El Paso, Texas starts curfew to fight COVID-19

Facing a record-breaking surge of COVID-19 cases, the U.S. border city of El Paso in Texas has been put under a mandatory curfew.

County judge Ricardo Samaniego ordered the 10pm to 5am curfew late on Sunday (October 25), with parks and recreational facilities also forced to close for 14 days.

The order is due to expire on November 8, and does not apply to essential workers or people traveling.

Sammaniego told Reuters the measures were essential:

"We are in a crisis. We obviously have 100% capacity now at all of the hospitals. Our ICU units are at full capacity. We're now not able to take in emergencies like we used to of non-COVID patients, which is always a danger point."

With hospitals in the city overwhelmed, an arts center has been converted into a medical care site with 50 beds.

Hospital staff like Dr Ogechicka Alozie say they are treating younger patients and are exhausted by the pressure.

"We are seeing all sorts of patients. The narrative historically has been the above-65, those with multiple co-morbidities. But we're seeing 20-year-olds. We're seeing 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds... As you can imagine, people are just tired. There's that exhaustion, but again, we buckle up and we take care of the patients. We're trying to do the best that we can as this epidemic spreads throughout our city."

It's not just Texas that's seeing a surge, twenty nine states have reported record increases in new cases during October, and the number of people in hospital with the disease is at a two-month high.

The pandemic is likely to be at the forefront of people's minds when they go to the polls for next week's presidential election.