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Home | Breaking News | El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from April 8th thru April 21st
Corona virus | Graphic courtesy CDC

El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from April 8th thru April 21st

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from April 8th through 21st.

For the most recent health developments on COVID-19, please visit our up-to-the-minute page; for official info, click below.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)   |   World Health Organization    |    City of El Paso Department of Public Health

***ARCHIVE CONTENT FOLLOWS***

***City health officials announce COVID19 total now at 587;  No new deaths recorded (4/21/2020)

During a Tuesday evening virtual news conference, Mayor Dee Margo and officials with the Department of Health announced 47 new COVID-19 cases in the El Paso Area, bringing the total to 587.

City/County Health Authority head Dr. Hector Ocaranza warned that the region had not “reached our peak,” as health officials are still seeing significant numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Positive cases in El Paso County include 304 females and 283 males; see accompanying graphics and map below. There are now 37 patients hospitalized, and 13 of those are currently in ICU.

The City will be expanding its testing criteria at the drive-thru site to include testing for the general public that are presenting symptoms.

“We are moving into the third phase of our testing and are now able to test the general community who are showing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, etc.” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso City/County Health Authority. “The opportunity to expand testing will allow us to identify more COVID-19 positive cases in our community to isolate them and reduce the spread of the virus to others.”

The testing is free and a physician’s order or insurance is not required, however staff may still ask for orders and insurance as a part of the process.

Qualifying individuals must not take any fever reducing medications prior to the appointment. If testing criteria is not met, the appointment and/or specimen collection at the site will be denied.

To make an appointment call (915) 212-0783 during operational hours of Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.  The location of the collection specimen drive-thru site will be provided when the appointment is made.

Instructions will be provided for those awaiting their results. Test results will be received between three (3) to seven (7) days.

Additional information is available at EPStrong.org

The mayor, as well as County Judge Ricardo Samaniego addressed the difference between the El Paso area and the rest of the state, in regards to reopening businesses.

Both said they will be reviewing the local orders, and in some instances modifying them to be in line with the Governor Greg Abbott’s executive orders from last week.

Samaniego stated that some retail stores – following social distancing guidelines – would be allowed to reopen this Friday, April 26; however they will be limited to curbside service and customers would not be allowed to enter the store.

Judge Samaniego added,” We have to balance health issues with the economy opening.”

City and County officials are still working to review the federal and state executive orders to finalize amendments to the local Stay Home, Work Safe Orders and emergency ordinances.

 

***

***DPH reports additional COVID19 Death: 9 total; El Paso now has 540 total cases (4/20/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting one (1) additional COVID-19 death, for a total number of nine (9) deaths. The patient is a male in his 60s and staff are investigating possible underlying medical conditions.

The City is also reporting nine (9) new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 540. Positive cases in El Paso County include 278 females and 262 males; see accompanying graphics and map.

There are 38 patients who are hospitalized, and thirteen (13) of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“Every time we report additional case numbers, whether it’s nine, 20 or 50, keep in mind that these positive cases mean there is greater potential exposure for our community. This is especially concerning for those who may have underlying conditions,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “We cannot afford to be complacent in the war against this virus and compromise the lives of those who are susceptible. When we ask you to stay home you need to stay home.”

 

***

***El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank re-routing traffic at Circle Drive location (4/20/2020)

Beginning Monday, April 20, 2020, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank (9541 Plaza Circle) will be rerouting traffic to their food distribution area from Americas Avenue and Pan American Road to Carl Longuemare Rd.
People seeking food assistance will need to enter through Carl Longuemare Rd. and turn into Plaza Creek—where vehicles will then be directed to the food distribution area. The new route comes in an effort to make the passage to the food bank safer and avoid traffic backup on Americas Avenue.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in March, the food bank has faced a soaring demand and is serving more families and individuals struggling with hunger.
So far, the EP Fighting Hunger has given out more than 100,000 emergency food boxes to over 35,000 families and individuals at 5 major distribution sites and several mobile sites per week.
EPFH is working to ensure that individuals impacted by COVID-19 and related disruptions continue to have the nutritious food they need. The food bank’s crisis team is partnered with Feeding America, the network of 200 food banks, and local partners to ensure the safest handling of food and distributions to our communities.

***

***Fort Hancock Crossing Temporarily Adjusts Closing Time Beginning April 26 (4/20/2020)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations is alerting members of the traveling public that the Fort Hancock international crossing will close at 6 p.m. starting Sunday, April 26. Regular operational hours at the Fort Hancock crossing are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

With the “essential only” travel restrictions imposed on March 21, 2020 in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to see significantly reduced privately owned vehicle and pedestrian traffic along our northern and southern borders.

Traffic is down approximately 60 percent at the Fort Hancock crossing.

CBP reminds the public that the Ysleta and El Paso ports of entry are maintaining their 24-hour status and are available as alternatives.

The Fort Hancock crossing will return to previous hours once the current travel restrictions are lifted.

***

***El Paso now has 531 cases of COVID19, 8 total deaths as of Sunday (4/19/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 26 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 531, the number of deaths remains at eight (8).

