EL PASO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The El Paso County judge announced Sunday the area’s hospitals and intensive care units have reached capacity due to the recent COVID-19 surge and that a curfew will be imposed for all citizens.
County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said during a news conference on Facebook that the curfew will take place between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and will be used to help “limit mobility in the community.” This is part of an executive order he issued Sunday.
“It is in fact the recommendation from public health and from our medical advisors and professionals that minimizing the mobility will in fact impact the flattening of the curve,” Samaniego said. “So the less mobility the less possibility when you have that many cases that are active at this point in time, you will be addressing… that the virus does not continue as much as we’ve seen it the last three or four days.”
The order also requires residents to stay at home unless they need to access essential services. The judge is also asking that only one person per family access those essential services when needed.
According to officials, any peace officer can enforce the new order. Residents can face fines of up to $250 if they are not wearing face masks or coverings and up to $500 for other violations of the order.
El Paso County health officials reported 517 new cases on Sunday, which was a day after a record 1,216 cases were reported. The county’s totals are now at 39,326 cases and 575 deaths.
The judge said the county has seen a 160% increase in positivity rate since Oct. 1 and a 300% increase in hospitalizations. He said all area hospitals and intensive care units were at 100% capacity as of Saturday, Oct. 24.
“We are at a crisis stage,” Samaniego said.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Sunday that part of the El Paso convention center will be converted into a makeshift hospital, with at least 50 beds being set up for now. Fifty more could be added if needed, Abbott said.
On Saturday, Abbott requested authorization from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to use the William Beaumont Army Medical Center on Fort Bliss for non-COVID patients in an effort to free up space.