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Commentary Coronavirus Featured Health

El Paso about to hit more COVID-19 vaccine milestones

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El Paso continues to lead Texas urban counties in getting its population vaccinated against COVID-19 and we’ll cross a couple key milestones in coming days.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the past week fell below 3,000, the first time that’s happened in 2021. However, El Paso continues to average one death from COVID-19 every three hours.

Here’s our weekly COVID-19 data report.

Vaccines

As of Saturday, more than 89,000 El Pasoans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and more than 31,000 have received both doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. That means 14% of our population 16 and older has received at least one dose, and almost 5% are considered fully vaccinated. 

Those are the highest rates among Texas’ 10 most populous counties.

In the coming days, El Paso will be the first large Texas county to have 5% of its population 16 and older fully vaccinated, and the first to have 15% with at least one dose.

We still don’t know whether the vaccines are getting to those who need them most. The two big vaccine providers in El Paso, the city government and University Medical Center, have provided no demographic data on who is receiving the vaccine.

The state this week told operators of major vaccine hubs, including the city and UMC, to reserve 20% of vaccine doses for people 75 and older.

UMC will have a registration time exclusively for people 75 and older at 9 a.m. Tuesday. People can register online or via phone. UMC says 1,000 vaccines have been reserved for this group.

New cases

El Paso County saw a dip in new reported COVID-19 cases. We haven’t been below 3,000 new cases since the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s.

Even with the slight decrease, the spread of COVID-19 in El Paso is still very high.

From the start of the pandemic in March through the end of September, El Paso had more than 2,500 new cases in a week only once. Since then, our number of new weekly cases has been less than 2,500 only twice.

Deaths

El Paso’s COVID-19 death toll is closing in on 2,300. That means that about one of every 270 El Pasoans over the age of 20 who were alive before the pandemic began in March 2020 have been killed by the virus.

We have not had fewer than 40 weekly deaths since mid-October.

So far this year, El Paso is averaging 7.7 COVID-19 deaths per day. That means that an El Pasoan is dying every three hours from the virus so far in 2021.

Hospitals

The number of people requiring hospital care for COVID-19 appears to be coming down. But the number of people so sick that they require treatment in intensive care units remains high, reflecting the challenges of those who fall most ill.

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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