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Pediatric beds at full capacity in El Paso as respiratory illness spikes

EL PASO, Texas -- The city's health authority, Dr. Hector Ocaranza, said that all of the staffed pediatric hospital beds in El Paso are at full capacity as respiratory illness spikes during the winter and holiday season.

Dr. Ocaranza gave the update during a city council agenda review. He updated council members on Covid-19, Influenza, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is mostly affecting children under the age of four in El Paso. In fact, Dr. Ocaranza said a large percentage of outpatient visits to physicians are due to respiratory illnesses.

Pediatric beds are at full capacity in El Paso, Dr. Ocaranza said, and it is not something unique to the Borderland. Pediatric hospitals are 98.9 percent full in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, according to a report from WFAA.

Dr. Ocaranza said there is no specific vaccine, antiviral, or antibiotic for this RSV available just yet. It is not clear when there will be one available.

City data shows RSV-related hospitalizations are much higher than the past four years at this same time.

In 2021, there were about 9 RSV-related hospitalizations per 100,000 people, but this year, there are about 25 RSV-related hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to city data.

Data shared by the hospital shows that between October and December of 2021 there were 276 RSV cases, but in that same time frame this year there have been 1,008 RSV cases.

Dr. Ocaranza is advising parents to not let their kids go to school or daycare if they are sick.

Covid-19 Update

The city update shows there are more than 100 patients hospitalized because of Covid-19.

The virus has been spreading recently. The number of cases per 100,000 people have increased four-fold, city data shows.

Dr. Ocaranza said they were expecting this increase by late fall and early winter.

The children's hospital is holding a Covid-19 vaccine booster clinic on Dec. 17 and 18 at their location. The boosters are for children between 5 and 11-years-old and will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Your child must have already gotten their first series of vaccines to qualify for the booster. No appointment is needed.

Influenza

Dr. Ocaranza said the Influenza virus has proven to be severe in El Paso, mostly affecting the pediatric population.

City data shows the number of influenza cases is on pace to exceed the peak El Paso saw in 2020 just before the pandemic, when there were more than 8,000 cases in January.

Dr. Ocaranza said the flu vaccine this year is proving to be effective against this strain, and is recommending everyone get it.

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Dylan McKim

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