Thursday afternoon, Bishop Mark J. Seitz and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar both released statements regarding the recent surge in Covid-19 cases and the response from local officials.
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar Statement on Surge of COVID-19 Cases in El Paso:
Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) issued the following statement in response to the record-breaking surge of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in El Paso:
“Today, along with the news of the loss of four more lives, our community has reached the grim and heartbreaking milestone of surpassing 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in one day. Make no mistake: El Paso is in a state of emergency. I’ve heard concerns from constituents about long lines at testing sites, outbreaks at schools and with sports teams, and ongoing mask-less gatherings occurring around the community. We are on a dangerous path, with shrinking intensive care unit availability and low hospital capacity that should alarm us all.
“My office has reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to see what other resources might be available for our community, but this crisis will take more than just resources – it will take determination to beat this virus.
“The Trump Administration, our Governor, and our local city government failed the families of the 567 El Pasoans who have died from the virus.
“I am very disappointed that the City of El Paso Municipal Government granted waivers to some groups and organizations, allowing them to host gatherings while the rest of the community sacrificed. As the data shows, lax oversight of these gatherings may have contributed to community spread. Additionally, enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions in our community has been weak with few citations for breaking the rules. Contact tracing, which is key to controlling the spread, has never been as robust as it should have.
“I had hoped to hear a stronger approach by the City at their press conference today, to include more testing, quicker and more thorough contact tracing, stronger enforcement, and a push to reclaim local public health authority from the State, but that was not the case. As the weather cools and the spike continues to rise, local governments must take a much more aggressive approach to prevent more spread and deaths, or we will suffer from the same misery that we witnessed in the Rio Grande Valley.
“The devastation this virus is continuing to cause on both sides of our border is further evidence that we desperately need to develop a binational COVID-19 plan with our Mexican counterparts to address testing, contact tracing, and other infection control and prevention measures throughout the region. That is why I introduced the Binational Health Strategies Act last week and will continue to advocate for such a plan with administration officials and stakeholders.
“I pray that our Senate colleagues will help us continue to deliver the resources we need to local and state governments, those appropriated by the House of Representatives in the Heroes Act, which we passed five months ago. I urge El Pasoans to contact Senators Cornyn and Cruz to ask for their support of this important legislation.
“We also, of course, each have a personal obligation to slow the spread. Wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay home. We must protect the people around us and make the sacrifices our community needs from us. I will continue to work in Congress to secure more resources, but we must have the will to do what’s right and take care of one another.
“I’m grateful to our health care workers, first responders, and essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. All of us – both governments and individuals alike – need to do better by our local heroes.”
Statement from Bishop Seitz on Surge of Coronavirus Cases in El Paso
Our entire community ought to be very concerned about the unprecedented number of positive cases that were reported today.
Clearly this virus, which is a mortal threat to many, is spreading unchecked at this time. Among the leading places that have been the sources of the spread have been stores and restaurants.
If any good news came out of the Mayor’s press conference today it is that no cases are known to have originated in any of our Catholic churches. We believe our limits to the capacity that may gather in churches plus the careful safety protocols that are in place will continue to assure that people can be present for Mass without incurring serious risks.
We will continue to ask that those who have chronic illnesses and those who are advanced in years refrain at this time from attending. At the same time we are offering to pastors the opportunity to lower the number of those who may gather from 25% to 15% if they choose
given the circumstances of their particular church.
I urge you to con1nue to pray for our entire community and especially for those who are ill at this time and for our leaders. You are in my prayers as well. United in love for one another we will come through these difficult times.
God bless you!