New report predicts hospital, ICU capacity in El Paso region will exceed in three weeks


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A new report is projecting the El Paso region will exceed hospital and ICU capacity for the virus in the next few weeks.

This comes as El Paso shifts to “stage one” in the COVID-19 community scorecard, which is considered the worst due to the high infection rate and hospitalizations.

We’re talking about the next three weeks which is a short-term projection of the COVID-19 surge in the El Paso region. The trauma service areas include Hudspeth and Culberson County. The fate of that projection coming true depends on the community as a whole.

The UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, a group of researchers and health professionals in Austin, is currently estimating hospital and ICU capacity in the El Paso region will exceed in the next three weeks.

“Based on the available hospital and ICU beds in the El Paso TSA, that it’s highly likely that we will exceed capacity in the next few weeks,” Dr. Spencer Fox, Associate Director of UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium told KTSM, “We’re projecting over an 80% probability of exceeding hospital capacity just based on hospital beds and over a 90% exceeding ICU beds.”

Researchers said the short-term projection is based on a model that’s formed to detect, project, and combat COVID-19 for every region in Texas.

“This is an intricate, mobility-driven model that is able to track the progression of the disease in communities based on hospital data, and that gives us insight into what’s happened historically and looking retrospectively,” Dr. Fox explained.

The consortium said these projections could be subject to change, but that’s if local policies, behaviors, or healthcare capacities change.

“We don’t know that for certain right now because hospital data will be lagged by behavioral changes by about a week to two weeks. So the behavioral change may have already happened in the past week, but it won’t show up in the hospital data for another week or two,” Dr. Fox said.

Researchers also break down data that represents how many people are currently infected in El Paso, “Right now for El Paso, we’re estimating that roughly 2-percent of the population is currently infectious with the disease. This means that if you have a gathering with people, roughly there’s a 2-percent chance that every person is infected in your community.”

To get a better look at the Consortium’s projection model for El Paso County, click here. For a look at the full report of all regions in Texas, click here.

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