This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from March 3rd thru 9th. (listed most recent on top to oldest on bottom)
For the most recent health developments on COVID-19, please visit our up-to-the-minute page; for official info, click below.
***ARCHIVE CONTENT FOLLOWS***
*** Diocese of El Paso (3/4/2020)
Guidelines for the Diocese of El Paso Response to the Corona Virus via letter from Bishop Mark Seitz
At the time of this writing the corona virus has not been reported in El Paso. The likelihood is that eventually it will. People have asked about the response of the Church of El Paso, so, knowing that preparation is always a prudent step, I would like to offer these guidelines.
Practice Good Personal Hygiene
Firstly, I would like to point out that good hygiene is always appropriate. By covering our mouths when we cough and regularly washing our hands with soap and water we not only protect ourselves but others as well. A Christian should always be concerned about the
well-being of the other and not simply self preservation.
Perhaps the most important step we can take is to stay out of circulation when we believe we may have an illness that is contagious. I hope that you consider Sunday Mass to be one of the most important obligations of your life. To worship God and to be nourished by Him is at the very foundation of our Christian life.
However, it is a violation of the Christian charity you owe to yourself and others to go to work, school or church when you are contagious. Go to the doctor, if needed. Stay home and take care of yourself. Wear a mask if you must go out while you are sick.
Know that in taking these measures you are doing the will of God.
Guidelines for Church Activities and Our Catholic Schools
At this point, since there is no corona virus detected in our community we will be reminding parish communities, and our Catholic School Communities to take measures that are always advisable: asking people and students not to come to services or school if they are sick, making hand sanitizer readily available, reminding priests and Eucharistic Ministers to frequently wash their hands. (I would ask that using hand sanitizer be done in discreet ways to avoid creating a distracting “Sanitizer Ritual” before Communion.)
As situations develop the Diocese will consider measures that may be prudently indicated by circumstances. These could range from changing some rites of the Mass to avoid personal contact among worshippers, to asking everyone to receive the host on the hand, to suspending the option of receiving from the chalice.
The most extreme measure would be to suspend the public celebration of the Mass. Once again, none of these measures appear to be necessary at the present time.
Never Underestimate the Value of Prayer for Victims and Those Who Serve
Of course the best weapon we have to meet these unsettling threats is prayer. I would urge you to pray fervently for the speedy recovery of all who have been impacted by this new virus. Pray also for healthcare workers. It is at times like this that we realize that their work is far more than a money-making job. They are doing a task that is very close to the heart of Jesus.
Whether their faith allows them to recognize it or not, they are carrying on His healing ministry in the world. Health care workers do so with great dedication that goes far beyond the minimum required. Frequently we will find them there on the front lines along with first responders.
They often do so even when their own life and health is at risk. We should thank them often and assure them of our prayers.
Another group to whom we should be grateful are our clergy and religious. If an epidemic or other disaster strikes you can count on them not to turn and run the other way.
As we witnessed on August 3rd of last year with the Walmart shootings, they will seek out those in need and bring the help and consolation that only God can bring. This is what priests and women and men Religious do. It is the call we have received from our Master who laid down his life for us.
I am confident that all of us members of the family of God will care for one another. It is what we do.
Add My Parish App
I would encourage all members of the Church of El Paso to add MyParishApp to your phones. This will give your parish and me a way to communicate quickly and directly as this situation unfolds. To join you can go to your app store or text 88202.
In this moment and in all the challenging experiences of our lives listen to the reassuring voice of Jesus saying, “Do not be afraid.” I trust that in the face of these and other threats we, the Catholic community of El Paso will be drawn even closer together, bonded by the self-giving love of Christ.
***NMSU implements prevention plans, advises students, faculty on spring break travel
New Mexico State University is closely monitoring the situation involving the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is following the guidance of the New Mexico Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the current risk of acquiring COVID-19 in the United States is very low, and NMDOH reports no confirmed cases in New Mexico, the university will follow these agencies’ recommendations as the situation evolves.
“This is the height of the cold and flu season here, so we are asking employees who are sick not to report to work and to avoid contact with others,” said Katrina Doolittle, executive director of NMSU’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety. “If employees have any concerns about COVID-19, we advise them to contact their doctor for evaluation. Employees who have been sick with any communicable disease should be fully recovered before returning to work.”
In the meantime, NMSU has implemented its communicable disease prevention plan, which includes a webpage on the Aggie Health and Wellness Center site with information and actions to take to protect your health.
Lori McKee, NMSU executive director of Health and Wellness, sent a letter out to the NMSU system to update students, faculty and staff and keep them apprised of the constantly changing situation involving COVID-19.
“We have had a communicable disease prevention committee in place since 2009, during the H1N1 pandemic,” said McKee. “Our mitigation and planning strategies in that plan are well-suited to help us protect our community against coronavirus.”
Although the NMDOH has reported no cases of coronavirus in the state, all those seeking care at the Aggie Health and Wellness Center are being asked about recent travel and contact with persons with known COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is highly contagious,” said Dr. Judi Voelz, NMSU medical director. “First call your local health care provider to avoid exposing others to illness. If your symptoms are severe, your health care provider will be able to further direct you. Testing cannot be done at the Aggie Health and Wellness Center or your local urgent care clinics. It can only be done through coordination with the New Mexico Department of Health and the state laboratories.”
Because of COVID-19’s potential to disrupt international travel during NMSU’s upcoming Spring Break, March 23-27, international students and those traveling outside of the U.S. are urged to visit the Aggie Health and Wellness Center’s coronavirus page for updated information.
NMSU faculty have been asked to continue the process of obtaining approval through the provost’s office for all professional travel outside the country.
