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Home | Tag Archives: corona in el paso

Tag Archives: corona in el paso

DPH Tuesday: 7642 Total COVID-19 cases, Four deaths raises toll to 139; Recoveries at 4682 with 2821 active cases; EPFH Food Bank new guidelines, hours for food distribution

This story will be updated as new information arrives from area government offices, school districts, and other organizations regarding their Coronavirus (COVID-19) preparations and guidelines.

City Resources & FAQ  |   Direct link to ALL city closures  |  Department of Health Information site

***(7/7/2020)

Tuesday morning, via their website, officials with the El Paso Department of Health reported 181 new COVID-19 bringing the total in the El Paso area to 7,642.

Four more deaths were announced as well, bringing that total to 139. No other details were released regarding the patients.

To date, 4,682 residents have recovered from the virus and active cases continue to increase to 2,821.

There are 246 persons currently hospitalized, with 71 in ICU and 29 on ventilators

The public is reminded that even infected persons with little to no symptoms can spread the virus to others and ​the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/6/2020)

Officials with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank announced Monday two changes for their food distribution sites.

In order to comply with the statewide issued mask mandate made by Governor Abbott, anyone receiving food assistance at any of the mega distribution sites or mobile pantries MUST wear a mask and vinyl gloves in order to receive food.

In addition, the hours of operation at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank of 9am – 3 pm, Mon. – Fri. and 9am – 5pm Saturday, will be observed.

For more information on EPFH Food Bank, visit their website or Facebook page.

***(7/6/2020)

On Monday, El Paso Department of Health officials reported 248 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 7,461. The total number of deaths remains at 135.

To date, 4,546 residents have recovered from the virus and active cases continue to increase to 2,780.

There are 218 persons currently hospitalized, with 70 in ICU and 28 on ventilators.

The public is reminded that even infected persons with little to no symptoms can spread the virus to others and ​the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***(7/5/2020)

Due to the robust response from the community, the testing sites operated by the Texas Military Department are at or near testing capacity for July 6.

Residents are strongly encouraged to schedule appointments, with the exception of the Hybrid Drive/Walk-up site at Nations Tobin Park, which does not require appointments.

Appointments are only available 24 hours in advance. Only those with appointments will be able to get tested tomorrow.

Residents planning to show up early in hopes of getting tested will be asked to schedule an appointment and will not be able to be tested tomorrow; again, with the exception of the hybrid testing site.

“Testing is essential to helping our community identify those residents who are ill, cared for and need to be isolated in order to reduce the spread of this virus,” said Office of Emergency Management Coordinator, Assistant Fire Chief Jorge Rodriguez. “Because testing is so important, we have been working to increase the locations and partnerships to address the community’s high demand for testing. We thank the community for their patience and understanding as we work to increase accessibility to testing in our community.”

The public can still schedule appointments for future dates at the City of El Paso sites.

Additionally, testing is available at the following sites:

  1. Anthony/Canutillo ISD
  2. Walmart
  3. CVS
  4. Project Vida

Full details via this link.

***

***(7/5/2020)

Sunday morning, El Paso Department of Health officials reported 260 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the region’s total to 7,213.

To date, 4,447 residents have recovered from the virus and active cases increased to 2,631.

There are no additional deaths to report, so that total remains at 135.

According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 89,100 tests.

There are 211 persons currently hospitalized, with 71 in ICU and 30 on ventilators

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/4/2020)

Saturday morning, El Paso Department of Health officials reported 288 new COVID-19 cases, bringing our total to 6,953.

Public Health staff have advised that initial reports indicate that these increases over the last several days appear to be primarily due to community spread.

There are no additional deaths to report today, so that total remains at 135.

There are 4362 recovered cases in the area, with 2456 active cases.   According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 84,900 tests.

There are 200 persons currently hospitalized, with 71 in ICU and 27 on ventilators

The public is reminded that even infected persons with little to no symptoms can spread the virus to others and ​the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/3/2020)

Friday morning, officials with the El Paso Department of Health announced 276 new cases of COVID-19 in the area, bringing the overall total to 6665.

Additionally, DPH officials said three more deaths had been reported, bringing that total to 135

All of the patients had underlying health conditions. They include:

·        2  males in their 80s

·        1 female in her 90s

There are 4227 recovered cases in the area, with 2303 active cases.   According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 82,400 tests.

There are 193 persons currently hospitalized, with 69 in ICU and 25 on ventilators

Anyone with health questions about COVID-19 can call the 21-COVID hotline (915) 212-6843, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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

***

***(7/2/2020)

The City of El Paso has amended the Local Emergency Directive in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order issued today, Thursday, July 2, 2020 mandating face coverings, stating that COVID-19 poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas.

Every person in Texas is mandated to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public. They must also wear a face covering when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.

“As positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the Governor’s recent order reaffirms the importance of face coverings in slowing the spread of this virus,” said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. “This holiday weekend, let us think of our community, and remain vigilant in covering our faces, washing our hands frequently and practice social distancing.”​

The face-covering requirement does not apply to the following:

  • Persons younger than 2 years of age
  • Persons with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering
  • While consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink
  • While exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household
  • While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver
  • Persons obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face
  • While in a swimming pool, lake or similar body of water
  • While voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election (but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged)
  • While actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship (but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged)
  • While giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience

Face coverings are required for any person attending a protest or demonstration involving more than 10 people, and when unable to practice six-feet of social distancing from other people not in the same household.

To report non-compliance, call El Paso Police Department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400. Any violation after a warning of the individual face-covering requirement, of the amended Local Emergency Directive is punishable by a fine not to exceed $250.

While face coverings are now mandated by the State, wearing a face covering should not be seen as a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.

Businesses remain responsible for complying with Health & Safety Policy provisions of the Local Emergency Directive.

Additionally, parades must limit the number of participants to 10 individuals or less, unless prior approval from the Mayor is obtained, and are required to follow the Local Public Health Authority Order regarding parades, which is found at http://epstrong.org/health-orders.php.

The City’s amended directive also prohibits outdoor gathering in excess of 10 people unless prior approval from the Mayor is obtained.

The updated Local Directive once completed and executed will be made available at www.epstrong.org under “Health Orders.” Anyone with questions about the Local Emergency Directive can call 3-1-1.

The public is reminded that even infected persons with little to no symptoms can spread the virus to others and ​the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/2/2020)

The Texas Military Department Mobile Testing Team (TMD-MTT) will continue COVID-19 testing through July 13 at four drive-thru sites, one hybrid drive/walk-up site and various rural drive-thru sites within the El Paso City-County.

At the ongoing request of El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and the Office of Emergency Management, the Office of the Governor and the Texas Department of Emergency Management once again agreed to extend the testing in El Paso County.

With the exception of the hybrid site, the TMD-MTT testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. TMD-MTT has moved its online testing scheduling to a new Curative Testing website.  Additionally, the TMD-MTT expects to connect a new appointment phone line next week to help schedule testing appointments.

If residents do not have online access to make an appointment, they can still show up at the site to be tested if appointments are available on the same day or the following. Please note that residents are encouraged to make an appointment online to prevent slowing down the process.

All of the testing sites will now administer oral swabbing tests, instead of the nasal swabs. Testing is free and available to members of the community with or without COVID-19 symptoms.

The Hybrid Drive/Walk-up Site is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for patients on foot or in a vehicle during the following dates and location. No appointment is needed for the hybrid site; however, once the daily capacity of 250 is met the site will be closed for the day to additional testing.

  • July 3; July 6-11; July 13:

Nations Tobin Recreation Center; 8831 Railroad Dr., El Paso, TX

Testing within the City of El Paso is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (unless indicated differently) on the following dates and locations:

  • July 3, 5 and 12

Note: Testing on July 5 and July 12 will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

o   Pavo Real Center; 9301 Alameda, El Paso, TX

o   Marty Robbins Recreation Center; 11620 Vista Del Sol, El Paso, TX

o   Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

o   Haskins Recreation Center; 7400 High Ridge, El Paso, TX

  • July 6, 8, 10 and 13

o   Pavo Real Center; 9301 Alameda, El Paso, TX

o   Haskins Recreation Center; 7400 High Ridge, El Paso, TX

  • July 7, 9 and 11

o   Marty Robbins Recreation Center; 11620 Vista Del Sol, El Paso, TX

o   Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

Testing in the rural county areas is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

  • Monday, July 6:

Montana Vista Fire Station #1; 13978 Montana Ave., El Paso, TX

  • Tuesday, July 7:

West Valley Fire Station; 510 Vinton Road, Vinton, TX

  • Wednesday, July 8:

Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo; 11200 Santos Sanchez Blvd., Socorro, TX

  • Thursday, July 9:

El Paso County ESD #2 District Office; 16001 Socorro Rd., Fabens, TX

  • Friday, July 10:

El Paso County ESD #2 Fire Station; 11440 N. Loop, Socorro, TX

  • Saturday, July 11:

Montana Vista Fire Station #1; 13978 Montana Ave., El Paso, TX

  • Monday, July 13:

Horizon First Baptist Church; 17018 Darrington Road, Horizon City, TX

For more information about the various public and private testing locations throughout the community click here or visit www.EPStrong.org.

