EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The El Paso area has reported its highest number of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus since the pandemic began, officials said Sunday.

A record high 449 hospitalizations were reported for Saturday, with 129 of those patients in intensive care, according to El Paso health officials.

In the El Paso area, only seven ICU beds are available, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

Hospitalizations have been steadily increasing in the El Paso area since early September.

The increase in hospitalizations and cases prompted El Paso officials last week to implement tighter restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo had announced that visitors to facilities that care for the elderly will not be allowed, and businesses not considered essential must cut back to 50% of their capacity from 75%. Restaurants are limited to takeout and drive-thru service after 9 p.m., home gatherings are temporarily banned and bars, which had not been allowed to reopen, will remain closed.

The number of new daily COVID-19 cases recorded in El Paso soared Thursday to a record-breaking 838. That number dipped to 684 on Saturday.

The increase in cases in the El Paso area has prompted Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to send doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and personal protective equipment to support hospitals there.

Abbott has also deployed medical personnel and supplies to the Texas Panhandle as the coronavirus has again surged in that part of the state. Hospitalizations are increasing in Amarillo and Lubbock, mirroring overall numbers across the state.

Texas health officials reported 3,048 new confirmed cases and 30 new deaths on Sunday. The newly reported cases raised the state's total to 823,779 since tracking and tracing of the pandemic began in March, according the Texas Department of State Health Services.

An estimated 82,347 of those cases were active with 4,226 requiring hospitalization.

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

Since Oct. 1, the number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 has risen 34% in Texas after the state relaxed restrictions in mid-September, citing a decrease in hospitalizations.

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