Positive cases in El Paso County include 272 females and 259 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 29 patients who are hospitalized, and eight (8) of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“The worst thing that we can do is become complacent and think that this pandemic is starting to slow down and become irrelevant,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Apathy will just provide the virus the opportunity to spread like wild fire in our community. We all want this to be over but it is going to take some time and determination to make sure we keep this virus in check.”

In addition to abiding by the Stay Home, Work Safe Orders and avoiding any gatherings with anyone outside a person’s immediate household, public health officials continue to urge residents to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the use of simple cloth face coverings can slow the spread of the virus by helping people, who may have the virus and do not know it, from transmitting it to others. (click here)

It is also recommended that the face coverings be cleaned daily. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering.

The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If these symptoms appear and do not improve, the person should contact their healthcare provider or seek medical attention.

 

The 21-COVID hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). To report non-compliance call 3-1-1 or visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***DPH reports 505 COVID19 cases in El Paso area, additional death brings total to 8 (4/18/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting one additional COVID-19 death, bringing the total number of deaths to eight (8). The patient was a male in his 70s with underlying health conditions.
El Paso is now reporting 23 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 505. Positive cases in El Paso County include 258 females and 247 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 25 patients who are hospitalized, and 10 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We send our sincere condolences to the loved ones of our latest COVID-19 victim. We also wish to remind the community that our community’s curve will not flatten unless we take the Stay Home, Work Safe Orders seriously and follow social distancing guidelines,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “We have seen time and time again in other parts of the country where there are no social distancing guidelines and individuals not wearing face coverings the number of positive cases quickly escalate. We can and must take responsibility for own actions.”

Public health officials continue to remind residents that the Stay Home order remains in effect and urges the community to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks.

 

***

***City of Socorro Issues Update to Executive Order; Mask mandatory for residents, businesses, visitors (4/18/2020)

In an effort to keep the public’s health & well-being, the following addition to the current ordinance will go into effect on Monday, April 20, 2020, and anyone residing in, working in, or traveling through are expected to comply.

The public in general and Essential Business Employees shall comply with the following:

• To the greatest extent possible, all persons over the age of two (2) shall wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief, when:

1. Patronizing an Essential Business
2. Using public transportation, taxis, or ride shares
3. In a public place where it is difficult to keep six feet away from other people.

• This section shall not apply to persons that are:

1. Riding in a personal vehicle
2. Engaging in outdoor activity
3. Eating
4. Wearing a covering poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk such as anyone who has trouble breathing,
or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

Children under the age of two (including infants) should not wear cloth face coverings. Those between the ages of two and nine should use them, but under adult supervision to ensure that the child can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation. Children with breathing problems should not wear a face covering.

Parents and Guardians of children under ten shall be responsible for appropriately masking children pursuant to this Order.

All COVID-19 Suspected Positives, those currently being tested, and untested individuals with cough and/or fever, and household members of the same category of individuals shall not leave their residence without a mask or cloth face covering to prevent the spread to others.

To the greatest extent possible, all individuals working for an Essential Business must wear a mask or cloth face-covering whenever in public and whenever performing job duties in the presence of others.

To the greatest extent possible, employers shall provide employees with a mask or face covering. An owner or operator of an Essential Business may refuse admission or service to any individual who fails to wear a face-covering.

Medical grade (N95) and surgical masks should be reserved and used only by medical professionals and first responders. Cloth face coverings are not intended for use by healthcare workers, first responders, and others whose work requires close contact with people who are ill.

Cloth coverings should be made in accordance with CDC guidance, which can be found here

Should anyone have any questions, please call (915) 858-2915 or visit www.ci.socorro.tx.us

***

***482 COVID19 cases in El Paso area, 7 Deaths  (4/17/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 31 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 482, the number of deaths remains at seven (7).

Positive cases in El Paso County include 248 females and 234 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 38 patients hospitalized, and 11 of those are currently in ICU.

City and County officials are reviewing the federal and state executive orders to determine what amendments, if any, will need to be made to the local orders.

“The Governor’s steps to reopen the State provides hope that we will move forward from this pandemic,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “However, the reopening of El Paso is contingent on the rate of infection and residents complying with the current Stay Home Order. Until we see a consistent decrease in our positive cases, we will not be ready to lift restrictions.”

While Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order would allow most state parks in Texas to reopen on Monday, April 20, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has advised that Franklin Mountain State Park and Hueco Tanks State Park will remain closed until further notice due in part to the local COVID-19 trends. The closure of the local State Parks will also reduce the high risk of individuals getting lost or injured that would require the Fire Department’s Search and Rescue Operations to respond to possible mountain rescues, diverting critically needed first responders from the COVID-19 mission.

“State leadership understands that El Paso County continues to see an increase in cases that cannot be ignored,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Reducing the number of cases locally rest in each and every one of our community residents’ hands and will require all of us to follow the Stay Home Order more closely and adhering to social distancing measures. Only then, will some of the restrictions in El Paso be lifted.”