***

***(7/2/2020)

Today the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting one (1) death and 265 new COVID-19 positive cases.

The death was a female in her 80s with underlying health conditions bringing the total number of deaths to 132.

Officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health reported an increase of 265 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 6389.

The death was a female in her 80s with underlying health conditions bringing the total number of deaths to 132.

There are 4034 recovered cases in the area, with 2223 active cases.   According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 79,700 tests.  There are 180 persons currently hospitalized, with 74 in ICU and 30 on ventilators

Health officials advised they are investigating the latest increase, and initial reports indicate the majority are likely owing to community spread. However, portions of the spike appear to be due in part to additional cases among existing clusters in a detention facility and an elderly care facility.

“The consistent jump in positive cases lately is alarming, and calls for everybody to once again devote themselves to strictly practice the recommended safety precautions to slow the spread in our community,” said City-County Local Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “While the Fourth of July is fast approaching we want to remind the community that social gatherings of more than ten people are prohibited. Again, I ask you to limit going out, but if you must go out please practice social distancing, wear a face cover, frequently wash your hands with soap and water and if you’re feeling even mildly under the weather stay home.”

The City’s epidemiology team, including contact tracing, conduct ongoing investigations in an effort to stop the spread from those currently and potentially infected, and to inform the public about other public health prevention measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The community also is reminded that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Additionally, it is estimated that more than 20 percent of the total positive cases are asymptomatic, meaning the COVID-19 positive individuals showed no symptoms and, if they did not following preventive measures may have infected those around them.

At this time, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to this virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the virus mainly spreads via person-to-person contact:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet);
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks;
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/1/2020)

On Wednesday, the El Paso Department of Public Health officials reported an increase of 196 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 6124.

Officials report one (1) additional death, a male in his 60s with underlying health conditions, bringing that total to 131.

There are 3,908 recovered cases in the area, with 2085 active cases.   According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 77,200 tests.

There are 177 persons currently hospitalized, with 70 in ICU and 29 on ventilators

Anyone with health questions about COVID-19 can call the 21-COVID hotline (915) 212-6843, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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

***

***(6/30/2020) County Judge bans firework sales, use starting Friday; Immediately bans all public outdoor gatherings

The information below is directly from the El Paso County Judge’s Release:

In order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, El Paso County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego issued Order No. 10, which prohibits all public outdoor gatherings in the unincorporated areas of El Paso County until after the Fourth of July weekend.

This Order is effective immediately and shall be in effect until 6 a.m. on Monday, July 6, 2020-after the Fourth of July weekend. This order is issued in accordance with authority granted to the Judge by the Governor.

Additionally, because drought conditions present high risk of wildfires, the Judge will issue a disaster declaration preventing the sale and use of fireworks effective beginning Friday, July 3.

“It is critical that we all do our part to keep our community safe,” said Judge Samaniego. “While fireworks and Fourth of July festivities are a part of who we are as a community, we must remember the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic, and that cases in our community and in the state are continuing to rise. For these reasons, I believe we must be especially prudent. Congregating this Fourth of July is simply a public health concern.”

Order No. 10, prohibiting gatherings on Fourth of July:

Pursuant to Governor Greg Abbott’s latest executive order issued Friday (GA-28), outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments.  Consistent with this order, Order No. 10 prohibits all public outdoor gatherings in the unincorporated areas of El Paso County immediately and until after the Fourth of July weekend.

Judge Samaniego consulted with both the Fire Marshall and Dr. Hector Ocaranza, who all expect that, as in years past, Fourth of July weekend celebrations in various unincorporated areas in El Paso County will attract hundreds and thousands of people. Dr. Ocaranza agrees that these gatherings will likely result in dramatic increases in COVID-19 positive cases and deaths.

A violation of this order shall be a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500.

Disaster declaration prohibiting sale and use of fireworks:

Pursuant to the Local Government Code, to be able to restrict fireworks, Texas counties must reach 575 on the Keetch Byram Drought Index (KBDI), a statewide 0-to-800 scale drought index that is updated daily by the Texas A&M Forest Service. The higher the number on the scale, the worse the drought conditions in a given county.

Today, El Paso County’s KBDI is at 583, indicating that hot and dry conditions pose a threat of large, dangerous, and fast moving wildfires. The Forest Service in fact rates El Paso County as having “extreme” fire risk today. Additionally, the National Weather Service reports that hot, dry and breezy conditions have created “red flag” fire weather forsouthern New Mexico and Far West Texas. Wildfires have the potential of endangering lives and damaging property on a large scale.

To mitigate the risk of wildfires caused by fireworks, Judge Samaniego will issue a disaster declaration that will ban both the sale and use of all fireworks.

The ban will run from Friday July 3 at 12 p.m. and will expire Sunday July 5 at 11:59 p.m.

This disaster declaration will be issued today.

Second amendment to Order No. 9, conforming County local order with Governor’s executive order:

Judge Samaniego also issued today a Second Amendment to Order No. 9, which incorporates the Governor’s order that was issued Friday. In addition to requiring that outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments, order No. 9 provides:

  • All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages must remain closed. These businesses may remain open only for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
  • Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50 percent of their total listed indoor occupancy, beginning today.

Click Here [r20.rs6.net] or visit stayhomeworksafe.epcounty.com to view these orders.

STAMPED 2020_fireworks ban_disaster declaration_Final

***

***(6/30/2020)

Tuesday, the El Paso Department of Public Health officials reported an increase of 183 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 5928.

Additionally, officials reported two (2) deaths, a male in his 40s and a male in his 80s both with underlying health conditions.

There are 3,800 recovered cases in the area, with 1998 active cases.   According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 73,500 tests.

There are 160 persons currently hospitalized, with 69 in ICU and 31 on ventilators

Anyone with health questions about COVID-19 can call the 21-COVID hotline (915) 212-6843, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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

***

***(6/29/2020) City Amends Local Emergency Directive, County makes changes as well

City and county officials have issued changes to local directives, effective Monday.

Via a Monday afternoon news conference Mayor Dee Margo announced a Second Amendment to the Fourth Local Emergency Directive in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s most recent Executive Orders.

“The City of El Paso will continue to work to protect our public health and our local economy, from further damage as a result of COVID-19,” said Mayor Dee Margo.

“We must continue to follow the necessary measures to protect ourselves and our fellow El Pasoans by wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, and washing hands frequently. We will persevere in the face of adversity, as we’ve always done, but we need the community to do their part.”

The Directive will be amended to:

  • Prohibit the public from visiting nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless as determined through guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC);
  • Limit organizations planning on having parades to 100 participants or less, unless prior approval from the Mayor is obtained, and require compliance with the Local Public Health Authority Order regarding parades which is found at this link;
  • Prohibit outdoor gatherings in excess of 100 people unless prior approval from the Mayor is obtained subject to certain conditions or restrictions. This provision does not apply to activities or gatherings that are allowed by the Governor’s Executive Order GA-28;
  • Require outdoor markets, parades, and outdoor mass gatherings, comprised of less than 100 participants to follow the respective Local Health Authority Order found online;
  • Restrict dine-in services by restaurants that have less than 51 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages, to operate at up to 50 percent of the total listed occupancy of the restaurant beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 29, 2020;
  • Prohibit the public from visiting bars or similar establishments that hold a permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and are not restaurants as defined in the Directive;

o    However, bars or similar establishments may continue to provide drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options for food and drinks, to the extent authorized by TABC.

Additionally, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced that he was banning the sales and use of fireworks throughout the county.

Samaniego said he discussed the issue with County Commissioners, and the decision was made, due to a combination of the county meeting drought conditions and concerns over COVID-19.

