The good news is that El Paso’s COVID-19 crisis appears to have plateaued. The bad news is it appears the plateau is at pretty high elevation.

El Paso reported 1,439 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, the third consecutive weekly decline. But it’s also the fifth consecutive week of more than 1,000 cases. The number of new cases this week is 2½ times the previous peak in early June.

Here’s your weekly COVID-19 data report for El Paso.

New cases

Newly reported cases in El Paso are down about 30 percent from the peak seen July 5-11. However, since the explosion of new cases began June 21-27, El Paso has averaged almost 1,700 new cases a week over the past six weeks. In the six weeks before that, we averaged about 500 cases per week.

Some of that can be attributed to expanded testing, but the number of tests coming back positive have been significantly higher in the past six weeks than in April, May and early June, indicating a deeper spread of COVID-19 in the community.

El Paso reported 8,348 new COVID-19 cases in July, a 40 percent increase above the total numbers in the first 3½ months of the pandemic. 

Although the numbers of new cases were more heavily centered in young adults in late June and mid-July, new cases have reverted in the past couple weeks to the age distribution we had seen in the spring. About 53 percent of infections have been in people under 40.

COVID-19 deaths

El Paso hit another weekly high for announced COVID-19 deaths with 48, bringing the total to 269. About two in every five announced deaths have come in the past three weeks.

It often takes public health officials several weeks to confirm a death as COVID-19 related, so some — perhaps many — of the deaths announced in the past three weeks occurred in May or June.

Hospitalization and ICU numbers

The number of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization or intensive care unit treatment declined steadily over the past week and are well below peak numbers seen the prior week. However, hospitalization and ICU numbers remain well above what we’d seen prior to July.

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