In addition to abiding by the Stay Home, Work Safe orders and avoiding any gatherings with anyone outside a person’s immediate household, public health officials continue to urge residents to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the use of simple cloth masks to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. (Click HERE for more information)

It is also recommended that the face coverings be cleaned at least daily. A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

 

***

***Ysleta, Fabens ISDs to comply with Governor’s order, set guidelines for end of school year and distance learning (4/17/2020)

With Texas Governor Greg Abbott announcing that all schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, districts are releasing information regarding the end of year procedure and distance learning guidelines.

Below are the statements from individual area ISDs as they are received by our editors, this post will be updated as new information arrives.

YISD to provide instructional support through June 5

As confirmed by Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement Friday, schools will not reopen this year. However, as the Ysleta Independent School District has already indicated, our teachers will continue to support students through June 5, 2020.

Students who have successfully completed their coursework will not be provided new content after Friday, May 15; however, all students will still be responsible for completing their virtual assignments with a final cutoff date of Friday, June 5.

This includes completion of incomplete and E2020 coursework, dual credit courses, on-ramps, AP, and credit recovery. Teachers will continue to support students in this regard through the last day of school, which is Friday, June 5.

Thereafter, all students will continue to have access to THEDISTRICT@Home and our online resources, including IStation, ImagineLearning, and Education Galaxy, to name a few. Summer school begins June 8, and will be available to all students

*

Fabens ISD School Closure  – April 17, 2020

Fabens, TX – Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Friday, April 17, 2020, an executive order requiring all public schools to remain closed for the rest of the current school year.

Fabens ISD will follow this order and will continue to provide remote instruction to students through instructional packets and online learning platforms. For more information, www.fabensisd.net

***

***UIL Cancels all remaining Spring Activities, State Championships (4/17/2020)

With the announcement from Governor Greg Abbott that all Texas schools are to remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of this school year, and in an effort to help protect the health and safety of Texans, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is canceling all remaining 2019-2020 spring activities and state championships.

“Our staff had been working hard on plans to resume activities this spring, but without schools in session, interscholastic activities cannot continue,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “Our highest priority during this challenging time is ensuring the health and safety of our students and communities and making progress in the containment of COVID-19 in Texas. We are now turning our attention to the 2020-2021 school year.”

Practices, rehearsals, and workouts remain suspended until further notice. The previously communicated information allowing remote instruction remains in place. The UIL will continue to follow the direction of state authorities and will work closely with member schools to navigate this unprecedented time.

“I am grateful to the UIL staff for their leadership and dedication to students,” said UIL Legislative Council Chair Curtis Rhodes. “Together we will get through this and we look forward to the day students are once again able to participate in education-based interscholastic activities.”

Further details will be forthcoming. Please continue to check the UIL website and social media accounts for updates.

***

***El Paso International Airport awarded $15 Million in Coronavirus Relief Funding (4/17/2020)

Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Monica Lombraña, Chief Operations and Transportation Officer for the City of El Paso announced that the El Paso International Airport (ELP) has been awarded a total of $15,431,799 in federal grant funding to assist with prevention, preparedness, and response to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The El Paso International Airport is an important regional hub for travel and trade and has been hit hard by this health and economic crisis,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “I am proud to have fought to secure this much-needed funding to ensure ELP continues supporting its workers and serving our community.”

“Funding provided through the CARES Act will allow El Paso International Airport to mitigate financial losses arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to provide essential air transportation services to those in our community who need to travel,” Lombraña said.

The funding was authorized and made available by the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third coronavirus response which Congresswoman Escobar helped craft with community input and was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020.

The CARES Act secured critical provisions for El Paso workers and their families and invested $2 trillion to help our public health systems, state and local governments, and small businesses, including approximately $10 billion to support U.S. airports experiencing severe economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

This funding will be distributed to airports by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and can be used to prepay long-term contracts like shuttle-bus operators, janitorial services, security services, fire and police services, purchase an aviation or avigation easement, accelerate structured settlement agreements or pay the penalty for early defeasement of debt, and for  airport development including surface access projects. To read more about airport grants click here.

***

***Texas Governor announces plans for reopening Texas in stages (4/17/2020)

Friday morning, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he was issuing executive orders to begin the process of reopening the state, albeit in stages.

“All stores in Texas should be able to operate retail to go beginning next Friday – one week from today,” the Governor shared.

Governor Abbott talked of his statewide strike force, made up of business, medical and government officials, tasked with providing the guidelines to reopening the state.

As the governor stressed the need for medical professionals to get back to work via regular surgeries and procedures, on April 22nd, restrictions will be eased on non-COVID medical procedures.

“Effective April 22, current restrictions on surgery will be loosened….this will allow doctors to diagnose and treat more medical conditions without needing to get an exception,”  Abbott said.

During his live, Abbott also said that the state’s parks would reopen on Monday; with strict guidelines on visitors having to wear masks and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and other visitors not of their household.

Regarding Texas schools, Abbott said as medical experts said that it’s still unsafe for groups to gather in groups at schools, so all public and private schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.  The governor added that public schools still must provide online instruction to continue receiving funding and avoid extending their school year.