“We are restricting the gathering for fireworks, that’s separate from the order that we have which is the drought index…which allows me as the County Judge to have an emergency not to allow and to ban fireworks at this time,” Samaniego said. “I did have a discussion with commissioners…Commissioners Stout, Commissioner Leon and myself having the discussion that we had no option but to ban fireworks at this time.”

The County Judge’s order bans both the sales and use of fireworks, as well as all public outdoor gatherings in the unincorporated areas in El Paso County through Monday, July 6th.

According to the order, violation of the ban is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 and will be enforced by “any peace officer, including, but not limited to, officers of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the El Paso Police Department, and the Fire Marshal’s Office.”

“We recognize the community’s desire to return back to normal, but as we have reported over the last several days our cases are not decreasing and so we must be cautious in our approach to make sure we are caring for ourselves and for our most vulnerable,” said City-County Local Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza.

“Again, we want to implore everyone to please help us slow the spread of this terrible disease by practicing social distancing, frequently washing their hands with soap and water and wearing a face covering.”

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

062920 Local Directive
County Judge Order No 10 - Fourth of July restrictions

***(6/29/2020) Neon Desert Music Festival cancelled for 2020, will return in 2021.

Officials with the the yearly event announced Monday afternoon that the 10th Anniversary edition, once rescheduled for this fall has been cancelled.

Below is their official statement:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***(6/29/2020)

Monday morning, El Paso Department of Public Health officials reported an increase of 131 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 5745.

Officials also reported one new death, a woman in her 60s, bringing that total to 128; DPH officials said the woman had underlying health conditions

As of Monday, there are 3,685 recovered cases in the area, with 1932 active cases.   According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 71,100 tests.

There are 149 persons currently hospitalized, with 64 in ICU and 28 on ventilators.

Anyone with health questions about COVID-19 can call the 21-COVID hotline (915) 212-6843, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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

***

***(6/28/2020)

Today the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 284 new COVID-19 cases, the largest spike since the introduction of the virus to the community.

There are now 5614 total cases of COVID-19 in the El Paso area; officials added that no new deaths were reported, so that total remains at 127.

As of Sunday, there are 3,654 recovered cases in the area, with 1833 active cases.   According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 69,300 tests.

Currently, there are 147 patients hospitalized, with 68 in ICU and 25 on ventilators.

Health officials advised the increase appears to be due in part to clusters in an elderly care facility and a detention facility. However, officials report the majority of today’s increase is likely owing to community spread. DPH officials are working to provide the public more details about these clusters and spikes in the coming days.

“This jump in positive cases is incredibly concerning, and calls for a renewed focus by each person to be stricter towards taking care of themselves and their loved ones,” said City-County Local Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “While we are still investigating the details behind the cause of the spikes recorded over the last week; we’ve seen a trend in cases among those in their teens, 20s and 30s and likely a haphazard approach to health prevention. Collectively, more than 40 percent of our positive cases are individuals in their 20s and 30s. However, the larger concern is that these individuals may be in contact with at-risk family members who are vulnerable and may become the next COVID-19 fatality.”

The City’s epidemiology team is conducting ongoing investigations in an effort to determine possible spread of infection and implement measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19; and health officials remind the public that they need the community’s cooperation to lower the infection rate.

While City and County officials are working to amend the local Directive—of which several have already gone into effect—health officials said these stricter orders along with social awareness among all residents to follow recommended preventive behaviors are expected to help the overall health of our community.

The public is reminded that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Additionally, it is estimated that more than 20 percent of the total positive cases are asymptomatic, meaning the patients reported showing no COVID-19 symptoms.

At this time, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to this virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the virus mainly spreads via person-to-person contact:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet);
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks;
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(6/27/2020)

Saturday morning, officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health announced 113 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 5330.

DPH also reported an additional COVID-19 death, raising the total to 127.

The patient, a man in his 90s, had underlying health conditions.

There are now 3613 recovered cases, with 1590 active cases reported in the area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 67,600 tests.

Currently, there are 121 patients hospitalized, with 63 in ICU and 21 on ventilators.

Anyone with health questions about COVID-19 can call the 21-COVID hotline (915) 212-6843, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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

***

***(6/26/2020)

Friday, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reports one (1) additional COVID-19 death and 233 new COVID-19 cases, the largest spike the community has seen to date.

The death is a male in his 50s with underlying health conditions; bringing the total number of deaths to 126. The cumulative number of positive cases now stands at 5,217, of which 3,550 have recovered. There are 1,541 active cases.

“We continue to be saddened by the ongoing loss of lives, and send our deepest condolences to this gentleman’s family,” said City-County Local Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “We are also alarmed by the spike in new cases seen over the last several days. We are still investigating these spikes to get a more comprehensive understanding of the source of exposure. Initial reports indicate there are at least three clusters in the latest spike.”

Health officials said the three clusters appear to be in an elderly care facility, a detention facility and a healthcare facility; and are working to provide the public more details about these clusters in the coming days.

The epidemiology team conducts investigations, including contact tracing, to determine an individuals’ condition and immediate needs, to provide isolation orders and guidance, and to identify those potentially exposed contacts and the need for quarantine and/or testing. Contact tracing is conducted as an effort to determine possible spread of infection and implement measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. The investigation can lead to identifying clusters of people who might be infected within the same location.

“The faster the infected individuals are identified and isolated, the better chance we have to reduce and control the spread,” Ocaranza said. “However, we need the public’s cooperation to do their part, heed our warnings and help reduce the risk of infection that might lead to more deaths and families left without a loved one.”

The other significant concern is an increasing number of positive cases within 20 and 30 year olds. Early reports suggest that these two age groups appear to have contracted the virus while out in public and not taking the proper safety precautions to include practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing with soap and water and wearing a face covering.

The public is once again reminded that even infected persons with little to no symptoms can spread the virus to others; everyone must hold himself or herself accountable and work to protect each other. For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

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  |  April 8th thru 21st  |  April 22nd thru 30th  |  May 1st thru 15th

May 16th thru May 31st   |   June 1st thru June 25th

El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from May 1st thru May 15th

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from May 1st through May 15th.

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***

***(5/15/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting two (2) additional COVID-19 deaths for a total number of 45. Both patients with underlying health conditions are females in their 70s.

El Paso is also reporting 48 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,655. To-date 819 people have recovered from COVID-19; meaning there are 791 active cases within the county. (See  graphics and map for additional data points)

As additional testing resources have been reported, testing has increased in our community with more than 2,200 people tested on Wednesday and Thursday at one of the various testing facilities currently operational with the community. Cumulatively, approximately 17,100 tests have been performed within the county.

This week Governor Greg Abbott ordered local communities to tests all licensed nursing home residents and staff, with the support from local fire departments.

Prior to the state’s orders, testing of nursing homes had already begun by DPH and the Border Regional Advisory Council (BorderRAC). The DPH and BorderRAC is currently working in collaboration with the El Paso Fire Department to administer testing to more than 20 licensed nursing facilities within El Paso.

In addition to testing the staff and residents of each facility, staff are also assessing the overall nursing facilities, reviewing the COVID-19 safety protocols and processes and providing best practices as outlined by local, state and federal orders.

Members of the community who are interested in getting tested are able to learn more about the available testing throughout the county by clicking here.

The public is reminded that even infected persons with little to no symptoms can spread the virus to others. Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions.

***

***(5/14/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting two (2) additional COVID-19 deaths for a total number of 43. The patients with underlying health conditions include a male in his 50s and a female in her 60s.

El Paso is also reporting 151 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,607. To-date 793 people have recovered from COVID-19; meaning there are 771 active cases within the county.

See accompanying graphics and map for additional data points.

“We once again are disappointed to report two new deaths due to COVID-19, and our hearts go out to the families of these two community members. We must remember that all of these deaths are not just numbers, they are someone’s loved one and part of a family,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Today, we have seen a dramatic spike in positive cases, this is due in large part to the increased testing throughout the county. The spike also means that this virus is still very active in our community and so I must once again stress—as I always do—the need for everyone to take the necessary health precautions by practicing social distancing, wearing a face cover, thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water to keep you and your loved ones safe.”

Mayor Dee Margo and the Office of Emergency Management addressed the need to increase testing in our community with the Office of the Texas Governor. The state afforded El Paso additional testing site supported by the Texas Military Department Mobile Testing Team (TMD-MTT) which increased access to COVID-19 testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals within neighborhoods.

It is estimated that as of today more than 15,700 tests have been performed within the county, of those near 1,000 tests were conducted by TMD-MTT during the initial three days of testing, which began testing on Monday, May 11.

