaths.

Hospitalizations are also rising and have hit a two-month high and deaths are trending upwards, according to a Reuters tally.

So far in October, 29 states have set records for increases in new cases, including five considered key in the November 3 presidential election: Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Cases in the Midwest set a new record on Saturday and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in that region hit an all-time high for the ninth day in a row.

Hospitals are strained in several states including North Dakota, which is the hardest hit based on recent new cases per capita, according to a Reuters analysis.

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