Governor Abbott also said that on April 27, he would announce additional ways to reopen Texas in a “safe way.”

He stressed that the new plans will be based on the rate of containment of  COVID-19 in Texas.

To read the governor’s executive orders, click here.

***

***El Paso’s COVID19 total grows to 451, DPH confirms 7 total deaths (4/16/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting one (1) additional COVID-19 death, bringing the total number of deaths to seven (7). The patient is a male in his 60s with underlying health conditions.

El Paso is reporting a third day of double-digit increases with 58 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 451. Positive cases in El Paso County include 232 females and 219 males; see graphics and map below.

There are now 48 patients hospitalized, and 10 of those are currently in ICU.

Health officials said the large increase in cases is due in part to an increase in testing. Officials point out that the testing rate in El Paso is three and a half times greater than the national average.

Approximately 5.9 per 1,000 residents have been tested for COVID-19 as compared to 1.6 per 1,000 nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While private labs are only required to report positive numbers, the Department of Public Health has been working with the private laboratories to obtain their total numbers.

To-date it is estimated that more than 5,000 tests have been performed, of which DPH has performed more than 1,000 tests.

“As much as we wish we were; we are not at a point in time where we are able to test the entire population. We are still being strategic about how we test, focusing on at-risk populations, such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.

“There is no question that we have to be judicious with the scarce resources we have, but we are still above the national average when it comes to testing.”

In addition to strict testing regulations, local law enforcement will also be modifying the process to increase enforcement on those who ignore the City and County’s Stay Home, Work Safe orders. Residents who call 3-1-1 to report non-compliance will receive real-time response from enforcement officials. Fire marshals will be responding to reports of businesses operating outside of the restrictions, and police will be responding to local residences.

The changes come as public health officials warn that non-compliance during the past Easter weekend will likely lead to a sharp increase in cases in the coming days and weeks.

The 21-COVID (915-212-6843) hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***IDEA Public Schools to Provide Bundled Meals for the Weekend on Fridays (4/16/2020)

Thursday morning, officials with IDEA Public Schools announced that they will begin providing ‘bundled meals’ for all children under the age of 18.  IDEA currently has three campuses in the El Paso region: Mesa Hills, Edgemere and Rio Vista in Socorro.

Below is their complete statement:

Beginning this Friday, all IDEA Public Schools campuses in Texas will be providing bundled meals for the weekend that include breakfast and lunch.

These weekend meals will be given out every Friday from 7 – 10 a.m.

All meals are provided via drive-thru only. All children, 18 years old and under, are eligible for meal service at any school location. Due to new regulations by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), if a child is not present in the car, parents must be able to show proof of identity in order to receive meals.

***

***393 cases of COVID19 in El Paso area, Deaths now at 6 (4/15/2020)

Mayor Dee Margo announced Wednesday the addition of two residents to the Coronavirus death toll, raising it to 6 overall; as well as 47 new cases of COVID19, putting the region at 393 total.

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting two (2) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to six (6). Both patients are males with underlying health conditions, one in his 50s and the other in his 80s.

El Paso is now reporting 47 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 393. Positive cases in El Paso County include 203 females and 190 males; see accompanying graphics and map.

There are now 65 patients hospitalized, and 27 of those are currently in ICU.

“People need to realize that things will continue getting worse in El Paso if they don’t adhere to the Stay Home, Work Safe orders,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Our numbers continue to rise. If we don’t stay at home, practice social distancing, and wear the recommended face coverings when in public, it is only a matter of time before one of our loved ones is struck by COVID-19 and we do not want more devastated families. We can prevent this by being proactive in our approach, but it will take all of us.”

In addition to abiding by the Stay Home, Work Safe orders and avoiding any gatherings with anyone outside a person’s immediate household, public health officials continue to urge residents to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. (Click here for more info)

It is also recommended that the face coverings be cleaned daily. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering.

***

*** Ysleta del Sur Pueblo records first case of COVID19; Tribal Council imposes strict curfew, travel ban for YDSP Residents (4/15/2020)

They Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Council announced on Wednesday afternoon the first recorded case of COVID19 in their community.  As a result, they have immediately enacted the most restrictive guidelines in the area; below is the statement released via their Facebook page.

AS OF APRIL 15, 2020, THE YSLETA DEL SUR PUEBLO HAS RECORDED ITS FIRST CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASE. El Paso County stands at 346 confirmed cases and 4 deaths.

As YDSP and El Paso City/County leadership prepares for a more significant rise in COVID-19 cases in our area in the coming weeks, Tribal Council has authorized a CURFEW and TRAVEL BAN EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. The travel ban prohibits YDSP RESIDENTS OF ANY TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE EL PASO AREA.

In addition, effective Wednesday April 15th starting at 10pm and ending at 5:30am, a YDSP community curfew will be enforced that will remain in effect daily until further notice.

The Tribal Council appreciates your patience and understanding as these mitigation efforts are meant to keep the YDSP community safe. The Pueblo continues to observe the Stay Home, Work Safe order currently in place for El Paso and has also extended its government closure to May 17th.

