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Longtime Colorado Springs fitness center shutters one of two locations | El Paso County Economic Indicators

A longtime Colorado Springs fitness center is shutting down one of its two locations, citing a financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accolade Fitness announced on its Facebook page that its gym at 1785 S. 8th St. on the west side will close Sunday; that facility will be consolidated with Accolade’s location at 4390 Arrowswest Drive in northwest Colorado Springs, which will remain open.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unsound economic environment for our business,” Accolade owner Duane Johnston posted on Facebook. “We have been struggling for the past few months to operate two formerly thriving gyms.


Voluntary compliance urged as businesses expected to feel the pinch of new coronavirus restrictions

“By reducing our overhead costs into one gym only, we are confident that we can once again flourish and offer our members and guests the gym/fitness environment that they deserve,” he said.

Johnston, who launched Accolade in March 2009, and other company officials couldn’t be reached for additional comment.

The closing of Accolade’s west-side location comes as El Paso County moved Friday to a stricter set of capacity restrictions for several businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus.


Stay open or close for good? Decisions weigh heavily on Colorado Springs restaurants and retailers

Gyms and fitness centers that had been operating at 25% capacity or 50 people are limited to 25% capacity and 25 people indoors, or groups of less than 10 outdoors.

Accolade’s website and Facebook page lay out options for members seeking refunds or who want to transfer to the Arrowswest facility. The business also plans an auction of fitness equipment Dec. 2 at the 8th Street location.


24 Hour Fitness closes one Colorado Springs location as part of bankruptcy filing

Accolade joins other fitness centers and gyms that have closed locations this year in Colorado Springs, also citing financial troubles because of the pandemic.

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Virus pushes twin cities El Paso and Juarez to the brink

A record surge in coronavirus cases is pushing hospitals to the brink in the border cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, confronting health officials in Texas and Mexico with twin disasters in the tightly knit metropolitan area of 3 million people.

Health officials are blaming the spike on family gatherings, multiple generations living in the same household and younger people going out to shop or conduct business.

The crisis — part of a deadly comeback by the virus across nearly the entire U.S. — has created one of the most desperate hot spots in North America and underscored how intricately connected the two cities are economically, geographically and culturally, with lots of people routinely going back and forth across the border to shop or visit with family.

“We are like Siamese cities,” said Juarez resident Roberto Melgoza Ramos, whose son recovered from a bout of COVID-19 after taking a cocktail of homemade remedies and prescription drugs. “You can’t cut El Paso without cutting Juarez, and you can’t cut Juarez without cutting El Paso.”


In other developments Tuesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, banned indoor dining and drinking in Chicago in one of the biggest retreats yet in the face of the latest surge. And Wisconsin’s governor pleaded with residents to voluntarily stay home as the state shattered records for daily cases and deaths. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued a stay-at-home order in March, but the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court struck it down two months later.

In El Paso, authorities have instructed residents to stay home for two weeks and imposed a 10 p.m. curfew, and they are setting up dozens of hospital beds at a convention center.

Also, the University Medical Center of El Paso erected heated isolation tents to treat coronavirus patients. As of Tuesday, Ryan Mielke, director of public affairs, said the hospital had 195 COVID-19 patients, compared with fewer than three dozen less than a month ago, and “it continues to grow by the day, by the hour.”

In Juarez, the Mexican government is sending mobile hospitals, ventilators and doctors, nurses and respiratory specialists. A hospital is being set up inside the gymnasium of the local university to help with the overflow.

Juarez has reported more than 12,000 infections and over 1,100 deaths, but the real numbers are believed to be far higher, because COVID-19 testing is extremely limited. El Paso County recorded about 1,400 new cases Tuesday, just short of the previous day’s record of 1,443. The county had 853 patients hospitalized for the virus on Monday, up from 786 a day earlier.

Even the mayor of Juarez hasn’t been spared. Armando Cabada was first diagnosed in May and appeared to have recovered, but then landed in the hospital last week with inflamed lungs.

Last week, Chihuahua, which includes Juarez, became the only state in Mexico to return to its highest level health alert, or red, under which most nonessential services are shut down and people are encouraged to stay home.

A curfew is

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health

El Paso imposes curfew as COVID-19 cases overwhelm hospitals: “We are in a crisis stage”

Residents in the Texas border city of El Paso have been urged to stay home for two weeks as a spike in coronavirus cases overwhelms hospitals. The crisis prompted the state to dedicate part of the city’s civic center as a makeshift care center for the ill.

