Curfew imposed in El Paso County, Texas, from 10pm to 5am as COVID cases rise and all hospitals hit 100% capacity – prompting fears more areas will do the same
- The drastic move was announced late Sunday afternoon by El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and will be in place for the next two weeks
- Samaniego said El Paso is now ‘at a crisis stage’, with all of its hospitals and ICUs now full as the region grapples with a troubling surge in COVID-19 cases
- The fine for breaking the curfew is $500 and anyone caught not wearing a face mask will face a $250 penalty
- El Paso County has also closed all its parks and recreational facilities for 14 days
The drastic move was announced late Sunday afternoon by El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and will be in place for the next two weeks.
Samaniego said El Paso is now ‘at a crisis stage’, with all of its hospitals and intensive care units now full as the region grapples with a troubling surge in COVID-19 cases.
The fine for breaking the curfew is $500 and anyone caught not wearing a face mask will face a $250 penalty.
Nurses gather information from patients lining up in their cars for Covid-19 tests at the University of Texas El Paso on October 23
Samaniego made it clear, however, that the curfew does not apply to essential workers or citizens accessing ‘essential services’. However, those accessing essential services are permitted only to send one person per-household.
Local officials said any peace officer, including the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the El Paso Police Department, are able enforce the order, FOX14 reported.
Samaniego said individuals out past curfew will be stopped and questioned, with any repeat offenders being issued fines.
All parks and recreational facilities for have been also closed throughout the city of El Paso and El Paso county for 14 days.
The judge added that the next two weeks will be crucial in determining how locals will ‘celebrate Thanksgiving’.
Over the last three weeks, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the El Paso area has tripled to a record 786, according to state data.
El Paso health officials announced 517 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the county’s total up to more than 39,920.
‘If we continue on this trend, we risk detrimental effects to our entire healthcare system,’ the city’s public health director, Angela Mora, said in a statement. ‘For the sake of those hospitalized and the frontline healthcare workers working tirelessly each day to care for them, we ask you to please stay home for two weeks and eliminate your interactions with those outside your household until we can flatten the curve.’
On Saturday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked the federal government to allow the use of an army medical center at Fort Bliss by non-coronavirus patients to ease the burden on hospitals.
On Sunday, Abbott said state emergency management officials will open an alternate care site this week, initially with 50 beds, at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center.
The U.S has seen spikes in coronavirus cases in recent days, with 83,718 new cases reported Saturday, as well as 914 deaths.
Hospitalizations are also rising and have hit a two-month high and deaths are trending upwards, according to a Reuters tally.
So far in October, 29 states have set records for increases in new cases, including five considered key in the November 3 presidential election: Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Cases in the Midwest set a new record on Saturday and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in that region hit an all-time high for the ninth day in a row.
Hospitals are strained in several states including North Dakota, which is the hardest hit based on recent new cases per capita, according to a Reuters analysis.