Breaking News
More () »

Dallas's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Dallas, Texas | WFAA.com

'This is a crisis situation': State officials are tracking hospital beds as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

"This is a crisis situation," El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said. "It's serious. And the people of El Paso need to understand that."

DALLAS — El Paso is one of the most active COVID-19 hotspots in the United States and the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports it is concerned about rising numbers in the Lone Star State. 

“This is a crisis situation," said El Paso Mayor Donald "Dee" Margo. In the last month, the 7-day average of new cases has increased by 515%. 

The percentage of COVID patients in El Paso-area hospital beds is another worrying statistic. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services tracks the percentage of COVID patients by hospital region. According to Governor Abbott's order, if COVID patients account for 15% or more of those available hospital beds that region must revert to its most recent previous COVID restrictions: like shuttering bars and further limiting restaurant capacities.

COVID patients, as of Wednesday, are filling approximately 42.7% of available hospital beds in El Paso. 

"It’s not good. It’s serious," Margo said. "And the people of El Paso need to understand that.” 

Mobile medical units with additional hospital bed space were erected this week in the parking lot of University Medical Center El Paso. 

Credit: Texas Division of Emergency Management

Amarillo and Lubbock are well above the 15% threshold too. That means bars will stay closed and restaurants will limited.  

"And those mechanisms are already in place. And because of that, there is no need for additional measures at the state level," said Gov. Abbott during a  Wednesday news conference in Houston.  

But in North Texas, where the percentage of COVID patients in available hospital beds is averaging around 10%, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted his concerns: 

"The most recent medical models indicate that we'll have above 1,000 new cases per day by Thanksgiving unless we change our behavior, push through the COVID fatigue, and go back to doing the things that we know will keep us safe."

Credit: Twitter

RELATED: COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise in 4 major North Texas counties

ABC News obtained the most recent White House Coronavirus Task Force weekly briefing, which is distributed to governors. Regarding Texas, the Task Force says the positivity rate in the Lone Star state ranks us 16th in the country, that "we are concerned about the rising cases, test positivity, and new hospital admissions across multiple counties." 

The briefing states, "Rapid and aggressive response is needed, including the expansion of testing in under 35-year-olds to isolate the early silent spreaders. Would consider requiring testing of community college students, K-12 teachers, and county employees to be able to geographically define the silent spread and address those areas with expansive testing to isolate the asymptomatic cases, as well as the symptomatic cases."

The weekly report also states that  El Paso, Tarrant and Harris counties have had the highest number of new cases over the last three weeks. 

Concerns about an increase in COVID-19 cases are not just a Texas concern. 

"We are facing an urgent crisis and there is an imminent risk to you," said Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers in address to his constituents.

"We're not seeing a change in the amount of masks people are wearing or limitations of large public gatherings," added Dr. Edward Stenehjem, an infectious disease expert in Salt Lake City, where cases are also on the rise.

The COVID Tracking project reports that deaths from COVID-19 are increasing in 29 states and the number of new cases is increasing in 45 states. 

"This is a disaster," Dr. Juan Taveras in El Paso said. "People are going to start dying, as a matter of fact they started dying already. Not just because they have COVID, but because the COVID has impaired the ability to deliver care."