Virus Outbreak Texas
A woman holds up a mask she bought at a store on Friday, May 1, 2020, in El Paso, Texas. 

Cedar Attanasio / AP


El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego on Sunday night issued a stay home order with a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Violators could be fined $500 under the order.

“We are in a crisis stage,” said Samaniego, the county’s top elected official.

Earlier Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said 50 hospital beds will be set up in the convention center and another 50 beds could be added if needed.

Abbott ordered the alternate care site to expand hospital capacity in the El Paso area in response to the coronavirus surge, he said. The site, scheduled to open this week, will provide additional medical equipment and medical personnel.

The surge in El Paso cases comes as President Donald Trump downplayed the virus’ effect on Texas, saying during last week’s presidential debate: “There was a very big spike in Texas, it’s now gone.”

The state has already provided over 900 medical personnel to El Paso, some of whom will be staffing the convention center site.

“The alternate care site and auxiliary medical units will reduce the strain on hospitals in El Paso as we contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region,” Abbott said.

El Paso County health officials reported 772 new coronavirus cases Sunday, a day after a record 1,216 new cases were reported, making up more than 20% of the 3,793 new cases reported statewide. That brought the total cases since the pandemic first hit Texas to 862,375. An estimated 91,885 active cases was the most since Aug. 30, and the 5,206 COVID-19 hospitalizations reported statewide Sunday was the most since Aug. 22.

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El Paso, Texas, curfew installed as COVID-19 patients flood hospitals

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Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks to how personal responsibility and social distancing is the key to ending the spread of the coronavirus.

USA TODAY

EL PASO, Texas – The El Paso civic center will be converted into a medical care site and some patients will be flown to other cities as local hospitals are being inundated with COVID-19 patients.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego on Sunday evening issued a stay-at-home order with a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless going to work or going to an essential service. Violation of the order is punishable by a $500 fine.

“We are in a crisis stage,” Samaniego said, adding that hospitals and intensive care units were filling to capacity.

The curfew is intended to help slow the spread of the virus by reducing the number of people out in public.

As of Sunday morning, a record 786 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 in El Paso, an increase of 71 patients from the day before, and the number of known active cases was a new record with 11,321, according to city-county health data.

El Paso County saw a new record high in coronavirus cases: 1,443 new cases were reported Monday morning, and one new death. 

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday that the Texas Division of Emergency Management will set up an emergency care site with hospital beds, equipment and medical personnel at the civic center this week.

The civic center site will have a capacity of 50 beds and can expand to 100 beds, if needed, the office of the governor said.

Coronavirus updates: In one-week span, US reports highest number of cases since pandemic began; states struggle to contain COVID spread

‘Please stay home’

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is deploying two 35-member disaster medical assistance teams and a trauma critical care team to El Paso, Abbott said. The teams will arrive this week.

El Paso public health officials on Sunday again issued a plea for residents to stay home for two weeks to help curb coronavirus infections.

“In less than three weeks we’ve spiked from 259 to 786 COVID-related hospitalizations – a 300% increase. If we continue on this trend, we risk detrimental effects to our entire healthcare system,” El Paso Public Health Director Angela Mora said in a statement.

“For the sake of those hospitalized and the frontline healthcare workers working tirelessly each day to care for them, we ask you to please stay home for two weeks and eliminate your interactions with those outside your household until we can flatten the curve,” she said.

The increase in COVID-19 patients means there are fewer

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health

El Paso issues curfew to help curb Covid-19 as cases surge and hospitals reach full capacity

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued the curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Sunday night for the next two weeks to help curb the rising rates.

“The purpose of the curfew is to limit mobility in the community,” Samaniego said during a virtual press conference Sunday night, adding that the positivity rate and hospitalizations have exploded in recent weeks. “Currently our hospitals are stretched to capacity,” the judge explained.

The county — which includes the city of El Paso and sits in the southwest border of Texas above Juarez, Mexico — has seen a 160% increase in positivity rate since October 1 and a 300% increase in hospitalizations, the judge said.

“We’ve had significant spikes to the point that our hospital capacity is really tapped. We’re probably at the end of our rope there,” Mayor Dee Margo told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Newsroom Sunday night. “It’s not good here at all.”

