EL PASO, Texas — As of Monday, El Paso has hit nearly 27,000 COVID cases and 673 people have died. The El Paso County Judge has ordered residents stay home except for essential travel and imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The order expires November 11.
“Hospitalizations continue to rise sharply and unfortunately more people we know will continue to succumb to the complications of this disease,” said City-County Local Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza in a press release.
Shae Acosta, a 60-year-old Zumba instructor in El Paso, is trying hard to stay out of the hospital.
“I don't know if I'm afraid for myself or if I'm afraid there won't be room for someone else,” she said. “It's a very ugly thing. It's a very ugly disease."
Acosta was diagnosed with COVID-19 in October. Acosta says she has several pre-existing medical conditions, which made her super careful once the pandemic started. She said she only went to the grocery store. Acosta said one day, it started with a headache and then a sore throat.
“The next morning, I could barely move,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I contracted this virus. I can't believe this.’ You know?”
On Wednesday, according to the City/County of El Paso COVID-19 dashboard, El Paso had 21,902 active cases, 617 people have died, 1,041 are hospitalized and 311 are in ICU.
Editors note: the numbers change constantly. If you click on the dashboard now, they are likely to change.
“This is the most stressed I have felt in my 20 plus career of working,” said Dr. Max Peralta, a family physician in El Paso. “It is a nightmare. I mean, because right now we're just trying to keep people out of hospitals as much as possible. The hospitals are full.”
About three weeks ago, Peralta was diagnosed with COVID-19. He is still recovering but hasn’t stopped working, using telehealth to treat his patients.
“It's ironic, as we always tell our patients, ‘You need to stay home, drink on fluids, get a lot of rest.’ But right now, if I didn't work, it would just be having to shift all that patient care responsibility to a colleague. And everybody here right now is actually pretty overwhelmed,” Peralta said. “So, I didn't want to have to do that since telehealth is available to patients right now.”
As we talked, Peralta’s phone went off with an emergency alert.
“It says, ‘COVID spread high, stay home except for essential services, protect yourself and loved ones,” Peralta read. “So, again, these are those are the messages we're getting right now.”
Messages the health officials are hoping will be heard, empowering El Pasoans to make the right call for their families and the community.
“It's been very surreal,” Peralta said. “I never thought in my lifetime I'd actually have to deal with something like this.”
On October 29th, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego ordered all non-essential businesses shut down to slow the coronvairus spread. Attorney General Ken Paxton said the move violated an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott and filed a temporary injunction to stop the lock down. Friday, a Texas District Judge upheld El Paso County's leadership decision.