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'It's Nonstop' — Texas Reaches 1 Million COVID-19 Cases And 20,000 Deaths

Cars lined up in a parking lot for drive through COVID-19 testing.
Dominic Anthony Walsh
Texas Public Radio
A COVID-19 testing site in Edinburg.

Jorge Ortiz is the general manager with Perches Funeral Home in El Paso.

He now spends his days locked into a grim routine — receiving bodies from local hospitals and rolling them into the chapel, which was recently converted into a refrigerated space for the overflow of death.

“The last two weeks, we have received more COVID cases than the peak... back in the summer — that’s nothing compared to what we're living right now,” he said.

Surges in El Paso, Armarillo and Lubbock have pushed Texas’ total case count over 1 million with about 20,000 deaths — 20,000 parents, grandparents, siblings, coworkers and friends who celebrated the start of the decade in January but died by Thanksgiving.

For the hundreds of thousands of people who survive, the future is uncertain. Many people suffer from longterm, post-infection symptoms affecting almost every system in the body, as well as their mental health.

How did Texas get here, and what lies ahead?

Reported and Produced by: Dominic Anthony Walsh, Michael Treviño, Rick Holter, Mallory Falk, Stella Chávez, Angela Kocherga, Sara Willa Ernst and Bonnie Petrie

Sound Design and Music: Jacob Rosati

Executive Producer: Fernanda Camarena

Host: Bonnie Petrie

TPR News Director: Dan Katz

Texas Newsroom Managing Editor: Mark Memmott

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TPR Staff