The TMD-MTT supported sites will continue tomorrow, Friday, May 15 through Saturday, May 23, at the four City facilities due to the high demand. The locations are:

  • Armijo Recreation Center and Pool; 710 E 7th Ave, El Paso, TX
  • Nations Tobin Park; 8831 Railroad Dr., El Paso, TX
  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills Blvd, El Paso, TX
  • Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

Testing is free and available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. Citizens are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online at WWW.TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or by calling 512-883-2400.

Testing is available to members of the community with or without COVID-19 symptoms. Although not required for testing, signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, body aches, muscle or joint pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion, and loss of taste and/or smell.

Testing in the rural communities also has been extended. Testing is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

May 19:

  • Montana Vista Fire Station #2; 5411 Paso View Drive, El Paso, TX 79938
  • Emergency Service District #2, 11440 N. Loop Drive, Socorro, TX 79927

May 20:

  • El Paso County ESD #2 District Office; 16001 Socorro Road, Fabens, TX 79838
  • West Valley Fire Department; 510 Vinton Road, Anthony, TX 79821

May 21:

  • Horizon First Baptist Church; 17018 Darrington Road, Horizon City, TX 79928
  • Emergency Service District #2; 11440 N. Loop, Socorro, TX 79927

May 22:

  • Horizon First Baptist Church; 17018 Darrington Road, Horizon City, TX 79928

Similarly to the testing locations within the City, the rural locations are by appointment only. Citizens are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online at WWW.TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or by calling 512-883-2400.

Infected persons who have few or no symptoms can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions.

***

***(5/13/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting five (5) additional COVID-19 deaths for a total number of 41.

The patients, all of whom had underlying health conditions, include:

  • two males in their 70s,
  • a male in his 50s,
  • a female in her 40s, and
  • a female in her 70s.

El Paso is also reporting 43 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,456. To-date 751 people have recovered from COVID-19; meaning there are 664 active cases within the county.

“It is with a heavy heart that we are once again reporting a spike in COVID-19 deaths with the loss of five members of our community. We send our very deepest condolences to their loved ones,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “One of the trends that we are seeing is that COVID-19 is gravely affecting those who are diabetic, have high blood pressure and/or have heart disease. If you or a loved one have these underlying health conditions, I urge you to take the necessary health precautions by practicing social distancing, wearing a face cover, thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water.”

Today, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the federal government has extended El Paso’s existing community-based testing site through June 30, 2020. Mayor Dee Margo and the Office of Emergency Management have been working with the Office of the Texas Governor to address testing in the community.

The existing drive-thru COVID-19 specimen collection site was opened on March 23, 2020, and is managed by DPH, the Border Regional Advisory Council, and other public health partners. The site is currently testing the general public that are presenting symptoms. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, body aches, muscle or joint pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion, and loss of taste and/or smell.

Testing is free and takes place by appointment Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. An appointment can be made by calling (915) 212-0783 during operational hours.

Infected persons who have few or no symptoms can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions.

Residents with questions about the local directive can call 3-1-1. To report non-compliance, residents are asked to call the El Paso Police Department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400.

***(5/12/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting three (3) additional COVID-19 deaths for a total number of 36. The patients with underlying health conditions include two males in their 60s and a female in her 90s.

El Paso is also reporting 65 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,413. To-date 719 people have recovered from COVID-19. There are 658 active cases within the county. It is estimated that as of today more than 13,300 tests have been performed.

See accompanying graphics and map for additional data points.

“It is another heartbreaking day for our community as we report three new deaths due to COVID-19. We send our deepest condolences to the families of these three individuals,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Our community is once again seeing a considerable increase in positive COVID-19 cases. I must once again urge everyone—as I do nearly every day—to please, take responsibility for your own actions, if not for your own health then for the health of your loved ones.”

Infected persons who have few or no symptoms can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions.

Residents with questions about the local directive can call 3-1-1. To report non-compliance, residents are asked to call the El Paso Police Department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400.

***

***(5/12/2020)

The City of El Paso has partnered with PBS El Paso and the County of El Paso to offer a $1,500 cash prize for a Covid-19 public service announcement video.

The El Paso Safe PSA contest is now open and the final deadline for submissions will be Monday, May 18, 2020 at 11:59 PM.

The contest asks everyday El Pasoans to submit a short video that highlights CDC guidelines, such as maintaining social distancing or wearing PPE when in public.

Videos can be anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds in length, and the top two entries will air on PBS El Paso. In addition, the first place winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize and a second place winner will receive $500.

“We are very excited about this partnership because if you log on to any social media platform like Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, you’ll see that people are exploring their creativity with dance and humor,” said Jessica Herrera, Director of International and Economic Development for the City of El Paso. “This partnership is a great opportunity to capture that creativity while at the same time educating and illustrating their love for our community.”

The winning videos will be announced the week of May 25 and will air in June 2020 on PBS-El Paso, the City TV (Spectrum Ch. 1300, DTV Ch. 13.4, AT&T U-Verse Ch. 99) and on the City of El Paso social media pages to include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Entries will be judged based on four criteria: creativity, message effectiveness, how well the video represents El Paso and the quality of video and sound.

Click here to view the video invitation

***

***(5/11/2020) 

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting 8 (eight) new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,348, the number of deaths remains at 33.

To-date 685 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 630 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 702 females and 646 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are 80 patients hospitalized, and 34 of those are currently in ICU.

City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza reminds the public that whether you have symptoms or not, you may have the virus and not know it. We know now that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms. Even if an infected person is asymptomatic, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions that place them at higher risk.

On Monday, May 11, the El Paso City Council unanimously approved extending an emergency ordinance that extended the disaster declaration. The Council also unanimously approved to extend a second emergency ordinance establishing emergency measures.

Both ordinances were first issued on March 13, 2020 and were set to expire May 13, 2020. They will both remain in effect until June 10, 2020.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. The public is asked to continue observing health practices that protect everyone, especially those who are the most vulnerable.

Residents with questions about the local directive can call 3-1-1. To report non-compliance, residents are asked to call the El Paso Police Department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400.

***

***(5/11/2020) COVID19 Testing Available for Symptomatic, Asymptomatic Residents

Area residents who do not have COVID-19 symptoms are now able to get tested for COVID-19 virus at one of the four recently opened mobile testing sites.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo contacted Governor Greg Abbott on Friday of last week and was able to obtain the Governor’s support to send a Texas Military Department Mobile Testing Team (TMD-MTT) to El Paso to increase access to COVID-19 testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.

The Texas Department of Emergency Management, TMD-MTT, and the Office of Emergency Management worked over the weekend to stand up the mobile sites within neighborhoods by today, May 11, making testing more accessible for members of the public that may have not been able to get to other testing sites.

The testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. Citizens are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online at WWW.TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or by calling 512-883-2400.

Testing is free and available to members of the community with or without COVID-19 symptoms. Although not required for testing, signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, body aches, muscle or joint pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion, and loss of taste and/or smell.

If residents do not call or register for an appointment, they can still show up at the site and will be instructed to either register on their phone or call the number to schedule accordingly.

Testing is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

May 12 & 13:

  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills Blvd, El Paso, TX
  • Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

May 14, 15 & 16:

  • Armijo Recreation Center and Pool; 710 E 7th Ave, El Paso, TX
  • Nations Tobin Park; 8831 Railroad Dr., El Paso, TX
  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills Blvd, El Paso, TX
  • Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(5/10/2020) 

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 33. The male patient was in his 60s with underlying health conditions.

El Paso is also reporting 18 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,340. To-date 685 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 622 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 697 females and 643 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are 85 patients hospitalized, and 39 of those are currently in ICU.

Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority, reminds the public that whether you have symptoms or not, you may have the virus and not know it.

“We are disappointed to report another death due to the virus, and we send our sincerest condolences to his family,” Ocaranza said. “We want to again insist that the community wear a face covering every time you are out in public. Face coverings are a second layer of protection, but it does not mean it will protect you 100 percent if you must socialize with the public. Our best defense is to stay home and reduce our interactions with others as much as possible, particularly our most vulnerable population. Remember that the most vulnerable population are seniors, especially those with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart and lung problems who are more susceptible to the dangers of this deadly virus.”

The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. We should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, especially those who are the most vulnerable. This is why it is crucial to remain distant from anybody not living in the same household and wearing a face covering.

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling the El Paso Police Department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400. Any violation to the amended Emergency Directive will be issued a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. Anyone with questions about the local directive can call 3-1-1.