In addition, Tribal Fire and Police personnel will continue with Community Checkpoints at both Districts I & II. The Checkpoints will be manned with police and fire personnel and are intended to ensure the compliance with the directives set forth by Tribal Council.

Anyone (Visitors and Tribal Residents) entering Districts I & II will be screened for temperatures and interviewed prior to entry of residential areas. Some may be directed to self- isolate for 14-days while others may be denied entrance.

Tribal Police will also enforce citations for any violation of its Stay Home, Work Safe Directive. The following directives REMAIN in effect until further notice:

• Tribal Members are only to go out for essential activities and must only send one person in the household to carry out those essential activities such as grocery shopping or picking up medicines.

• One of those new recommendations for Tribal Members is to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that ask the public to consider wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).

• Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

• All individuals living within Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Districts I & II are directed to stay at home or at their place of residence unless they are performing essential duties, working in an essential business, government, etc. Public and Private gatherings of any number of people are prohibited.

• CONTACT TRIBAL COMMUNICATIONS AT (915) 860-9653 WITH KNOWLEDGE OF ANY TRIBAL RESIDENT IN DISTRICT I OR DISTRICT II THAT HAS TRAVELED OUTSIDE the El Paso area any time since March 23rd and has recently returned. Also report any visitors that you may be expecting from outside the El Paso area.

• Any public or private gatherings at any recreational area, park, pool or recreational facility is prohibited.

• Tribal members are discouraged from posting any social media messages with false information about
COVID-19 cases. These postings may be considered disorderly conduct violations and individuals will be cited.

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If these symptoms do not improve, contact your healthcare provider or seek medical attention. The 21-COVID hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral services contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling Tribal Communications at (915) 860-9653. Tribal Police will be vigilant in its enforcement of the directives issued and may cite individuals. The Tribal Council urges each tribal member to exercise extreme caution in daily activities to ensure public safety for all.

***

***EPISD changes meal distribution days to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to limit contact during COVID-19 pandemic (4/15/2020)

On Wednesday, the El Paso Independent School District officials announced that will continue to provide five days’ worth of meals to any child under the age of 18 during the COVID-19 campus closures but will shift distribution to three days a week starting on Monday.

Starting on April 20, EPISD will distribute meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in order to lessen potential exposure to the novel coronavirus for families and cafeteria workers.

“We are proud of the efforts EPISD has made to make sure all children in El Paso have access to healthy meals during these difficult times,” Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera said. “However, we want to make sure that our employees and our families reduce the risk of being infected by the virus. This move to three days a week will help us continue our service to the community and safeguard the wellbeing of everyone.”

The take-home meals will be distributed curbside using social distancing guidelines on those days from 11a.m. to 1 p.m.

Although meals will be distributed three times a week, children will receive breakfast and lunch for five days. Children will receive two breakfasts and two lunches on Mondays and Wednesdays, and one breakfast and lunch on Friday.

For full list of sites and more information click here.

***

***DPH officials announce 2 more COVID19 deaths for total of 4; El Paso Area now has 346 positive cases (4/14/2020)

 The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting the two additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to four. The patients were both males in their 70s with underlying health conditions.

El Paso is now reporting 46 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 346. Positive cases in El Paso County include 175 females and 171 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 61 patients who are hospitalized, and 26 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We once again are saddened to report two new deaths due to COVID-19, and our hearts go out to the families of these two men,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “We are also disappointed to report another large increase in the number of positive cases, which further emphasizes the need for the community to strictly adhere to the Stay Home, Work Safe Order.”

STAY HOME, WORK SAFE ORDERS EXTENDED

On Sunday, April 12, 2020, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended his Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. On Monday, April 13, in compliance with the state, the City Council voted extend the City’s Disaster Declaration until May 17, 2020, to include the Stay Home, Work Safe orders.

“The Governor extended his Disaster Declaration to May 30, and to ensure compliance with State law requiring 30 day extensions, the City Council renewed the Emergency Declaration and Stay Home Order an additional 30 days. Originally issued on March 17, the order will now continue until May 17,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “Today’s heartbreaking report of two additional deaths and 46 new cases proves that we cannot let our guard down.  We need to protect the health and wellness of our residents, especially our most vulnerable loved ones.”

ASSISTING PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES

The City of El Paso and Project Amistad have teamed up in order to meet the testing needs of people with disabilities, who otherwise would not have access.

Passengers with disabilities, who meet the drive thru testing criteria and have scheduled an appointment to be tested via the drive thru, can call Sun Metro LIFT to schedule special transportation accommodations. LIFT staff will coordinate the transportation through Project Amistad, who will take the passenger to the testing site and take them back home after the test.

If a resident meets the drive thru criteria, they can make an appointment at (915)212-0783. Testing criteria can be found on the epstrong.org home page and click on “Testing Information” button. To schedule an appointment with the LIFT program, call (915)212-0100, Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. LIFT transportation services are available from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Friday and 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.

UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS

The City of El Paso is collaborating with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso in order to provide additional COVID-19 testing.

