Facing a record-breaking surge of COVID-19 cases, the U.S. border city of El Paso in Texas is now under a nighttime curfew, with parks and recreational facilities closed for 14 days.
A county judge ordered late Sunday a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew due to the COVID crisis. The curfew order went into effect immediately, but it does not apply to essential workers or people traveling.
“We are in a crisis,” Judge Ricardo Samaniego told Reuters on Monday.
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. By Monday morning, that number rose even higher, setting a new record at 853, El Paso Times newspaper reported, citing city-county health data.
Dr. Ogechicka Alozie, chief medical officer at Del Sol Medical Center, said doctors in the emergency room, intensive care unit and all across the hospital are noticing the uptick.
“The narrative historically has been the above-65, those with multiple co-morbidities. But we’re seeing 20-year-olds. We’re seeing 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds,” Dr. Alozie told Reuters.
The situation is similar across the border in Juarez, Mexico. With a similar surge in cases, Juarez has also implemented a nighttime curfew and has even banned weekend alcohol sales, according to El Paso Times.
Juarez’s mayor, Armando Cabada, for a second time, is hospitalized with COVID-19.
Back in El Paso, Texas Governor Greg 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.
Resident Andrea Cortez, 23, who works at a nonprofit, is hoping she won’t get sick again. She was among 15 family members to get sick in a 4-week span from September into October. Her grandfather, Lazaro Renteria, 75, did not survive.
“That day that they took him to the hospital when he tested positive, I went to visit him just to see how he was doing, and I asked him how he was feeling. He struggled to get his words out just because he was having difficulty breathing but then he finally said “como campeon,” which is “like a champion.” So that just proves how he felt about the virus, how he felt about life really because he had told me that before, so it made things a little easier for me. Of course I wish it didn’t have to go that way. But unfortunately, that’s the way that it went. And I just hope that no one else has to go through that anymore, or less people have to go through that anymore and that this pain can stop for everyone as soon as possible,” Cortez said.
(Production: Nathan Frandino, Gerardo Najera)