EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso saw the highest number of new cases and hospitalizations on Sunday. Dr. Hector Ocaranza with the City/ County Health Authority says the new cases are related to community spread.
Ocaranza explains that for every 100 people who are tested, nine of them test positive. With about 50% of those positive cases being of people between the ages 20 to 30 years old.
Dr. Ocaranza urging people not to go out unless necessary.
“A lot of the gathering, especially if it is even between extended family that can lead to many people of the same family getting exposed and getting infected. So close contact we need to remember is the best way that we are going to be transmitting the virus from one person to another,” said Dr. Ocaranza.
Although, it is still unclear if some of the new cases or the spike in cases is related to the El Paso Black Lives Matter protests.
“That is one of the questions we ask people during the investigations, and they have not stated that they have attended protests, but it’s possible they attended the protests, and maybe they are reluctant to say they participated,” said City of El Paso spokesperson, Laura Cruz-Acosta.
On Sunday, 147 patients were hospitalized with 68 in the ICU. A new high for El Paso, but University Medical Center say they are prepared and are not at capacity.
“At UMC, all of our rooms are single capacity; in other words, it’s one person to a room. There are many opportunities for us to converge some of those rooms into two people per room. That way, we can free up rooms to convert into ICU beds,” said Ryan Mielke, spokesperson for University Medical Center.
Many have questioned whether the City is counting New Mexico or Juárez COVID patients in the hospitalization numbers. Dr. Ocaranza says the number of hospitalizations does represent the total number of people in El Paso hospitals for COVID-19, whether or not they are El Paso residents.
“A lot of times we don’t have a primary place of residence, and if it says they are from El Paso, then we are counting them. Those hospitalizations definitely reflect all the COVID patients that we have admitted to the hospital,” said Dr. Ocaranza.
Mayor Dee Margo says the City of El Paso will be updating its health directive as a result of the sharp rise in positive cases.
“In tandem with the Governor’s new Order issued last Friday, the City of El Paso will be updating our directive,” said Margo. “We are tracking our hospital capacity closely and will continue to take measures to slow the spread of this virus. We will not let our guard down.”