Health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21-COVID hotline, which 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 referrals to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(5/10/2020) COVID-19 Testing Expanded

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and the Office of Emergency Management have been working with the Office of the Texas Governor and the Texas Department of Emergency Management to mobilize mobile testing teams increasing access to COVID-19 testing.

“Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 positive cases and deaths, I contacted Governor Abbott on Friday for assistance with more testing capacity and hot-spot epidemiology analysis,” Margo said. “He agreed to send his Rapid Response Team to El Paso immediately, and they arrived Saturday to begin supporting our Public Health team. I’m gratified with his support of El Paso.”

Since early April, testing through the Department of Public Health and private labs has increased approximately 32 percent. The Rapid Response Team and the City worked quickly to stand up the mobile sites within neighborhoods to help make testing more accessible for members of the public with symptoms that may have not been able to get to other testing sites.

The testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. Citizens are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online at WWW.TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or by calling 512-883-2400.

Testing is free and available to members of the community with symptoms of COVID-19 and those in high-risk groups. The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, body aches, muscle or joint pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion, and loss of taste and/or smell.

If residents do not call or register for an appointment, they can still show up at the site and will be instructed to either register on their phone or call the number to schedule accordingly. The dates and locations are as follow:

May 11:

  • Armijo Recreation Center and Pool; 710 E 7th Ave, El Paso, TX
  • Nations Tobin Park; 8831 Railroad Dr., El Paso, TX
  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills Blvd, El Paso, TX
  • Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

May 12 & 13:

  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills Blvd, El Paso, TX
  • Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

May 14, 15 & 16:

  • Armijo Recreation Center and Pool; 710 E 7th Ave, El Paso, TX
  • Nations Tobin Park; 8831 Railroad Dr., El Paso, TX
  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills Blvd, El Paso, TX
  • Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(5/9/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting 46 new positive COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,322, the number of deaths remains at 32.

To-date 672 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 618 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 690 females and 632 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are 82 patients hospitalized, and 40 of those are currently in ICU. It is estimated that as of today more than 12,000 tests have been performed.

“We want to again remind the community to keep our mother’s safe this Mother’s Day,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Tomorrow is a day that we celebrate our mothers, but we have to remember that being in close contact with them places them in danger of getting this deadly virus. Remember that seniors are more susceptible to the dangers of this deadly virus. Don’t go visit your mom in-person. Do not have physical contact with her, but find different and creative ways to connect and celebrate with her.”

With few exceptions, the majority of COVID-19 patients who have died in El Paso County have been seniors who are the most vulnerable members of our community. It is important to remind everyone that COVID-19 infections can be prevented by staying home and keeping your distance from others that do not live in your immediate household.

Dr. Ocaranza reminds the public that whether you have symptoms or not, you may have the virus and not know it. We know now that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms. Even if an infected person is asymptomatic, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions that place them at higher risk. Because of the hidden nature of this threat, everyone should rigorously follow the practices specified in the amended directive, all of which facilitate a safe and measured reopening of Texas.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. We should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, especially those who are the most vulnerable. This is why it is crucial to remain distant from anybody not living in the same household and wearing a face covering.

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling the El Paso Police Department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400. Any violation to the amended Emergency Directive will be issued a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. Anyone with questions about the local directive can call 3-1-1.

Health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21-COVID hotline, which 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 referrals to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(5/8/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting two (2) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 32. The patients with underlying health conditions include two males in their 60s.

El Paso is also reporting 86 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,276. To-date 643 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 601 active cases within the county.

Positive cases in El Paso County include 663 females and 612 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are 83 patients who are hospitalized, and 47 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

The DPH has been working with the private laboratories, who are only required to report positive numbers, to obtain their total numbers. Based on this reporting, it is estimated that as of today more than 11,800 tests have been performed.

“It is another heartbreaking day for our community as we have the misfortune to report two new deaths due to COVID-19. We send our deepest condolences to the families of these two individuals,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.

“Our community is once again seeing a considerable increase in positive COVID-19 cases. The number will continue to go up if residents do not take this pandemic seriously. I have said it over and over again that we must remain at home if possible, wear face coverings when out in public and continue to frequently wash your hands with soap and water. Again, I urge residents to take responsibility and do all the necessary preventative measures to keep themselves and others safe.”

On Monday, May 4, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order Number 21, which allows for the opening of more businesses. While it is important to support the local economy, health officials urge the community to review and follow the health prevention recommendations in the order to help slow the spread of the virus.

We know now that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms. Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions that place them at higher risk. Because of the hidden nature of this threat, everyone should rigorously follow the practices specified in the amended directive, all of which facilitate a safe and measured reopening of Texas. The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. We should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, including those who are most vulnerable.

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling the police department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400. 

Any violation to the amended Emergency Directive will be issued a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. Anyone with questions about the local directive can call 3-1-1.

***

***(5/7/2020)

During a Thursday evening news conference Mayor Dee Margo and the Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that the area has 1190 total COVID19 Cases, and an additional seven deaths raising the total to 30 in the area.

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting seven (7) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 30. The patients include four (4) males in their 80s, a male in his 70s, a female in her 60s and a female in her 40s, all of who had underlying health conditions.

El Paso is also reporting 71 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,190. To-date 619 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 541 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 625 females and 565 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are 62patients who are hospitalized, and 40 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We once again are saddened to report seven new deaths due to COVID-19, and our hearts go out to the families of these seven individuals,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “We are now at 30 deaths in our community – one too many. We want to remind the public that the best defense against this deadly virus is staying home, practice social distancing and frequently washing your hands with soap and water. We are all vulnerable to contracting this deadly virus, so we must all do our part in order to stop the spread of this virus in our community.”

City and County officials have amended the current Local Emergency Directive in response to Governor Abbott’s Executive Order Number 21 issued on Monday, May 4 in an effort to stimulate the Texas economy. Part of the amended directive will go into effect on Friday, May 8 at 12:01 a.m. and will incrementally start to re-open the economy.

We know now that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms. Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions that place them at higher risk.

Because of the hidden nature of this threat, everyone should rigorously follow the practices specified in the amended directive, all of which facilitate a safe and measured reopening of Texas. The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. We should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, including those who are most vulnerable.

The amended directive will include changes to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 8, 2020, some of which have already been implemented by the State of Texas:

City Facilities

  • City Facilities shall remain closed until further notice

o   All city parks and recreational areas and facilities, including City tennis courts, City basketball courts, hike and bike trails, public swimming pools, water parks, splash pads, public museums and public libraries.

o   The area near Socorro Independent School District Student Activities Complex (“SAC”) located near 1300 Joe Battle Boulevard.

o   The use or any type of recreational vehicle at any outdoor area is prohibited.

o   City parks will remain closed except for use of designated walking paths adjacent to streets, parks, or within public parks.

o   Franklin Mountains State Park shall remain closed until further directed by Texas State officials.

Outdoor Sports

  • Sports that do not include contact with other participants and have no more than four participants play the sport at a time.
  • The use of all private and public golf courses, private tennis courts and fishing is permitted in accordance to the guidelines.
  • Bars, sexually oriented businesses, interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys, video arcades, amusement parks, water parks, splash pads, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios shall remain closed until further notice.

Retail Stores

  • In-store retail services are allowed to operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the retail establishment.
  • Dine-in restaurant services, for restaurants that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the restaurant. Value services are prohibited except for vehicles with placards or plates for disabled parking.
  • Movie theaters may operate up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of any individual theater for any screening.
  • Shopping malls may operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the shopping mall.

o   Food court dining areas, play areas and interactive displays and setting must remain closed until further notice or directed.

  • Wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings may operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the facility.
  • Cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons/shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade may open by ensuring at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations.
  • Tanning salons must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations.
  • Private swimming pools (This does not apply to City-owned pools, which will remained closed.)

o   Indoor swimming pools may operate up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the pool facility

o   Outdoor swimming pools may operate at up to 25 percent of normal operating limits as determined by the pool operator.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 18, 2020:

Offices

  • Offices consisting of more than five individuals or 25 percent of the total office workforce must adhere to maintaining appropriate social distancing.
  • Non-essential manufacturing services, for facilities that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the facility.

Gyms/Exercise Facilities

  • Classes must operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the gym or exercise facility.

o   Locker rooms and shower facilities must remain closed, but restrooms may open.

