EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As Saturday begins, so does the end of of the deadliest and most taxing week on the medical system in El Paso since the COVID-19 virus arrived in the Sun City back on March 13.
The City of El Paso Department of Health confirmed the death of a woman in her 50s on Saturday, bringing the number of deaths associated with the virus in El Paso to 78 — 20 of those coming just since last Sunday.
In addition to the woman’s death, the City is also reporting 81 additional COVID-19 cases, for a total of 2,704 positive virus tests since testing began.
The overall number of newly reported cases fell in El Paso this week, the first time the city has seen fewer newly-reported cases than the prior week since numbers briefly fell during the week of April 26-May 2. Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott explained surge team response might initially create very high numbers of new cases, just as El Paso saw last week.
“Every time we have pushed these surge teams into hot zones, they’ve met with very good results,” Abbott said in an interview with KTSM’s Wes Rapaport on May 22. “But what happens is over the first week you will see a massive increase in the amount of tests as well as the amount of the people who test positive, and then after about two weeks, you see a decline in both tests and those testing positive and you see a containment of the problem.”
Although the number of newly-infected patients decreased in El Paso, the strain on El Paso’s healthcare system continued through Saturday. There are currently 106 people hospitalized, 59 in ICU, and a record 31 people on ventilators. The number of those hospitalized this week averaged 110 people per day, whereas last week, the hospital average was 101 people per day. Ventilator patients averaged 24.5 per-day this week, versus just 17.4 per week in the prior week.
Texas’ Department of State Health Services hospital dashboard shows just 42 available ICU beds in the trauma region serving El Paso, Hudspeth, and Culberson Counties as of Saturday morning.
State data released this week also shows a grim picture for nursing facilities in El Paso, where the state confirms 21 nursing facilities have confirmed COVID-19 cases. They account for 178 positive virus cases and 20 deaths in El Paso alone.
Friday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported a massive increase in the number of positive tests reported at the Sanchez Unit State Jail in Far East El Paso. As of Friday, there are 227 active cases at the Sanchez Unit and 39 recovered cases. In addition to the inmates, 11 employees are currently infected with the virus, while eight have recovered.
Similarly, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the El Paso ICE Processing Center jumped overnight, from 22 reported on Thursday evening to 30 reported by ICE by Friday night.
TESTING STILL AVAILABLE
Residents are reminded that the Texas Military Department Mobile Testing Team (TMD-MTT) will continue COVID-19 testing in El Paso through June 2 at the four mobile testing sites and various rural community sites.
TMD-MTT testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. Citizens are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online at WWW.TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or by calling 512- 883-2400.
Testing is free and available to members of the community with or without COVID-19 symptoms. Testing within the City of El Paso is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following dates and locations:
May 30 through June 2:
- Armijo Recreation Center and Pool; 710 E 7th Ave, El Paso, TX
- Nations Tobin Park; 8831 Railroad Dr., El Paso, TX
- Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills Blvd, El Paso, TX
- Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX
Testing in the rural communities is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following dates and locations:
- May 30: Tornillo ISD Administrative Building; 19200 Cobb Ave., Tornillo, TX
- June 1: Horizon First Baptist Church; 17018 Darrington Road, Horizon City, TX
- June 2: San Elizario Fire Station; 1415 San Antonio Rd., San Elizario, TX
For more information about the various public and private testing locations throughout the community click here or visit, www.epstrong.org.
Wes Rapaport contributed to this report.