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) resources will arrive in Texas this week, including two 35-person Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and a Trauma Critical Car Team, according to a statement from Governor Greg Abbott’s office.

On Sunday, 517 new positive Covid-19 cases were reported in the county for a total of 39,326 confirmed cases, according to the City/County of El Paso Covid-19 website. Three new deaths were also reported for a total of 575 deaths, the website shows.

Curfew imposed to slow spread

Samaniego explained that the curfew was put in place instead of another stay at home order because officials want to minimize the economic impact on businesses and families.

“The curfew is enough to limit the economic consequences on local businesses by allowing the stores to stay open. We carefully thought about the economic impact if we were to impose a full stay at home order like we did at the beginning of this process,” Samaniego explained.

“We know the impact it would have for you not to be able to go to work. So we’re going to do everything possible to continue moving towards the balancing of the economy and making sure that we adhere to public health and everything that is required for us to continue our battle against this very insidious virus,” he added.

Audrey Rodriguez of the Bowling Family YMCA in Northeast El Paso prepares the venue for early voting by putting out social distancing and direction markers from the entrance into the parking lot.

Those who don’t comply with orders could face a fine of $250 for not wearing a mask and $500 for not following the order, Samaniego said.

Mayor Margo said that while there hasn’t been one cause identified for the recent surge, many cases have been attributed to community spread and people letting their guard down.

“We did an analysis for two weeks on 2,404 cases from October 6 through October 20 and what we found is that 37% of our positives were from visiting large big-box stores, 22.5% were restaurants, and 19% were travel to Mexico,” Margo explained, adding that 10% were attributed to parties and reunions, 7.5% were due to gyms and only 4% were due to large gatherings.

The mayor urged people to

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health

Curfew enacted in El Paso as county judge says hospitals and ICUs near capacity

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Sunday that the state will establish an alternate care site to expand care in El Paso as the region deals with surging COVID-19 cases. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego on Sunday issued a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., saying all El Paso hospitals are filling to capacity.

“We are at a crisis stage,” Samaniego said.

El Paso officials said Sunday there were 517 new cases, as well as 55 delayed testing results reported by the state, for a total of 11,321 active cases in the area. Three additional deaths were reported.

“In less than three weeks we’ve spiked from 259 to 786 COVID-related hospitalizations — a 300% increase. If we continue on this trend, we risk detrimental effects to our entire healthcare system,” said El Paso public health director Angela Mora in a statement on Sunday.  

The new alternate care site will open this week at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center with 50 beds and the ability to expand to 100 beds if needed.

US-TEXAS-HEALTH-VIRUS-ECONOMY
Cars line up for Covid-19 tests at the University of Texas El Paso on October 23, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. 

Photo by Paul Ratje / AFP) (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images


The federal Department of Health and Human Services will also be deploying two 35-person disaster teams, Abbott said. The state has already deployed 900 additional medical personnel to El Paso, some of which will staff the auxiliary care site.

“The alternate care site and auxiliary medical units will reduce the strain on hospitals in El Paso as we contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region,” Abbott said.

A report by UT-Austin released Thursday said “the El Paso region has the most threatening projections, with an estimated 85% probability that COVID-19 cases will exceed local hospital capacity by November 8th, 2020.”

According to the same report, five other regions have a more than 25% chance of hospitals being overwhelmed with in 3 weeks: Amarillo (28%), Lubbock (29%), Wichita Falls (30%), San Angelo (29%) and Galveston (33%).

Abbott announced on Saturday that he had requested the use of a medical center at Fort Bliss for non-COVID-19 patients. Officials with the University Medical Center of El Paso said Saturday they are working to coordinate airlifting patients requiring critical care to other hospitals in the state. This will be a strictly voluntary decision by the patients and arrangements will be made to bring all patients home to El Paso, CBS El Paso affiliate KDBC reported.  

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise both throughout Texas and nationwide. On Friday, more cases were reported than any other single day since the pandemic began. 

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Texas seeks to shore up hospital capacity in El Paso as coronavirus cases surge nationwide

New reported infections nationwide surpassed 80,000 for the first time this Friday and again Saturday, as hospitalizations push past 40,000 and daily death tolls begin to climb. Officials are already trying to shore up overwhelmed facilities: In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday announced that state authorities are creating a new site for medical care and deploying extra resources to hospitals in El Paso, where covid-19 hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled to almost 800 in less than three weeks.