Churches/Places of Worship

  • At-risk population (those who are 65 or older, especially those with chronic lung disease; moderate to severe asthma; chronic heart disease; severe obesity; diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or weakened immune system) are asked to watch or participate service remotely.
  • Facility designate an area inside and reserve for at-risk population, or offer a service for at-risk population attendees only.
  • Ensure proper spacing between attendees.
  • Alternate rows between attendees (every other row left empty).

The updated Local Directive once completed will be made available at www.epstrong.org under “Health Orders.”

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling the police department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400. Any violation to the amended Emergency Directive will be issued a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. Anyone with questions about the local directive can call 3-1-1.

Health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21-COVID hotline which 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.

***

***(5/6/2020) El Paso area has 1119 COVID positive cases, 23 deaths, 559 recoveries and 537 active cases

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 23. The male patient was in his 90s with underlying health conditions.

El Paso is also reporting 39 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 1,119. To-date 559 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 537 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 590 females and 529 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are 68 patients who are hospitalized, and 39 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

The DPH has been working with the private laboratories, who are only required to report positive numbers, to obtain their total numbers. Based on this reporting, it is estimated that as of today more than 10,700 tests have been performed.

The majority of COVID-19 patients who have died in El Paso County have been seniors who are the most vulnerable members of our community. It is important to remind everyone that COVID-19 infections can be prevented by staying home and remaining distant from others that do not live in their immediate household.

Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority, reminds the public that whether you have symptoms or not, you may have the virus and not know it. This is why it is crucial to remain distant from anybody not living in the same household and wearing a face covering.

“We are saddened to report another death due to the virus, and we send our deepest condolences to his family,” Ocaranza said. “If you do not live in the same household with your parents, grandparents and other members of your extended family – do not physically visit them. You can still see and talk with them, but using a different method like FaceTime, phone calls, online meeting chats. The lives of the ones you love are worth more than a get together that can result in sharing or contracting the virus. We need everybody to do their part and take responsibility for their actions to reduce the spread of this deadly virus.”

***

***(5/6/2020) City: Parks remain closed during Mother’s Day Weekend

The City of El Paso reminds the public that gathering and picnicking at City parks and Franklin Mountain State Park during Mother’s Day Weekend is prohibited in order to protect family and friends from the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

“In order to protect our most vulnerable residents, we should all safely honor our loved ones through means other than gathering. This Mother’s Day, I urge El Pasoans to responsibly celebrate their families by continuing to follow social distancing guidelines,” said City of El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. “I remind the community we have the power to slow the spread of the virus through our own personal behavior.”

The Local Emergency Directive outlines that City-owned parks to include playgrounds, basketball courts, dog parks and skate parks remain closed until further notice.

Use of selected walking paths have reopened with social distancing guidelines in place.

Mother’s Day Weekend is one of the busiest for gatherings, but to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect families, residents are not allowed to gather at parks.

The City and County of El Paso also prohibit public and private social gatherings of any number of people occurring outside or inside a single household or dwelling. 

This means family get-togethers with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or friends who do not live in same household is banned as a preventative measure to stop COVID-19 from spreading.

Law enforcement and code enforcement officers will issue citations to those who do not adhere to the order. The use of McKelligon Canyon and Scenic Drive by the public remains prohibited.

The Local Emergency Directive allows for healthy outdoor activities such as walking, running or biking around neighborhoods and selected walking paths provided residents maintain the 6-foot social distancing requirement.

***

***(5/5/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 51 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s cumulative number to 1,080, the number of deaths remains at 22.

To-date 514 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 544 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 569 females and 511 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are 71 patients who are hospitalized, and 40 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

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. Based on this reporting, it is estimated that more than 10,200 tests have been performed.

The Public Health Department will soon begin antibody testing with a subset of public safety and healthcare workers to allow staff to analyze the process in preparation to expand the special testing to the public. Antibody testing is a blood test that indicates if a person may have previously been exposed to COVID-19 and developed antibodies.

City and County officials are in the process of reviewing the current Local Emergency Directive in response to today’s Governor Greg Abbott’s amendments to expand business openings in an effort to re-open the Texas economy.

“We can only continue to re-open our economy if the community does their part to social distance, wear face coverings and not gather,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “It is critical everyone, businesses and residents, follow these guidelines so we do not jeopardize our public health.”

Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority, reminds the public that El Paso County is still seeing positive cases on a daily basis and for that reason must still work to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“If you love your mom, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, any mother figure in your life show them your love them by not visiting them in person this Mother’s Day. Give them the gift of health and life, and keep them safe from COVID-19,” Ocaranza said.

“Stop making excuses on why it is ok to visit family members and friends who do not live in your immediate household. Social gatherings are simply not allowed. Meaning social gatherings consist of anyone who does not live in your immediate household, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. are prohibited. We need everyone to please take this serious and take care of each other and not risk losing a loved one.”

The public is reminded again that face coverings are locally mandated, but they are not required on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or exercising outdoors and not within 6 feet of any other individual not from the same household.

Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.

It is recommended that 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 before and after removing the covering.

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling the police department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400. Anyone with questions about the local directive can call 3-1-1.

Health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21-COVID hotline which 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

***

*** (5/5/2020)

Governor Abbott announced Tuesday that barbershop and hair salons in Texas can open this Friday, May 8th.  The announcement came during a Tuesday afternoon news conference where Abbott announced other upcoming dates for specific industries within the state to open.

Also allowed to open at the end of this week would be nail salons; so long as social distancing and other guidelines are followed. Abbott said that gyms in the state would be allowed to open on May 18th.

Guidelines for hair stylists include the mandate that they will be able to only work with one customer at a time. For barber shops customers waiting for service, they will have to maintain 6 foot separation or wait outside.

The guidelines for gyms are a bit stricter, as they can only operate at a maximum of 25% of capacity; showers and locker rooms will be closed, and equipment must be disinfected after each use.

As far as bars, the Governor said that the state is in the process of developing guidelines for those businesses to reopen safely.

Abbott’s announcement comes almost a week after businesses in the state reopened in what some described as ‘Phase 1,’ with restaurants and some stores welcomed back customers, albeit at 25% of the business’ customer capacity.

*** (5/4/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 31 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s cumulative number to 1,029, the number of deaths remains at 22.

To-date 486 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 521 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 540 females and 489 males; see accompanying graphics and map.

There are 65 patients who are hospitalized, and 38 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU. Health staff reported a clerical error in the hospitalization numbers reported yesterday which should have been 59 hospitalized, 38 in ICU and 18 on ventilators.

Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority, reminds the public to continue following the City and County’s Local Directives, which include wearing face coverings and avoiding social gatherings, especially as we approach Mother’s Day weekend.

“Residents need to understand that social gathering are not allowed,” Ocaranza said. “Going shopping or out to eat with anyone that does not live with you such as your extended family or friends is not allowed. If you must go to the store, then please go alone and keep it to a minimum and try to avoid being out of your home. Take responsibility for yourself in order to keep our community safe.”

The public is reminded again that face coverings are locally mandated, but they are not required on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or exercising outdoors and not within 6 feet of any other individual not from the same household. Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.

It is recommended that 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 before and after removing the covering.

***

***998 cases of COVID19, No new deaths, total at 22; DPH share that 474 people have recovered, leaving 502 active cases within the county (5/3/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 12 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s cumulative number to 998, the number of deaths remains at 22.

To-date 474 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 502 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 522 females and 476 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 31 patients who are hospitalized, and 21of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

The community needs to understand that this is not over,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.

“People are still testing positive for COVID-19 and we need to see more decreases in order to claim a flattening of our curve. The danger still lurks in our community, especially as we approach Mother’s Day weekend, and each of us must still take responsibility to slow the spread of the virus and protect our most vulnerable loved ones. We want to remind everyone that family gatherings with anyone who is not in your immediate household means that you are placing your loved ones—such as your mothers, aunts and grandmothers—at risk of contracting the virus. We need everyone to please take this serious and take care of each other.”

The City and County of El Paso prohibit public and private social gatherings of any number of people occurring outside or inside a single household or dwelling unit is prohibited. As has been stated, this means visiting your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or friends who do not live in same household as you is prohibited as a preventative measure to stop COVID-19 from spreading.

***

*** (5/2/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 25 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s cumulative number to 986, the number of deaths remains at 22.

