Texas County Judge Issues County-Wide Curfew As COVID-19 Cases Soar

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Adam Barnes General Assignment Reporter
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A Texas county judge issued a 2-week curfew Sunday for all residents as COVID-19 cases have surged and strained hospital capacity, CNN reported.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued the 10pm to 5am curfew due to a 160% increase in case positivity rate since October 1 and a 300% increase in hospitalizations, according to the report.

“The purpose of the curfew is to limit mobility in the community,” Samaniego said. “Currently our hospitals are stretched to capacity.”

The county reported 517 new cases Sunday, which put the total at over 40,000 confirmed cases, according to County of El Paso websites. There have been 576 reported deaths in the county.

Samaniego said the order aims to limit the economic impact by allowing businesses to remain open, per the report. But residents could receive a $250 fine for not wearing a mask and curfew violators could pay $500.

“The curfew is enough to limit the economic consequences on local businesses by allowing the stores to stay open. We carefully thought about the economic impact if we were to impose a full stay at home order like we did at the beginning of this process,” Samaniego said. (RELATED: Chicago Mayor Imposes 10PM Curfew On Non-Essential Businesses)

“We know the impact it would have for you not to be able to go to work. So we’re going to do everything possible to continue moving towards the balancing of the economy and making sure that we adhere to public health and everything that is required for us to continue our battle against this very insidious virus,” he said.

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbot’s office said in a statement, per CNN, that the United States Department of Health and Human Services is sending two teams, totaling 70 staff, to provide medical and disaster assistance.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told CNN that they have not isolated a specific incident causing the increasing number of cases but said a contributing factor could be that the community has relaxed.

“We did an analysis for two weeks on 2,404 cases from October 6 through October 20 and what we found is that 37% of our positives were from visiting large big-box stores, 22.5% were restaurants, and 19% were travel to Mexico,” Margo said, per CNN.

“Our message is don’t let down your guard. Wear your face coverings. Maintain your distancing. Avoid large gatherings. Avoid the family gatherings,” Margo said.

Samaniego said area hospitals and Intensive Care Units reached 100% capacity as of Saturday night, CNN reported. There are currently 180 people in ICUs, according to the County of El Paso Covid-19 website.

There have been 17,955 deaths due to COVID-19 in Texas, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.