Friday evening, after the 8th Court of Appeals ruled on the County’s Stay Home Order (number 13), El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego released a statement expressing his disappointment, and clarifying those portions of the order that are still in effect.
Below is the entire text of Judge Samaniego’s statement:
Tonight, we received the final opinion by the 8th Court of Appeals on the County’s Stay Home Order No. 13. To say that I am disappointed with the Court’s ruling would be a huge understatement.
This morning, the El Paso Health Department reported 14 additional deaths and reported 1,488 new Covid-19 cases. El Paso is currently at 53% of Covid-19 hospitalizations and we are still at STAGE 1 on El Paso’s COVID-19 Community Scorecard. Stage 1 is the worst rating on the scorecard. Today, I attended a Fatality Management meeting involving many of our funeral home directors and listened to them discuss the level of death taking place in our community. This only further fuels me to take the necessary steps needed to slow the spread of this virus.
I disagree with both the reasoning and the logic of the Court’s opinion. However, I am so grateful to Justice Yvonne Rodriguez for her dissenting opinion and her recognition of the current health crisis we are facing. What is clear, is that the Court recognizes that I retain the legal authority to issue orders that will protect our community. My message to the community is that we learn from our mistakes and take more precaution. Our situation will surely get drastically worse before they get better if we continue to be careless. The backlog of fatality investigations, the overwhelming percentage of Covid-19 hospitalizations, and the additional impact of the flu season on our already fragile healthcare system, as well as the Thanksgiving Holiday will certainly evolve into creating “the perfect storm”.
Earlier today, I held the first round of meetings with our community’s business leaders and kindly asked for their patience and collaboration to help me establish a truly united effort and meaningful balance between public health and the businesses community. I am committed to diligently working with them so that we can prevent a “Black Friday” that could have disastrous effects.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe it would be fruitful to continue to pursue litigation options, but I wholeheartedly intend to use my legal authority to do everything possible to save as many lives as I can. I’m going to be working with our County Attorney’s Office, schedule additional meetings with the business community, and continue to receive guidance from our health professionals so that we can develop better ways in which we can work together.
To reemphasize the statement that I issued yesterday, the existing Stay Home, Work Safe Order remains in place without the provisions that the appellate court has struck down.
The current Order includes the following measures:
- The limitation on non-essential businesses, with limited exceptions, remains at 50% occupancy;
- All restaurants in the County shall cease all dine-in services by 9:00 PM. After 9:00 PM, restaurants are limited to take out and drive-thru only.
- Gatherings remain limited to no more than 10 people;
- Bars remain closed;
- Masks remain mandatory in public except under very limited situations;
I encourage everyone to click here
to read Justice Rodriguez’s dissent opinion and carefully consider the wisdom of her words. Finally, on behalf of the County, I want our healthcare workers and all those who are on the frontlines to know that we see you and that we care. We know that you are exhausted and overwhelmed. We are forever grateful for your courage and strength in order to save as many lives as you can.