To-date 455 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 509 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 519 females and 467 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 61 patients who are hospitalized, and 39 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We need residents to understand that this virus does not discriminate, it attacks all ages and we need everybody to adhere and abide by our directive,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “If you do not need to be out of your home, don’t! You are putting yourself and your loved ones at risk. People are dying and others are in the ICU. Don’t think this can’t happen to you or the ones you love; practice social distancing as best you can, wear your face covering when out in public and wash your hands with soap and water!”

The City and County of El Paso prohibit public and private social gatherings of any number of people occurring outside or inside a single household or dwelling unit is prohibited.

This means visiting your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or friends who do not live in same household as you is prohibited as a preventative measure to stop COVID-19 from spreading.

***

*** City’s total COVID19 cases now 961, Additional death raises toll to 22 (5/1/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting one (1) additional COVID-19 death, bringing the total number of deaths to 22. The male patient was in his 60s with underlying health conditions.

El Paso is also reporting 37 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 961. To-date 419 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 520 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 505 females and 458 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 58 patients who are hospitalized, and 30 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We are saddened to report another death due to the virus, and we send our deepest condolences to his family,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “As I have said over and over again, stay home! Please don’t go out if you don’t have to, don’t visit friends or families who don’t live under your same roof.”

Ocaranza said there is a strong correlation between the Easter break and the spike in positive cases, and he warns that the community will very likely see another spike in cases—or worse, a rise in deaths—due to social gathers expected to occur during the Mother’s Day weekend.

“If you absolutely must go out, wear a face covering because anyone, even those without symptoms, can spread the virus. If you must go to the store or to the mall do so quickly and then go home,” Ocaranza added. “If you insist on going to a restaurant, only do so with family who live in the same household. Wear a mask when entering the restraint and remove it when you are eating or drinking. It is about using common sense to protect your loved ones. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk.”

The Local Emergency Directive has been amended due to the ongoing upward trend in cases. El Pasoans must adhere to wearing a face covering when out conducting essential business or tasks.

The updated directive is available at www.epstrong.org under “Health Orders.”

The directive does not alter Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders as Texas cities are not prohibited from mandating the use of face coverings, but local governments are not allowed to fine or jail people for failing to do so.

The City and County of El Paso also prohibited public and private social gatherings of any number of people occurring outside or inside a single household or dwelling unit is prohibited.

Plainly, this means visiting your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or friends who do not live in same household as you is prohibited as a preventative measure to stop COVID-19 from spreading.

A face covering is not required on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or exercising outdoors and not within 6 feet of any other individual not from the same household.

Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand-washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.

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.

Testing in Rural Communities

The Office of Emergency Management has been working with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to provide additional testing sites for the County’s rural communities. The dates and locations are as follow, please note a correction by the State for the Fabens and Horizon locations:

May 12

  • Fabens: El Paso County ESD2 District Office, 16001 Socorro Rd., Fabens TX
  • Montana Vista: Montana Vista Fire Station 2, 5411 Paso View Dr., El Paso, TX

May 13

  • San Elizario: San Elizario Fire Station-1415 San Antonio Rd., San Elizario, TX
  • Horizon: Horizon First Baptist Church; 17018 Darrington, Horizon, TX
  • Vinton:  West Valley Fire Department: 510 Vinton Rd, Anthony, TX

Citizens are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online at TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or by calling 512-883-2400. Testing is open to all regardless of location of residence.

The goal is to test 60 individuals per site; however, additional testing may be available depending on demand and availability.

The time of the testing will be from 9am to 5pm. If residents do not call or register for an appointment, they can still show up at the site and will be instructed to either register on their phone or call the number to schedule accordingly.

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling the police department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400 or 3-1-1. 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 DPH: 924 cases of COVID19, Deaths now at 21 (4/30/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting three (3) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 21. The patients include a male in his 50s, a female in her 70s and a female in her 80s, all of who had underlying health conditions.

El Paso is also reporting 37 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 924. To-date 397 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 506 active cases within the county. Positive cases in El Paso County include 486 females and 438 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 53 patients who are hospitalized, and 31 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We are disappointed to report another three deaths due to COVID-19, and our hearts go out to their families. The deaths we have seen are mostly made up of the most vulnerable and there is a strong correlation between the Easter break and the spike in positive cases,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “Mother’s Day is just around the corner. We want to remind everyone that gatherings with anyone who is not in your immediate household means that you are placing your loved ones—your mothers and grandmothers—at risk of contracting the virus. We need everyone to please take this serious and take care of each other.”

EMERGENCY DIRECTIVE AMENDED: Face Coverings Required, Gatherings Prohibited

Due in large part to the ongoing upward trend in positive cases, Mayor Dee Margo, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza are amending the current Local Emergency Directive to make face coverings mandatory and prohibit all public and private social gatherings of any number of people occurring outside or inside a single household or dwelling unit.

The updated Directive once completed will be made available at www.epstrong.org under “Health Orders.”

All individuals over the age of two (2), are required to wear some form of face covering over their nose and mouth, while outside of their home or residence. A face covering may include cloth masks such as bandanas, scarves and neck gaiters that fit snugly but comfortable against the face secured with ties or ear loops.

Parents and guardians of children over the age of two (2) and under the age of ten (10) shall be responsible for appropriately masking children when outside their residence.

A face covering is not required on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or exercising outdoors and not within 6 feet of any other individual not from the same household.

Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand-washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.

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. (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.

TESTING EXPANDED: Locations Added to Region’s Rural Communities

The Office of Emergency Management has been working with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to provide additional testing sites for the County’s rural communities. The dates and locations are as follow:

  • May 12

o   Fabens: Fabens Fire Station-16001 Socorro Rd., Fabens, TX

o   Montana Vista: Montana Vista Fire Station 2, 5411 Paso View Dr., El Paso, TX

  • May 13

o   San Elizario: San Elizario Fire Station-1415 San Antonio Rd., San Elizario, TX

o   Horizon: Horizon First Baptist Church; 12018 Darrington Rd., Horizon, TX

o   Vinton:  West Valley Fire Department: 510 Vinton Rd, Anthony, TX

Citizens are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online at TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or by calling 512-883-2400. Testing is open to all regardless of location of residence. The goal is to test 60 individuals per site; however, additional testing may be available depending on demand and availability.

The time of the testing will be from 9am to 5pm. If residents do not call or register for an appointment, they can still show up at the site and will be instructed to either register on their phone or call the number to schedule accordingly.

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling the police department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400 or 3-1-1. 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.

**

For El Paso family devastated by COVID-19, being careful wasn’t enough

Like most people, Ana and Eddie Gonzalez closely followed developments as COVID-19 swept across the globe.

“I remember having discussions with my husband about how sad it was that people were going into the hospital and nobody could go and see them, and that people were dying alone,” said Ana, who works in a truancy prevention initiative for El Paso Independent School District.

They took precautions to protect their family from the novel coronavirus.”Every time we went to a store, we always wore a mask, even before the order came in. We were even wearing gloves. I had sanitizer in my purse. It was constant,” Ana said.

As COVID-19 spread through El Paso, Ana worked from home. Eddie was a superintendent on a remodeling project for Centro San Vicente, a health clinic in the Lower Valley. He and his crew used N95 respirator masks to protect themselves.

“I can tell you that he was very fearful, especially because he was working at San Vicente. It’s a (COVID-19) testing site, you know,” Ana said.

Despite every precaution, the merciless virus found its way into the Gonzalez home, killing Eddie and shattering their lives. Ana shared her family’s story on Facebook earlier this week. Her post has been shared more than 4,000 times.

“I want people to know how powerful and deadly this virus is,” Ana said in an interview with El Paso Matters.

Building a family

Eddie and Ana met 15 years ago when both were working for Region 19 Head Start. Both had children from previous relationships. They fell in love and had a son, Angel, in 2007.

“They were buddies. Oh, my Gosh, they were inseparable,” Ana said of her husband and son.

Softball was a big part of Eddie’s life. He played with his two brothers on the Angels, a team in an over-50 softball league. Angel would go to his father’s games. “My husband was an excellent player. He never played baseball in high school, but he used to play with the Indios in Juarez. He was even scouted to play in Monterrey,” Ana said.

Eddie was diagnosed with diabetes four years ago and quickly changed his lifestyle. He cut out sugar and began exercising more, shedding 50 pounds.

“He was just active. He was very active. We have a Bowflex over there in the backyard. We have a treadmill and he would run,” Ana said.

Ana and Eddie Gonzalez of El Paso both tested positive for COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Ana Gonzalez)

Fatigue, and then a crisis

Ana, who is 55, began to feel fatigued on Wednesday, April 22.

