San Antonio hospitals taking in El Paso patients amid wave of COVID-19 infections

UT Health Chief Medical Officer: ‘We believe this is the beginning of our next surge’

SAN ANTONIO – A sharp increase of COVID-19 infections in El Paso may be the sign of another incoming surge, the UT Health Chief Medical Officer told staff in an email obtained by KSAT.

Dr. Bob Leverence sent the email Monday morning, telling his staff that “San Antonio is now receiving COVID transfers from El Paso.”

“We believe this is the beginning of our next surge,” Leverence wrote.

University Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bryan Alsip said the El Paso patients are being transferred to hospitals across the state. One was airlifted to the San Antonio area Sunday. Dr. Alsip said he did not know if El Paso was transferring patients with COVID-19 or other patients. He said University Hospital is prepared if there’s an uptick in patients being hospitalized with the novel coronavirus.

“This really is a way to create additional space in those ICUs in El Paso and those hospitals,” Alsip said.

Still, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force may choose to transfer COVID-19 patients to other hospitals in Texas depending on the situation.

Although the spread of COVID-19 has been tamped down across most of Texas following a summer surge, El Paso’s infection rate has caught the attention of state officials in recent weeks.

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 spiked from 259 to 786 within a few weeks and more than 10,000 cases have been recorded in the county in the same amount of time. Local officials have asked residents to stay home for two weeks to mitigate the spread.

On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a makeshift medical facility will be put up at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center to alleviate the stress on hospitals. The facility will initially have 50 beds but can hold up to 100 beds if needed, officials said.

While San Antonio’s COVID-19 numbers have been stable, Leverence wrote that “we will most certainly see an uptick as well.”

“Now is the time to intensify our efforts rather than let down our guard,” Leverence wrote.

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