EL PASO, Texas -- City Manager Tommy Gonzalez says Covid-19 cases in El Paso are on the decline.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Gonzalez briefed city representatives saying new Covid-19 cases fell by over 35% since the end of August.
This is welcoming news as health officials said cases started to trend upward in July—prompting City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza to issue an indoor mask mandate for El Paso.
Hospitalizations also slowed down, according to Gonzalez- who said there are currently between 117 to 127 people hospitalized with the deadly virus.
“We continue to watch the hospital capacity, noting that Covid-19 patients comprise of just over 6% of the total trauma service area,” said Gonzalez. “With respect to the characteristics of those hospitalized, only about 10% of the new cases require hospitalization, and of those, 10 to 15% are breakthrough cases.”
Gonzalez said the majority of hospitalizations are adults over the age of 45, noting the age group also makes up the largest share of breakthrough hospitalizations in El Paso. Breakthrough cases involve Covid infections found in persons who have been fully vaccinated.
Cases amongst school-aged children also dropped in the past two weeks by over 40%, according to Gonzalez. He said the vaccination rate continues to increase in the age group 12 to 15 –noting 69% in that age group are fully vaccinated, while 91% are partially vaccinated.
In El Paso, Gonzalez said 74% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated, and 87% have received just one-dose.
“We’re 1% away from herd immunity; I’m thinking that number is probably going to change from the CDC," said Gonzalez. "I know there’s a push to have even more people vaccinated so just be ready for that in terms of that change that might be coming down. We’ve stayed ahead of all these different factors by really being aggressive. I think the indoor mask mandate has been helpful in terms of slowing down the spread here locally for us.”
Experts say herd immunity occurs when a large enough portion of the community becomes vaccinated, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely.