El Paso County in Texas has ordered a curfew between 10pm and 5am as the number of cases COVID-19 skyrocket and all hospitals reach 100 percent capacity.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced the drastic move Sunday afternoon, but made clear the curfew does not apply to essential workers, KFOX14's Keenan Willard reports. Hospitals and ICUs are now full.
The fine for breaking the curfew is $500 and anyone caught not wearing a face mask will face a $250 penalty.
The city of El Paso in Texas is asking residents to stay home for the next two weeks and the wider El Paso County closed its parks and recreational facilities for 14 days.
Nurses gather information from patients lining up in their cars for Covid-19 tests at the University of Texas El Paso on October 23
Over the last three weeks, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the El Paso area has tripled to a record 786, according to state data.
'If we continue on this trend, we risk detrimental effects to our entire healthcare system,' the city's public health director, Angela Mora, said in a statement. 'For the sake of those hospitalized and the frontline healthcare workers working tirelessly each day to care for them, we ask you to please stay home for two weeks and eliminate your interactions with those outside your household until we can flatten the curve.'
On Saturday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked the federal government to allow the use of an army medical center at Fort Bliss by non-coronavirus patients to ease the burden on hospitals.
On Sunday, Abbott said state emergency management officials will open an alternate care site this week, initially with 50 beds, at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center.
The U.S has seen spikes in coronavirus cases in recent days, with 83,718 new cases reported Saturday, as well as 914 deaths.
Hospitalizations are also rising and have hit a two-month high and deaths are trending upwards, according to a Reuters tally.
So far in October, 29 states have set records for increases in new cases, including five considered key in the November 3 presidential election: Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Cases in the Midwest set a new record on Saturday and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in that region hit an all-time high for the ninth day in a row.
Hospitals are strained in several states including North Dakota, which is the hardest hit based on recent new cases per capita, according to a Reuters analysis.