- Texas is one of many US states seeing a spike in coronavirus cases, and as hospitals hit capacity, the city of El Paso has issued a new stay-at-home order.
- Local hospitals in El Paso are resorting to airlifting patients to other Texas healthcare facilities.
- El Paso will have a daily curfew of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for at least the next two weeks as they attempt to get the spike in COVID-19 cases under control.
Proof that the spread of the novel coronavirus is once again completely out of control in the US continues to pile up, as an El Paso county judge has ordered a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. According to KVIA, the curfew – which took effect on Sunday – applies to both the county and the city, and will last for at least two weeks.
Judge Ricardo Samaniego said that the El Paso sheriff, police chief, and constables have all been directed to enforce the new orders, and suggested that Texas Governor Greg Abbott supports the decision. Any essential workers will be excluded from the stay-at-home orders, but businesses that are not essential and are found to be breaking the rules could be shut down by the authorities. School districts have also been told to postpone sports.
In another report, The Texas Tribune shared data from the Texas Department of State Health Services which shows that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have risen from 259 to 786 in less than three weeks. With cases surging in the region, KVIA reported that several local hospitals were planning to airlift patients to facilities around the state, as they simply didn’t have enough room for more patients if the spike were to continue.
“Enforcement at this time is going to be very necessary,” Judge Samaniego said of the El Paso stay-at-home decree and the other policies meant to protect citizens. “It’s something that we’re hesitant about because of our tremendous respect for law enforcement, tremendous respect for our community, but we find ourselves at this time to be in a situation where this has to take precedence over a lot of things that have taken place.”
This new wave of COVID-19 cases comes just days before the US election, and despite the danger, Texas residents have turned out in record numbers to vote early. According to the US Elections Project, the state has already tallied more than 80% of the total ballots that were cast in 2016 with eight days to go until Election Day. Some areas have already surpassed their vote total from 2016. Even with the curfew in place, Samaniego urged El Paso residents to vote, and stressed that the county has done everything it could to make voting safe.
“It’s important for the public to understand that voting is safe and our county elective department has taken steps to ensure the safety and health of El Paso voters,” Samaniego explained during a virtual news conference on Sunday evening. “Please continue to exercise your right to vote.”