The agreements will be finalized in late April with testing to begin soon after. In the agreement, Texas Tech extended its medical testing certification to the UTEP laboratories. The extension will allow UTEP faculty and staff to assist the Department of Public Health to analyze patient samples for COVID-19. Results will be sent to the healthcare provider who will notify the patients.

The 21-COVID hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

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***EPISD outlines grading procedures for distance learning (4/14/2020)

On Tuesday, officials with the El Paso Independent School District announced its guidelines for student assessment and grading during the COVID-19 related campus closures that forced students and teachers to shift to distance learning in March.

Grading procedures were crafted using guidance from the Texas Education Agency and best practices from other local and state education experts who also are dealing with school closures during the pandemic.

EPISD developed three different grading systems: one each for students in elementary, middle and high school campuses.

To read the guidelines, click here.

***

*** City tops 300 COVID19 cases, deaths remain at 2; Officials warn residents to comply with Stay Home, Work Safe guidelines that have been extended to May 17.  (4/13/2020)

 The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 300, the number of deaths remains at two.

Positive cases in El Paso County include 153 females and 147 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 58 patients who are hospitalized, and 23 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We continue to urge residents to stay home and use a face covering when out performing essential duties or tasks,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “This is a true emergency and we need everyone to take responsibility and insist on strict cooperation. We cannot do this without the community taking some level of accountability for their own health, and that of their family, friends and neighbors.”

Stay Home, Work Safe orders have been extended to May 17,2020 and residents are directed to stay home and only go out for essential business. Code enforcement officers are responding to incidents where businesses and individuals are violating the order. During the Easter weekend 319 complaints were reported, 311 warnings were issued and 8 citations given.

“Citations can cost an individual up to $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail, additionally businesses risk losing their City permits. Peace officers and the Fire Marshal Office, are authorized to enforce this Directive,” said Jorge Rodriguez, Emergency Management Coordinator.

***

***State announces additional Small Business Loans for Payroll, Funding Open to Local Businesses  (4/13/2020)

El Paso small businesses affected by COVID-19 will now be able to apply for loans as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
Governor Greg Abbott Monday announced that Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund, along with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs), are partnering to provide $50 million in loans to small businesses in Texas.
These loans, made through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), will primarily be used for payroll so that employees can continue to receive paychecks and small businesses can retain their employees and will be partially or wholly forgiven.
“This is an exceptional opportunity for El Paso businesses to receive financial support. I applaud the actions of the Governor, Goldman Sachs and Liftfund,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “I encourage all businesses impacted by COVID-19 to apply immediately.”
Goldman Sachs will provide the capital as part of its $550 million commitment to COVID-19 relief, and LiftFund, alongside other CDFIs, will administer the funding to qualified small businesses. If all stipulations are met, small business can have their loans forgiven in full by the SBA.
Business owners can apply for a PPP loan and find more information about the program on the LiftFund Website.

***

***As of Sunday, 292 cases of COVID19 according to El Paso DPH (4/12/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 23 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 292, the number of deaths remains at two.
Positive cases in El Paso County include 147 females and 145 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 57 patients who are hospitalized, and 23 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.
“We will continue to see new cases as we are beginning to approach our peak. However, the hope is that El Paso will start to see a flattening of the curve as more members of our community begin to understand how crucial it is to stay home and not go out unless absolutely essential,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “I’m relieved to learn that Gov. Greg Abbott has extended the disaster declaration in order to ensure that our community’s health can strengthen and that El Pasoans will continue to abide by our local Stay Home, Work Safe Order and practice strict social distancing.”
Public health officials continue to advise residents that the stay home order remains in effect and strongly recommend the community to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks. It is urged that the face coverings be cleaned daily. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering.
The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If these symptoms appear and do not improve, the person should contact their healthcare provider or seek medical attention.
The 21-COVID hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***El Paso COVID19 cases now at 269, no new deaths reported on Saturday (4/11/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 17 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 269, the number of deaths remains at two.
Positive cases in El Paso County include 139 females and 130 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 56 patients hospitalized, and 22 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.
“The number of cases has increased and will continue increasing, but we are grateful that we did not have to report any deaths today and we remain hopeful that the community heeds our warnings to please stay home and not go out unless absolutely essential,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, is a day that would typically involve large gatherings at parks or in homes; but we implore the community to heed our warnings and not get together. Even if you think you are healthy, you may still be a carrier and not have symptoms. A complete disregard for the seriousness of this virus might put your loved ones in peril.”

***

***Sun Metro Increases COVID19 Safey Measures (4/11/2020)

Effective Monday, April 13, 2020, Sun Metro will begin strongly encouraging all passengers with mobility devices to schedule rides through LIFT services as an added transportation option and safety measure.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, Sun Metro will continue to adapt and implement stricter security measures for the safety of passengers and operators.

This change is intended to further limit the interaction for all involved in adherence with social distancing requirements as set forth by the CDC.

Fixed-route passengers with mobility devices are encouraged to schedule rides by contacting LIFT services. Registration is not required. As a reminder, rides on both fixed route and LIFT services are free and should be used only for essential travel, such as to purchase groceries or medications, attend medical appointments, or to get to work if they are deemed an essential employee.

