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Covid-19 infections on rise in El Paso, match year-long highs

EL PASO, Texas -- Roughly 600 additional Covid-19 cases reported on Wednesday represented the highest number of cases reported in one day since January. Then, Thursday's caseload brought an additional 510 cases, ballooning the total number of active cases to 5,355.

El Paso has not had 5,000 or more active cases since March of this year, but ABC-7 medical contributor and infectious disease expert Dr. Ogechika Alozie said Friday that this week's rising numbers do not surprise him.

"Even if you consider we are at 90% (vaccination rate), that's almost 100,000 people that are still unvaccinated. That is a lot of people that can get sick. SARS COVID 2 is going to do what it does, it is going to find people - it is going to continue to spread and it does not matter how many people you get vaccinated in your community, it's the percentage that is not vaccinated," Alozie explained to ABC-7.

Alozie has been vocal about the recent rise in cases, saying his first hand experience with patients in the intensive care unit has been heartbreaking.

"It is truly sad seeing the look on patients faces that have refused the vaccine, but now want any other treatment to help them as they get increasingly short of breath. It's so avoidable," Alozie said.

The rise in cases is not exclusive to El Paso County as national averages are also increasing, but what has many parents concerned is the number of pediatric cases. The El Paso Independent School District has reported 525 cases, of those 243 involve elementary -aged children. The county's positivity rate is now 14% - a number that the City/County Health Authority had wanted to avoid when it came to having children in the classroom.

"The kids on average that are going to school have the ability to protect themselves. The vaccine is approved. We have the highest rate of pediatric Covid vaccines in the state, it is twice the state average. So, I truly do believe that kids can go to school, they can mitigate, they can mask and primarily - they can be vaccinated," Alozie said.

The CDC and FDA on Friday authorized the Covid-19 vaccine booster shot for all adults, and Alozie believes there are certain groups that could benefit most from it. Among those are the elderly, and those with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

"I think what is immensely important is that we have to remember the people who got the Johnson and Johnson (shot), I consider them unvaccinated as of this point in time. They need to go and get that second shot be it Moderna or Pfizer - and those that are older or sicker, I think it is time for them to go get that booster," Alozie indicated.

While Covid-19 cases continue to increase, Alozie thinks celebrating the holiday's safely is still a realistic possibility.

"At this point in time everybody has to take their own responsibility in their own hands. Get vaccinated, wear a mask and engage in your life, and I think that has to be the real tenant. We have the tools to beat this, people just need to be smart about this," Alozie emphasized.

For the latest on El Paso County's Covid-19 data, follow this link.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.

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