El Paso’s COVID-19 crisis reached alarming levels in the past week, shattering the record for new cases and reporting 200 COVID-19 patients in hospitals for the first time. The number of COVID-19 infections reported in El Paso has grown by 60 percent in two weeks.

Before this past week, El Paso had recorded more than 200 new cases in a day only once (on June 26); we had more than 200 new cases four times in the past week, including a record 288 on Saturday.

Health officials on Saturday said the surge in new cases appears to be primarily driven by community spread, as opposed to clusters in places like nursing homes and detention facilities.

Half of all new cases continue to be people in their 20s and 30s, who comprise 30 percent of El Paso’s population. 

New cases

Before the end of June, El Paso County’s high number for new cases in a single week was 594. The 1,623 reported this week is 173 percent above that prior peak

Half of the week’s new cases were among people in their 20s and 30s. Before the recent explosion in new cases, that age group had accounted for 38 percent of all COVID-19 cases in El Paso.

The number of people in their 20s infected with COVID-19 has jumped by 83 percent in two weeks; infections in people in their 30s have grown by 70 percent.

Although young adults have borne the brunt of the latest surge, virtually all age groups have been affected.

The number of COVID-19 cases among people in their 60s has grown by 42 percent in two weeks. The growth rate is 40 percent for people in their 70s, 54 percent for people in their 80s and 57 percent for people in their 90s.

El Paso reported 2,613 new cases in the past two weeks, one less than the number of new cases recorded in the five prior weeks combined. About two in every five COVID-19 cases reported in El Paso have occurred in the past two weeks.

Cases requiring hospitalization 

El Paso County reported 200 people requiring hospitalization for COVID-19 on Saturday. That is 68 percent higher than the hospitalizations reported in the prior peak in late May.

COVID-19 cases requiring treatment in intensive care units also are growing, but not at the pace of hospitalizations. However, ICU cases could sharply increase in coming days as people with infections grow more ill.

New reported deaths

The number of new COVID-19 deaths reported was in the single digits for the second consecutive week, something that hasn’t happened since April. 

As with ICU cases, the number of deaths may surge in the near future because of the large numbers of new cases in the past two weeks.

Where cases are concentrated

COVID-19 cases are not distributed evenly in El Paso and Dona Ana counties. The ZIP code with the highest infection rate, 88024 in Berino, N.M., is 14 times higher than the ZIP code with the lowest infection rate, 88007 north of Las Cruces.

Some El Paso ZIP codes have high infection rates in part because of cases reported in detention facilities and nursing homes. ZIP codes most affected by this are 79901, 79902, 79925 and 79938. New Mexico has stopped including a huge outbreak at a private prison facility in Chaparral in county and ZIP code data. Those numbers are accounted for separately.

Hover your cursor over a ZIP code for more detail. 

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.