Curfew Enacted in El Paso as Hospitals, ICUs Hit Capacity

October 26, 2020 Updated: October 26, 2020

El Paso County in Texas has ordered a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. after hospitals and intensive care units reached full capacity due to a surge of COVID-19 cases.

County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced the curfew on Sunday evening, requiring residents of the county and El Paso City to stay at home, except those who provide essential services. Violations are punishable by a $500 fine, reported the El Paso Times.

“The purpose of the curfew is to limit mobility in the community,” Samaniego said during a virtual press conference. “Currently our hospitals are stretched to capacity.”

As of Monday morning, the county reported an all-time high 1,443 new CCP virus infections, according to the City/County of El Paso Health website. Hospitalization also reached a record high of 853, with 180 in intensive care units.

El Paso Public Health Director Angela Mora on Sunday asked residents to stay home for two weeks to help curb the spread of the CCP virus, citing a 300 percent increase in COVID-related hospitalizations in the past three weeks.

“If we continue on this trend, we risk detrimental effects to our entire healthcare system,” Mora said in a statement obtained by El Paso Times. “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.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday that El Paso’s civic center will be converted into a makeshift hospital. The center will initially be equipped with 50 beds but can be expand to 100 beds if needed. He also said the state has deployed 900 doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to El Paso, and some of them will be working at the civic center hospital.

In a follow-up statement, Abbott said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sending a 35-person disaster medical assistance team, a trauma critical care team, and emergency coordinators to El Paso to fight the surge of COVID-19 cases. The federal resources are expected to arrive this week.

“Texas is grateful to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for providing these crucial resources and for working alongside state and local officials to combat the spread of COVID-19 in El Paso,” said the Republican governor. “We are working closely with our federal and local partners to meet the needs of the El Paso community and ultimately bring hospitalizations down.”