NMSU is actively working to plan and prepare for a potential outbreak by meeting with partners across the university, and coordinating with NMDOH and local hospitals.
*** Cornyn Announces Reimbursement Funds Available for Texas Communities Providing Coronavirus Care
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced today that Congress’ emergency funding legislation to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will include resources available for reimbursements for state and local governments that have provided care to individuals who are being evaluated and, in some cases, treated for the virus.
“Texas, and in particular San Antonio, was called upon to provide care for potential patients because of our top-notch healthcare facilities, military resources, and highly skilled medical professionals,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I’m grateful to my colleagues who I worked with to ensure $950 million is available for reimbursement for the costs Texas and states across the country have incurred while monitoring and treating these individuals.”
*** El Paso Department of Public Health (3/3/2020)
Public Health Laboratory Ready to Test for Coronavirus Locally
The Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today that its laboratory can now test respiratory samples for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 here in El Paso.
“Our ability to test for COVID-19 here in El Paso will greatly reduce the turnaround time to get results for a patient. If we ship out samples, it will take up to 72 hours to receive results, but testing here will shorten that time to as little as four hours,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director.
The Public Health Laboratory in El Paso is one of only 120 domestic laboratories that is part of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there are still no cases of COVID-19 in El Paso, DPH continues to work hand in hand with other state, local, and federal officials in a united front against this disease.
According to the CDC, the LRN is charged with the task of maintaining this integrated network of laboratories that can respond to bioterrorism, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies.
Health officials in El Paso stress that as a Biosafety Level-3 laboratory, the Public Health Laboratory is well equipped to handle samples with proper measures in place to protect Medical Laboratory Scientists as well as the community. They say the Department of Public Health has already dealt with other new diseases including Ebola and Zika virus.
“As an LRN Laboratory, we are proud to have the confidence of the CDC to be given immediate access to Emergency Use Authorization testing for the City of El Paso,” said Darlene Tarango, Laboratory Manager. “The community can rest assured we are on the forefront of protecting their health and safety.”
DPH Officials continue to stress individual prevention strategies against infection including practicing the 4 C’s. This includes COVERING your cough and sneezes, CLEANING your hands often by practicing good handwashing techniques, CONTAINING the spread of disease by staying home if you are sick, and CALLING your health care provider if you are ill and experiencing flu-like symptoms with a high fever.
El Paso Department of Public Health
The Department of Public Health (DPH) has been working for several weeks monitoring and preparing for any local cases of COVID-19. There are currently no known cases of the disease within a 500-mile radius of our area. (link to full story)
As part of our mission to develop, promote and maintain a safe, healthy learning and working environment for the students, faculty, staff and visitors at The University of Texas at El Paso, UTEP is closely monitoring the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) through trusted authorities including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State, World Health Organization, International SOS, Texas Department of State Health Services, and El Paso City Health Department.
UTEP officials continue to monitor developments connected to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and are following guidance from UT System in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State, International SOS and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in El Paso County. CBC News in Canada has produced an informational video that you may wish to watch to learn more about this virus.
El Paso Community College
“EPCC is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” college officials shared via a statement on their website. “As always, EPCC will follow the guidance of local, regional and national health authorities.”
“Currently, there are not any known cases of COVID-19 at EPCC or in El Paso County,” officials added. (link to full story)
El Paso ISD
EPISD continues to work with local, state and federal health officials in monitoring and responding to the recent health issues surrounding the coronavirus.
The health of students and employees is a top priority for the District and our health officials are in communication with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While health officials believe the risk to schools in our area is low, EPISD wants to reassure the El Paso community that the matter is being monitored closely.
The District is currently following the recommendations from health officials to protect against coronavirus in the same way the District protects against the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu. This includes extensive treatment using systems like GermBlast and EMIST — two services that spray solutions aimed at disinfecting campuses and offices.
Parents are urged to talk to their children about coronavirus and what they can do to prevent infection. The information below is from the city’s public health department:
How do people become infected with coronavirus?
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
- Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands; and
- Rarely, fecal contamination.
Patients with confirmed coronavirus infections have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath and fever.
How can I avoid coronavirus infection?
The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to the virus, which are similar to the precautions to avoid exposure to the flu. CDC recommends these every-day actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eye, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Socorro ISD is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). As always, Socorro ISD will follow the guidance of local, regional and national health authorities. Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Socorro ISD or in El Paso County.
The health and safety of Socorro ISD students, faculty and staff are of utmost importance and our campus community should take the following everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
• Practice good hand hygiene, including washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Follow appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette.
• Stay home, rest and avoid close contact with others when you are sick or with fever.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Socorro ISD will remain vigilant of this situation as it changes and is prepared to act in a timely manner. The campus community should consult the CDC and City of El Paso Public Health Department for the most recent COVID-19 information.
Socorro ISD updates impacting students, faculty and staff will be announced via www.sisd.net and via social media.
Canutillo ISD is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). As always, Canutillo ISD will follow the guidance of local, regional and national health authorities. Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Canutillo ISD or in El Paso County. The health and safety of Canutillo ISD students, faculty and staff are of utmost importance and our campus community should take the following everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- Practice good hand hygiene, including washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Follow appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette
- Stay home, rest and avoid close contact with others when you are sick or with fever
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
Canutillo ISD will remain vigilant of this situation as it changes and is prepared to act in a timely manner. The campus community should consult the CDC and City of El Paso Public Health Department for the most recent COVID-19 information. Canutillo ISD updates impacting students, faculty and staff will be announced via www.canutillo-isd.org and via social media.