LIFT Call-In Services

Passengers MUST contact Sun Metro LIFT Services at least (1) one day before their desired scheduled pick up time through the following options:

  • Customer Service Phone Number –  915-212-0100
  • Customer Service Hours:

Monday through Saturday: 8 a.m.to 5 p.m.

Sunday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Passengers displaying COVID-19 symptoms or who are COVID-19 positive should not ride Sun Metro fixed route. Passengers with disabilities who have COVID-19 symptoms, may call the LIFT for special accommodations.

For more information about Sun Metro, visit sunmetro.net or call (915) 212-3333.

***

***Area records 2nd COVID19 death, positive cases now at 252 (4/10/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting its second COVID-19 death. The female patient was in her 70’s with underlying health conditions.

El Paso is now reporting 27 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 252. Positive cases in El Paso County include 133 females and 119 males; see accompanying graphics and map.

There are now 52 patients who are hospitalized, and 21 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“Today is another somber day for our community, our thoughts and prayers go out to the affected families,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “It is imperative that we stay home as ordered and continue observing social distancing and other preventive measures we have mentioned over and over, such as washing hands, not touching your face and especially social distancing. We know that for young adults, COVID-19 might be a mild disease, but the virus can be transmitted to a vulnerable loved one that may suffer severe complications, including death, from the disease.”

Residents are reminded that the Stay Home, Work Safe orders remain in effect and families who usually gather for the Easter weekend are advised that any gatherings at City and now State parks are strictly prohibited; as are house gatherings with others who do not live in the household.

In order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, all El Pasoans are asked to use social media and internet applications to visit with family and friends virtually.

Public health officials urge residents to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks. It is recommended that the face coverings be cleaned daily. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering.

In order to help determine the number of cases in our area, residents should note that the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms don not improve, the person should contact their healthcare provider or seek medical attention.

***

***EP Poison Center reports increase in calls & cases, Issues Hand Sanitizer, Cleaning Product Warning (4/10/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health is reminding residents of the importance of proper use and handling of hand sanitizing and disinfecting products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the West Texas Regional Poison Center (WTRPC), there has been an increase of about 70 percent to the Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN) that may be attributed to health concerns regarding children accidently ingesting hand sanitizers and cleaning products.

Hand sanitizers most commonly contain high concentrations of ethyl alcohol—between 60 and 70 percent. Young children are more susceptible to the alcohol’s potentially toxic effects. Children may experience dizziness, drowsiness, changes in behavior, and even dangerously low blood sugars if they ingest the hand sanitizer.

“While we continue to advocate for regular thorough hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, and disinfecting products, we also want to make sure residents don’t become complacent in the way they use and store these items in their homes,” said Angela Mora, Assistant Health Director. “We especially want parents to be sure to keep hand sanitizer up and away from their children.”

The use of bleach and other household cleaners to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in a 71 percent increase in cases involving bleach products, and a 63 percent increase in cases involving other household cleaning agents reported to the TPCN during March and April compared to previous years.

These cleaning products should be stored in their original container and away from the grasp of children.

The West Texas Regional Poison Center is available 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222 with specially trained and bilingual nurses, pharmacists, and physicians to help answer questions.

More safety information is available via this CDC link.

***

***El Paso area has first COVID19 death, 225 positive cases according to DPH officials (4/9/2020)

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo announced Thursday afternoon that the area had it’s first COVID19 related death, and the total number of positive cases is now at 225.

The first death, according to the mayor, was a man in his 80’s who was hospitalized.

He also urged residents to use face covers/masks when out, continue social distancing, avoid gatherings and reminded everyone that parks in the city and county are closed.

Health officials also announced specific clusters of cases; where gatherings are now known to have caused positive cases to be discovered.

There is a trend in El Paso where the virus is being spread at gatherings—clusters of people—in their homes as they host parties or visit their friends and families. Health officials are urging the community to adhere to the orders and stay home whenever possible to stop the spread of the virus in our community.
“We are seeing a rapid increase in cases and these clusters are an example of how easy the virus spreads by being in close contact with an infected individual that in some cases can be asymptomatic,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Our community should understand that is everyone’s responsibility to follow the Stay at Home Order and we need to follow all the preventative measures such as handwashing, social distancing and everyone wearing face masks to prevent the situation from worsening.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a high number of COVID-19 transmissions due to clusters of people gathering at family parties, funeral services and other events that do not adhere to their recommendations of social distancing and staying home to prevent the spread of this virus.
“If we as a community do not do something to stop the trend, the numbers will continue to rise,” said El Paso Fire Chief Mario D’Agostino. “Everyone must take individual responsibility and do their part to save lives by following the Stay Home, Work Safe Order.”
Public health officials urge residents to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks. It is recommended that the face coverings be cleaned daily. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering.
The 21-COVID hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral, services contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***El Paso County Sheriff’s Office shares update on facilities, vehicle disinfection (4/9/2020)

The El Paso community continues to prove we are #ElPasoStrong, Sheriff Richard D. Wiles, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Officers Association have received the support of local businesses Air Defense Virus Protection and Althouse Restore that specialize in disinfecting and sanitizing.

