UNT, UTEP Football Game Postponed After Surge of COVID-19 Cases in El Paso

UNT eagle statue
Paul Jones, NBC 5 Sports

This weekend's game between the University of Texas at El Paso and North Texas is postponed due to surging cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 in the El Paso area.

In a statement on their website UNT said, "The decision to postpone the game follows the issuance of a stay-at-home order as new, daily positive test rates have reached critical levels in El Paso."

"We are disappointed to have our first postponement of a Conference USA game, but the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and coaches is our number one priority," said UNT President Neal Smatresk. "We send our best wishes to the entire El Paso community as they face the challenge of dealing with the latest outbreak."

UTEP President Heather Wilson said they were disappointed and that they have no players who have tested positive for the virus or who are in isolation.

"We are disappointed that North Texas has chosen not to come to El Paso for the football game this weekend. We have a safe place to play and no players who are sick or in isolation, and North Texas has not indicated that any of their players are ill. We made the decision earlier today not to allow fans in the stadium," Wilson said. "We are proud of the diligence that our student-athletes, coaches and staff have shown to put us in a position to play every week. We look forward to further discussions with Conference USA and North Texas on whether or when this game will be rescheduled.”

Last week Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called for a surge response by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to send additional medical personnel and resources to El Paso to assist with the COVID-19 response effort.

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Since Oct. 1, hospitalizations in El Paso due to COVID-19 have grown from 166 patients to 877 through Monday (see chart above), the most recent date for which data is available from the DSHS. El Paso's previous peak was July 24 when there were 322 patients.

On Wednesday, the Texas Division of Emergency Management tweeted that the El Paso Convention and Performing Art Center is being converted into a health care facility to expand hospital capacity in the El Paso area.

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