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El Paso issues stay at home order, nightly curfew to curb spread of COVID-19

El Paso issues stay at home order, nightly curfew to curb spread of COVID-19
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El Paso County, Texas, has imposed a two-week stay-at-home order with a daily curfew in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued the order Sunday night, requiring all residents to stay home unless conducting essential business. He also imposed a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Violations could result in a $500 fine.

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Samaniego recommended that nonessential businesses close if they can't offer curbside, drive-thru or takeout services, but did not require it.

Outdoor activities are exempt from the order, as is "essential business" such as voting, campaigning, religious activities and grocery shopping. 

According to the order, voluntary compliance with previous public health orders has not deterred or slowed the rate of infection of COVID-19 cases.

Cases have spiked in the region, with a 160 percent increase in the positivity rate in just the past three weeks. 

As of Saturday, El Paso County had 104.3 cases per 100,000 residents, which is the highest number of new cases per capita in the state. 

On Monday, officials there announced a record 1,443 new COVID-19 cases, as well as a record 853 hospitalized patients, up from 786 on Sunday.

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"Our hospitals are now at a point where they are overwhelmed and exhausted," Samaniego said on Twitter when announcing the new order.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday announced the El Paso Civic Center this week will be converted to an "alternate care site" to expand hospital capacity in the region. 

It will have a capacity of 50 beds and can expand to 100 beds if needed. 

Abbott also said the Trump administration is deploying two 35-member disaster medical assistance teams and a trauma critical care team to El Paso. The teams will arrive this week.