EL PASO, Texas (NewsNation Now) — The two-week shutdown in El Paso, Texas was supposed to end Thursday but has now been extended through Thanksgiving in hopes to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
El Paso County has had more than 720 deaths and 67,484 cases as of Friday morning, according to John Hopkins University. City health data shows El Paso has 30,000 active cases. A mobile morgue site with 10 refrigerated units is being used to store the overflow of bodies.
“Hospitals and doctors aren’t getting death certificates signed quickly enough and so that’s why we’re seeing a slowdown and a backlog,” El Paso County Commissioner David Stout said.
Stout helps oversee the medical examiner’s office. He says what’s happening in El Paso is a tragedy, and that the cause of the hotbed is multi-factorial.
“It’s even more important to talk about the familial spread because we have so many families that live in multi-generational settings,” said Stout. “This is a largely Hispanic community.”
“I think the problem in El Paso is the youth culture, also it’s a college town,” said another local El Pasoan.
Amid the catastrophic rise in cases, local doctors are seeing an influx of new patients with severe mental health disorders. Psychologist Dr. Fabrizzio Delgado said he’s seen about a 50 percent increase in patients—a rise that coincided with COVID.
“Because you cannot see your friends, you cannot go visit your family,” said Delgado. “If you have COVID, now you’re afraid of going to the doctor.”
El Pasoan Bonnie Soria Najera has lost five members of her family to COVID-19 and urges others to follow health guidelines and remain vigilant.
“You don’t want to get to the point where it is as bad as here where we’re in a lockdown,” said Najera. “And you don’t want to lose a loved one, and you don’t want to get sick yourself and put your family through what we’ve been through.”
Just this week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott deployed an addition 460 medical personnel to El Paso to help fight the surge and treat patients.