EL PASO, Texas -- City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza late Monday said the "uncontrollable" spread of Covid-19 in El Paso has led to a skyrocketing 33% hospitalization rate.
That means one out of every three people in El Paso hospitals currently is being treated for virus-related illness.
Calling the situation "dire" as he briefed County Commissioners, Ocaranza warned El Pasoans to be "extremely careful" as the virus is spreading like wildfire with 8,350 active infections currently - which is an all-time high during the pandemic.
With El Paso hospitals on the verge of reaching capacity, healthcare officials said they are ready to put contingency plans into place.
"We are creating more capacity even as we speak so that we have adequate resources to take care of our patients," said Dr. Joel Hendryx, the chief medical officer for the University Medical Center of El Paso - which was treating 129 virus patients on Monday.
He indicated UMC has been working with El Paso Emergency Management officials and the other hospitals in the metro to address capacity issues.
"As we move through this pandemic, we have identified other areas in which we can take care of our other patients and each hospital has extra capacity which they are mobilizing," said Hendryx
UMC, for example, he said has an off-site medical facility on El Paso's westside which can hold 13 non-Covid hospital patients if needed.
Las Palmas Del Sol Health Care officials would not specify how many Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized at their two medical centers.
But officials said both hospitals have 'surge plans' in place which can expand capacity by converting current rooms and beds to ICU and/or negative air flow rooms.
The Hospitals of Providence also would not specify how many Covid-19 patients they were currently treating.
As for its contingency plans, officials acknowledged in a statement that "this is a challenging time." But they added, "our network of hospitals continues to have capacity and create capacity to care for the influx of patients."