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Official: El Paso hospitals near 'breaking point' from virus

Inside look of University Medical Hospital ICU unit (credit: UMC)Thumbnail
Inside look of University Medical Hospital ICU unit (credit: UMC)Thumbnail
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A health official in El Paso says hospitals are near a "breaking point” as 3,100 new cases of the coronavirus were reported there Wednesday.

Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso’s city and county health authority, says, “we need everyone to do their part to stop this virus.”

Local health officials said there were 1,041 area hospitalizations Wednesday. El Paso County now has more hospitalizations than 35 states.

"This is the highest we’ve ever been. And the unfortunate thing is, there’s no clear end in sight," said Dr. Ogechika Alozie, Chief Medical Officer of Del Sol Medical Center. "It’s just important for this community to understand that what we’re doing is failing."

Hundreds of nurses and medical beds from the state have been sent to El Paso and the convention center has turned into a field hospital.

"The hospitals are thankful for all of those resources, but it can’t stretch forever. I think that’s really one thing that people need to understand." said Alozie.

Johns Hopkins University’s data shows that Texas recently surpassed California in recording the highest number of positive tests for the virus.

The latest numbers show 950,345 reported Texas cases.

Last week medical tents for COVID-19 patients were set up at University Medical Center.

UMC officials released video of inside the hospital on Tuesday.

In the videos, medical personnel are seen wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves, face masks, gowns.

Medical staff is seen in the video walking in the hallways of the hospital.

“To the people that say I’m young, and I don’t care if I get COVID. Guess what? Your mom and dad might not be as lucky. Your aunt or uncle, grandmother and grandfather might not be as lucky,” said Alozie.

With holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, those working inside El Paso’s hospitals say there’s potential for this winter to be one of the darkest in the city’s history.

But there’s also a chance to set things in the right direction again.

It’s up to El Pasoans to decide.

“2020 is not the year to have a big Christmas. Let’s ramp this down, get this under control, and go into 2021 really saying hey we beat this. And hopefully start to get our lives better,” said Alozie.

KFOX14 reached out to the department of public health to ask if Halloween gatherings played a role in Wednesday's record number of cases. They didn’t respond in time for this story.

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