El Paso, Texas, is turning its convention center into a hospital and is urging residents to stay home for two weeks after the city saw a 300 percent increase in hospitalizations in less than a month, officials said Sunday.
The increase in hospitalizations has taken place many in the United States have seen an increase in coronavirus spread, including its neighbor Texas, New Mexico, where 4,252 new cases were reported last week, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
In El Paso, a border town of more than 680,000, the number of hospitals registered in the past three weeks has risen from 259 to 786, according to the city’s public health director, Angela Mora.
In a statement, Mora warned that local health services and hospitals would remain tense for people suffering from coronary emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes and car accidents.
“If we continue this trend, we run the risk of having a detrimental effect on the entire healthcare system,” Mora said. “For the sake of those who are hospitalized and the first healthcare workers who work tirelessly every day to care for them, please stay home for two weeks and eliminate your interactions with those outside your household until we can flatten the curve. “
People who do not follow new local health orders requiring masks and social distances will face fines, the public health department said in a press release.
In a separate statement, the office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the El Paso convention center would open this week as a hospital with a capacity of up to 100 beds. Government officials have also deployed ancillary medical units at local hospitals that can provide an additional 100 beds each, the statement said.
The governor’s office added that 900 medics had already been sent to the city.
More than 500 new coronavirus cases were reported in El Paso on Sunday, though that number is expected to rise as health ministry officials continue to confirm the dramatic increase in the spread of the virus, the city’s public health department said.
More than 170 patients remain in intensive care in El Paso, according to county health records. Three new deaths were added on Sunday for a total of 575 since March.