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Texas hospitals participate in statewide effort to take on coronavirus patients from El Paso

Coordinated through Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, the plan is to transport about 15-20 patients per day from El Paso to other hospitals in the state.

TEXAS, USA — A statewide effort is underway in Texas to take on coronavirus patients from El Paso, where surging cases and hospitalizations have strained hospital capacity.

Coordinated through Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, the plan is to transport about 15-20 patients per day from El Paso to other hospitals in the state according to Elizabeth Allen, the public relations manager for University Health System in San Antonio.

On Sunday, El Paso reported a record-high 1,559 new cases of COVID-19. 853 people are in the hospital, every intensive care unit is full, and the testing positivity rate is approaching 15%. Officials in El Paso have enacted a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and urged citizens to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary.

"Currently our hospitals are stretched to capacity," said El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered that part of a convention center in El Paso will be turned into a makeshift hospital capable of fitting up to 100 beds. He also requested that Fort Bliss Army hospital be used to treat non-COVID patients. The Texas Department of Health Services surged medical supplies and personnel to El Paso.

The spread in El Paso is part of a troubling trend in Texas and the United States as a whole. As of Monday, the number of coronavirus patients in Texas hospitals is up to 5,278, which is nearly a 40% increase since the beginning of October and an 18% increase since last week.

"The transfers are coordinated through the Texas EMTF State Coordination Center with the hospital placement centers and the regional advisory councils, like our local STRAC," Allen said. "The transfers are being spread across Texas and San Antonio has received only 1 transfer that came in last night, so that has not yet affected hospitalizations in the city."

There are 248 coronavirus patients in Bexar County hospitals as of Monday night, part of a slight upward trend, but down from a peak of over 1,200 in July. Mayor Ron Nirenberg said that they expect about 10 patients from El Paso for the time being.

Credit: KENS

"San Antonio’s hospitalization rate remains much lower than its summer peak but the numbers are starting to go back up, so continued vigilant observation of wearing masks, physical distancing and really good hand hygiene will help us manage those numbers as a community."