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Commentary Coronavirus Featured

El Paso hits vaccination milestones, but infections remain stubbornly high

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More than half of eligible El Pasoans have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and a third are fully vaccinated.

Still, the number of new infections has been stuck at a high level for five weeks and the number of people hospitalized because of the coronavirus is creeping back up.

Here’s our weekly COVID-19 data report.

Vaccines

More than 352,000 El Pasoans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of Saturday. That’s 55% of our population age 16 and older who are eligible to be vaccinated.

Almost 220,000 El Pasoans are now fully vaccinated, 34.3% of the eligible population.

Although El Paso had the highest vaccination rate of Texas’ urban counties in the first three months of the year, Hidalgo and Fort Bend counties now have a higher rate among people 16 and older. Collin, Denton and Fort Bend counties are the leaders for fully vaccinating people 65 and older.

El Paso’s vaccination rate should climb higher this week, with the state sending the highest number of vaccine first doses to date.

None of the doses being shipped this week are the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Texas is following a recommendation by federal officials to suspend use of that vaccine while scientists investigate a small number of blood clots reported after people were vaccinated.

New cases

Over the past five weeks, more than 120,000 El Pasoans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine and almost 90,000 have become fully vaccinated. Even with that improvement, the number of new COVID-19 infections in that period has not come down. We’ve been stuck in a narrow range of 1,010 to 1,165 new cases each week. 

The New York Times COVID-19 tracker lists El Paso at “extremely high risk” of COVID-19 infections, its highest classification. 

Hospitals

The number of people with COVID-19 requiring hospital treatment rose in the past week. This isn’t surprising, because we saw two weeks of increasing infections.

The number of coronavirus cases requiring treatment in an intensive care unit has held relatively steady throughout April. 

Deaths

The number of people dying of COVID-19 in El Paso dropped back down this past week after a sudden spike the week prior.

In the next day or two, the city will announce that the COVID-19 death toll has reached 2,500. We actually passed that level weeks ago, but the city Department of Public Health has been slow to confirm deaths as COVID-19 related.

As of Saturday, the state reported 2,620 COVID-19 deaths in El Paso County. Hospitals and funeral homes report deaths to the state before they are reported to local governments.

The local Department of Public Health data counts El Paso County residents who died of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts the number of such deaths in El Paso County, regardless of residency. As of April 10, the CDC reported 2,875 COVID-19 deaths in El Paso.

Cover photo courtesy of the University of Texas at El Paso.

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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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