Nov 7, 2020 - Health

Defense Department sends medical teams to El Paso as COVID-19 cases surge

An attendant talks to a person waiting in their car at a coronavirus testing site at Ascarate Park
An attendant talks to a person waiting in their car at a coronavirus testing site at Ascarate Park in El Paso. Photo:Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

The Department of Defense has deployed three U.S Air force Medical Specialty Teams to El Paso to help officials cope with a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday.

Why it matters: El Paso currently has 23,702 active COVID-19 cases, including 1,300 new cases reported on Friday, per the city's health department. At least 1,049 coronavirus patients have been hospitalized, including 311 who are in the ICU.

  • In the coming days, Texas is poised to hit the 1-million-case milestone since the start of the pandemic, with more than 942,500 confirmed as of Friday evening. El Paso has confirmed 59,852 total cases, with 657 deaths.
  • To help officials respond to the virus, El Paso's county judge issued a stay-at-home order on Oct. 29. The order includes a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for all residents, except for those commuting to and from work or getting essential services, including groceries and health care. The order was expected to last for at least two weeks.
  • The state has also opened an alternative care site at the El Paso convention center, which can accommodate up to 100 beds.

Details: The DoD teams consists of 20 military medical providers each, according Abbott's office.

  • They will support three hospitals in El Paso, including the University Medical Center of El Paso, the Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus and the Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center.

What he's saying: "Our ongoing partnership with the federal government is crucial to our efforts in reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations in El Paso," Abbott said in a statement Friday.

Go deeper: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals

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