COVID-19 on epidemic trend in El Paso, while flu numbers on the decline

Local

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The El Paso region is seeing a big jump in the number of COVID-19 cases per week on average, indicating a troubling trend, according to a California-based data mapping firm.

Data compiled by Esri, which analyzes information across the country, shows that in the past two weeks, COVID-19 cases are on an “epidemic trend.” The situation looks “strongly worse,” when looking at data from last Spring and after the holidays.

What it means to be on an “epidemic trend” is to have 33 cases per 100,000 people per day, which El Paso has seen for the past 251 days. The Chief Medical Officer for Esri tells KTSM 9 News that in the past two weeks, El Paso is not showing positive signs.

“You had a steep rise in cases late October to the first week in November and then things really turned around and we saw big drops in case numbers,” said Dr. Este Geraghty the Chief Medical Officer for Esri. “Until actually the most recent two weeks and it started turning up again so all of that’s still an epidemic trend,” said Geraghty.

While COVID-19 cases continue to rise, El Paso’s flu cases are showing a decline.

“That’s good news,” Geraghty said. “But it’s also partly because more people did get their flu shot.”

Geraghty explains that COVID-19 spreads more than the flu as it is harder to detect immediately.

“A person generally gets infected with the flu and will have symptoms within about one day of that infection,” said Geraghty. “It’s different for COVID because symptoms often don’t show up for on average, five days. So, you have a lot more chance to spread COVID versus spreading the flu.”

Despite El Paso showing a decline in the flu, the county is still the number five top market for flu medications being sold across the country according to the Walgreens Flu Index. Behind: Tyler Texas, Montgomery, Alabama, Corpus Christi, Texas, and San Antonio, Texas.

While still number five on the list, last flu season El Paso was number four.

“Even though El Paso is experiencing a larger number of flu medications than other places, it’s all better than it was last year. So, that means that social distancing and mask-wearing and hand washing is probably preventing a big flu season so it’s partly good news,” said Geraghty.


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