KEY POINTS

  • El Paso hospitals reached full capacity over the weekend fighting a resurgent COVID-19
  • The governor announced new mobile hospitals moving into the county to relieve pressure
  • A curfew has been established, and officials are asking all residents to isolate themselves in the coming two weeks

The COVID-19 pandemic in El Paso County, Texas, has reached “crisis” levels, with intensive care units and emergency rooms running at 100% capacity. County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told reporters Sunday that hospitals are “stretched to capacity.”

“As of Oct. 24, 2020, all area hospitals have reached capacity, all intensive care units at El Paso hospitals are at 100% capacity... We are at a crisis stage,” he said.

A medical worker rests in front of a fan in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas A medical worker rests in front of a fan in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas Photo: GETTY IMAGES / Go Nakamura

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the same day that the state would be working to bring in additional personnel and beds. The El Paso Convention Center will be converted into an auxiliary facility with 100 beds, working alongside mobile hospitals with 100-bed capacity to relieve pressure from the county’s swamped medical centers. 

El Paso’s office of emergency management, however, gave mixed messages. Deputy Chief Jorge Rodriguez told KFOX14 that hospitals still had room.

“It’s not a question of whether or not we’re out, we’re expanding that hospital capacity within the hospital walls, and those resources are coming in with additional staffing,” he said.

That message was contradicted just hours afterward by a statement from El Paso County’s chief executive saying that hospitals were totally full. It’s unclear exactly which is correct, but it’s likely highly variable --hospital beds open up constantly by death or discharge and are filled constantly by new patients.

The auxiliary hospitals are planned to start accepting patients this week, and a curfew has been announced. In social media posts, El Paso residents expressed dismay and fear.