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Official: El Paso hospitals near ‘breaking point’ from virus

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EL PASO, Texas – El Paso hospitals are near a "breaking point” as 3,100 new cases of the coronavirus were reported there Wednesday, an official said.

“Hospitalizations continue to rise sharply and unfortunately more people we know will continue to succumb to the complications of this disease," said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso's city and county health authority.

“Our hospitals are near breaking point, we need everyone to do their part to stop this virus," he said.

There were 1,041 hospitalizations Wednesday, health officials said.

Texas recently surpassed California in recording the highest number of positive tests for the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University's data. The latest numbers show more than 952,000 reported Texas cases.

The true number of infections is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

El Paso has become a hot spot, with the governor sending additional medical personnel and equipment, and El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the county's top elected official, ordered a two-week shutdown of nonessential activities late last week.

But a group of restaurant operators and the Texas Attorney General's Office have asked a judge for a temporary injunction to stop the shutdown.

Attorney General Ken Paxton has argued the order is illegal because it goes against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide order to reopen businesses while county officials say Samaniego has the authority to order the shutdown because the county is facing an emergency situation.

District Judge William Moody said Wednesday that he plans to have a ruling by Friday morning.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.