The United States’ latest case spike, expected to intensify as winter draws closer, is geographically broader than the spring surge that devastated East Coast states and the summer wave that hit the South and Southwest. And it comes as leaders are leery of renewed shutdowns, as Americans grow wearier of restrictions and as the Thanksgiving travel season looms.

In previous waves, “our governments reacted,” said Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine professor at Brown University. “We closed bars. We closed restaurants. We enforced mask mandates. And I’m not seeing a lot of that nationally right now.”

“We are set up for just a perfect storm — a conflagration,” she said. “Right now, you can talk about there being lots of little burning fires across the country. And then Thanksgiving will be the wind that will whip this fire up into an absolutely human disaster for our country.”

In El Paso, authorities are urging people to stay home as efforts to add hospital beds kick in. The new facility announced by Abbott, set to open this week at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center, will start at 50 beds but can expand to 100 if necessary, the governor’s office said, while “auxiliary medical units” sent to hospitals can boost capacity by 100 beds.

In a Sunday call, Abbott also asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ease the pressure with a Department of Defense medical center in El Paso. Abbott asked to house non-coronavirus patients in William Beaumont Army Medical Center so that hospitals in the El Paso area could give more beds to those with covid-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes.

Health and Human Services did not immediately provide a comment.

New daily infections in El Paso have rocketed from fewer than 25,000 at the beginning of the month to more than 38,500 this weekend, according to The Washington Post’s tracking. New deaths have yet to surpass a peak in August, but deaths lag behind spikes in cases and hospitalizations.

The mayor of El Paso, Dee Margo, said he learned on a recent ride-along with fire officials that most of their calls are related to the coronavirus. If moves to address hospitals’ strain do not work, he said, he will ask the governor for more action. He pleaded with residents to mind their behavior to avoid “drastic measures.”

Some public health experts say they are not optimistic about the chances of ramping up coronavirus restrictions again across the country.

“I don’t see forceful policy intervention happening

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El Paso sees all-time coronavirus high with 1,161 new cases, 4 deaths

El Paso residents should stay home as much as possible for the next two weeks to help stop a tidal wave of COVID-19 infections, the mayor and medical leaders said Thursday at a news conference.

El Paso County reported a record-setting 1,161 new cases Thursday, along with four additional deaths.

The rising number of infections means hospitalizations will increase, possibly straining health care capacity, and there will be more deaths in coming weeks as some patients succumb to the respiratory illness, medical officials warned.

“The reality is we are in for some very dark times if we aren’t able to turn this around,” said Dr. Ogechika Alozie, chief medical officer for El Paso’s Del Sol Medical Center.

“Families are losing loved ones and they will never see them after they drop them off at the emergency room,” Alozie said.

There were no new mandated business closures or restrictions announced Thursday by Mayor Dee Margo as the city seeks to balance public health and the potential economic fallout of closings.

Parks will be closed to sports leagues, but walking trails and playgrounds will remain open, Margo said.

The spike is part of an overall increase in cases over the past month due in part to community spread.

The surge is much earlier than when El Paso health officials had expected the second wave of COVID-19 to strike — in late November or December.

The number of current infections is twice as much as a peak in July.

“We knew we would have a second wave; this has hit us a lot harder than the previous one we had in July,” Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the city-county health authority, said at the news conference.

El Paso County has had more than 10,000 new cases in just three weeks, Ocaranza said.

Testing is being expanded to help contain the surge, El Paso Fire Department officials said. A record 32,000 tests were done last week. 

The state of Texas has sent more than 300 nurses, respiratory therapists and doctors to El Paso and is sending additional staff and supplies.

But it will be up to the community to do its part to slow the spread by avoiding going out, medical officials said.

Margo and health officials asked residents to stay home for the next two weeks, going out only if essential. Residents should wear face coverings and practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet away from others.

“Shop with one person, if possible; don’t take the entire family,” said Margo, adding he understands the challenges families with young children may face.

An enforcement task force will continue to visit businesses to make sure they are in compliance with safety and occupancy rules and hours of operation restrictions enacted a week ago, Fire Department officials said. About 140 citations and hundreds of warnings have been issued.

Last week, the mayor ordered nonessential businesses be limited to 50% capacity, a reduction from the previous 75% capacity limit. After 9 p.m., restaurants are limited to takeout and

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