These partnerships are invaluable as we continue to carry out our everyday duties to Serve the El Paso Community with Pride, the disinfecting and sanitizing services they have provided ensure our Office can continue operations.

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Air Defense Virus Protection disinfected the lobby, conference room, and several vehicles at Sheriff’s Office Headquarters.

Air Defense offers several solutions and tools to disinfect and sanitize depending on the square footage and composition of an area, to include large open areas.

We will continue to work with Air Defense to do the same at all the patrol stations, patrol units and both detention facilities to rid them of any virus or bacteria.

This week Althouse Restore disinfected and sanitized 170 Patrol Bureau and Detention Bureau vehicles.

 “Althouse Restore has been serving El Paso and Las Cruces for over 30 years in fire and water damage restoration.  The employees are very Pro El Paso and wanted to do something to help our first responders.  Since we had all the proper Personal Protective Equipment and chemicals, we decided to sanitize the police cruisers for the Covid-19 Virus.” – Gregory Althouse

***

***El Paso Department of Public Health announces area COVID19 total at 192  (4/8/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department reported 39 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 192.
Positive cases in El Paso County include 101 females and 91 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 40 patients who are hospitalized, and 12 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“People need to realize that things will continue getting worse in El Paso if they don’t adhere to the Stay Home, Work Safe orders,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “We’ve doubled our cases in five days. If we don’t stay at home, practice social distancing, and wear the recommended face coverings when in public, it is only a matter of time before everyone knows someone who is infected in El Paso. We can prevent this by being proactive in our approach, but it will take all of us.”

In addition to abiding by the Stay Home, Work Safe orders and avoiding any gatherings with anyone outside a person’s immediate household, public health officials continue to urge residents to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. (See: CDC Website)

It is also recommended that the face coverings be cleaned daily. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering.

***

***City, State Parks Closed During Easter Weekend (4/8/2020)

The City of El Paso reminds the public that gathering and picnicking at City or State parks during Easter weekend is not allowed in order to protect family and friends from the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

The Stay Home, Work Safe order remains in place at parks, including City-owned hike and bike trails, playgrounds, basketball courts, dog parks and skate parks until further notice.

Easter weekend is one of the busiest days of the year for parks, but to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect families, residents are not allowed to gather at parks. In addition, at-home gatherings, parties and other group activities that encourage some form of gathering are not permitted.

“Easter weekend is typically a time for our families to come together but we must continue to stay home and maintain social distancing during this time of celebration,” said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. “We will overcome this challenge as a community, and we must all do our part to keep our families and neighbors safe from the spread of the virus. The sooner we suppress the spread, the sooner we can start getting back to normal.”

Law enforcement and code enforcement officers will issue citations to those who do not adhere to the order. In addition, the Parks and Recreation Department has received numerous complaints of people parking outside of McKelligon Canyon and using the road to walk, run or cycle. The use of McKelligon Canyon by the public remains prohibited.

The Stay Home, Work Safe order allows for healthy outdoor activities such as walking, running or biking around neighborhoods provided residents maintain the 6-foot social distancing requirement.

The measures are needed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

For more information about the City of El Paso’s COVID-19 containment efforts, visit www.epstrong.org

***

***Chamizal National Memorial Temporarily Closed (4/8/2020)

Effective immediately, Chamizal National Memorial will be closed to all visitors until further notice in response to guidance from the El Paso County public health department

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are working closely with our partners to support city and countywide efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, based on local public health guidance,” said Chamizal National Memorial Superintendent Gus Sanchez

The NPS encourages people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Chamizal National Memorial, including: the park website and Facebook.

Updates about NPS operations will be posted onlineOfficials will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on their websiteand social media channels. 

***

*** Environmental Services Department Update: COVID-19 Not Transmitted by Mosquitoes (4/8/2020)

As the ongoing effort to prevent spreading COVID-19 in our community continues, the City of El Paso’s Environmental Services Department (ESD) advises residents that presently there is no scientific evidence to suggest mosquitoes spread COVID-19.

“While there is no data suggesting that mosquitoes are carriers of the coronavirus, we want our residents to take precautions this spring to protect themselves from other mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile and the Zika virus,” ESD Director Ellen Smyth said.

The department’s Vector Control Program sets traps and fogs areas throughout the community all year long to prevent mosquito breeding.

Residents can reduce their risk of getting mosquito bites by following these tips:

  • DEET:-Use insect repellents that contain DEET when outdoors
  • DRESS: Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors
  • DUSK and DAWN: Although mosquitoes associated with the Zika virus can be active throughout the day, residents should take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours (from dusk to dawn) or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
  • DRAIN: Drain standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, and birdbaths.

For more information about the City’s Vector Control Program, visit their website or call 3-1-1.

**

To read previous local information/releases, click on the dates below: 

March 3rd thru 9th   |   March 10th through 12th  |  March 13 through 15  |   March 15 thru 19th  |  March 20th thru 24th

March 25th thru 30th   |   March 31st thru April 7th   |

 

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