“But I was attributing it to work because (working from home is) very different than being out in the field, because I still had responsibilities here at home, to do the wash and the cooking and everything,” she said.

The next day, her 53-year-old husband came home from work early.

“He said it’s because one of the guys, a young 20-year-old guy in his crew, started feeling sick, flu-like symptoms. And he had gone to the doctor and the doctor referred him for the test for the virus. And so my husband decided to send his crew home until this guy got a result,” Ana said.

Eddie complained of a headache and went to a clinic on Friday, April 24. He was diagnosed with a sinus infection and given an antibiotic. He didn’t meet the requirements to be tested for COVID-19, his wife said.

On the night of Saturday, April 25, Ana’s condition worsened.

“I started with these severe body aches and I couldn’t sleep all night,” she said. “And I thought that I had the flu because I had gotten the flu like four years previous and it felt very similar.”

Ana also had a sore throat and a slight cough. She said the possibility of COVID-19 didn’t occur to her because she didn’t have a fever or trouble breathing. Ana and Eddie stayed apart from each other. They also stayed clear of Angel and Sophia Armendariz, Ana’s 19-year-old daughter from a previous marriage who lived with them. They wore masks in the house.

But Ana’s health continued to deteriorate over the weekend and she decided to go to a medical clinic on Monday, April 27. She cracked open her husband’s bedroom door to tell him she was going for treatment.

“And he was sitting on the floor and he was crying. And I asked him what’s wrong and he said, ‘This guy tested positive.’ I could see the fear, he had this fear. And I said, ‘Eddie, we’re not going to get sick. We’re not going to get sick,’” Ana said.

Ana got a COVID-19 test at the clinic. Two days later, the clinic called. She was positive.

Ana and Eddie get worse

Ana was feeling increasingly ill and has vague memories of the days immediately after learning she was positive. She doesn’t remember if she asked her husband if he was going to be tested.

“I was in tears because I was in such pain,” she said.

Eddie called his brother-in-law to help build a quarantine area for Ana. They draped frosted plastic sheets from ceiling to floor to create an isolation space in the living room. She could now only see shadows of her family. They would have contact only by video and text messages.

“But I could hear his cough and it was getting worse and worse. And then I could see that when he was talking to me, he was running out of breath. I kept on telling him, you’ve got to go to the clinic, you’ve got to go Eddie. And he kept telling me, ‘No, I’m fine. I’m fine,’” she said.


Relatives have started a GoFundMe campaign for the Gonzalez family here


Eddie became increasingly slow in responding to her texts. On Saturday, May 2, he told her something that she later recognized as a worrisome sign.

“He told me, ‘I asked my brother to bring me a watermelon.’ And at the moment, I didn’t think twice about it. But when my husband was told he was diabetic about four years ago, he completely gave up sugar,” she said. “But I’m thinking about it after the fact, I thought what was going through his mind? Something was happening to his brain, because of the fact that he wasn’t responding to me. The fact that he even decided to have watermelon, something that to him was poison to his body.”

Ana continued to feel worse and drove herself to University Medical Center on Sunday, May 3. She struggled to walk even a few steps, but she felt no one else could safely drive her because of her COVID-19 infection.

During her treatment, she told the medical staff about her husband’s cough. They told her Eddie had to come in immediately.

When Ana returned home after her treatment, she told Eddie to go to the hospital. Eddie struggled to get dressed and find his keys. It took him 25 minutes to get his truck out of the driveway, Ana said. His brother followed him to make sure he got to UMC.

After getting to the hospital, Eddie texted Ana that they had put him on an intravenous line and oxygen, and given him a chest X-ray. About an hour later, he texted Ana that he was going to be admitted to the hospital. Ana later found out from Eddie’s sister that he had been told the chest X-ray showed he had pneumonia.

A few hours later Eddie texted that he was being moved to the intensive care unit for better monitoring. “So I’m thinking, he’s going to get fixed. They’re going to help him,” Ana said.

At 4:30 the next morning, Monday, May 4, Ana got a call from a nurse telling her that Eddie was being put on a ventilator to assist his breathing. The nurse put Eddie on the phone to speak with Ana.

“I said, you’re going to be fine. The Lord is with you, Eddie. He’s not going to leave your side and you’re going to get better. You’re going to come home, OK? And he’s like,’OK.’ And I said, I love you. He said he loved me.”

It was their last conversation.

Hopes for a miracle crushed 

A few hours later, a nurse called Ana to tell her Eddie had gone into cardiac arrest.

“At that moment, I didn’t grasp what they were telling me as far as cardiac arrest. To me, I thought he was having a heart attack. And what they explained to me later on, a few days later, is that his heart had stopped,” Ana said.

Eddie was revived with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but he went into cardiac arrest again on Tuesday, May 5. Ana was disoriented by her own battle with COVID-19. She couldn’t fully comprehend what doctors and nurses were telling her about Eddie.

“The doctor told me, ‘Your husband has brain damage because of a lack of oxygen.’ And I kept on telling her no, Ana said. They asked if she wanted them to continue resuscitation efforts. “And I said absolutely. My husband is not going to have a third (cardiac arrest). I know he’s not. I said, my husband is going to be a walking miracle. He’s going to get out of that hospital. He’s going to blow your minds.”

On Thursday, May 7, Ana talked with a nurse named Gustavo.

“He said, ma’am, I have been a nurse for over 20 years. He says, I’ve seen miracles. And then he says, but I know what I see in front of me. Your husband is not going to survive,” Ana said. “And even then, I said, no, God has the last word.”

A mother unable to comfort her son 

At 5:40 a.m. on Friday, May 8, Ana’s phone rang. “I got the call that my husband passed away at 5:20 in the morning. A 53-year-old man,” she said, her voice cracking.

At about 9 a.m., as 12-year-old Angel prepared for his online classes, Ana broke the devastating news that his father had died.As had been the case for more than a week, Ana could not come near her son for fear of exposing him to the virus.

“He started to cry, asking why. And I told him, ‘I’m so sorry. I wish I could hug you. I wish I could just hug you. But I said I can’t,’” Ana said.

She called a pastor at their church, Abundant Living Faith Center, to pray with them over the phone.That brought them some comfort. Later that evening, Angel was sitting at the table and Ana was on the sofa.

“He had his phone and I kept on seeing him looking at this phone. And I said, what are you doing? And he said, ‘I’m calling my Dad.’ And he started crying and he was saying, ‘Dad, please answer your phone. Please, Dad, answer your phone.’ And that was heartbreaking because once again, I couldn’t get near him,” Ana said.

COVID-19’s aftermath

Within three days of Eddie’s death, Angel and Sophia both tested positive for COVID-19. They are currently asymptomatic but quarantined until May 22.

“Thank God that they’re OK. I’ve been monitoring them very, very closely,” Ana said.

She is still suffering after-effects of her own battle with COVID-19. Walking a few steps to her bathroom leaves her exhausted. “It’s a very strange feeling that I have inside my body. I feel like I’m trembling, like my entire body is trembling.”

Ana still has to keep her distance from Sophia and Angel, even though they have all now tested positive for COVID-19. Sophia’s doctor “told her that it was very important for them, my kids, to keep away from me, for us to be wearing gloves at all times because they don’t know if there’s a possibility I can get reinfected,” Ana said.

Eddie was cremated, but funeral plans are still up in the air.

“We’re going to have a graveside service after we are out of quarantine. And obviously, it’s because we don’t want anyone to be close to each other at a funeral home. So it’s going to be a graveside service. … But we just don’t know when,” Ana said.

Ana finds herself thinking back to the moment when Eddie was sedated so he could be intubated. “I think what would mean that when my husband closed his eyes, the next thing he knows is he’s in heaven. Because we’re believers and we believe that he’s in heaven. And that’s what I managed to tell my son. Close your eyes, picture it, picture your Dad walking into heaven. And Jesus is with his arms wide open ready to receive him.”

She hopes her family’s tragedy will serve as a warning that could save others. “I want people to understand this pandemic is not over. You need to take it seriously. If you truly love the people that you live with, you need to take care of yourself. You need to take care of them. What’s so difficult about wearing a mask?”

by Robert Moore, El Paso Matters

This article first appeared on El Paso Matters and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Texas Health Expert: Coronavirus Pandemic Involves Five Phases

AUSTIN – If you’re having trouble getting your head around what part of the coronavirus pandemic we’re in, a Texas public-health expert says it can be broken into five phases.

Gerald Parker directs the Bush School’s biosecurity and pandemic public policy program at Texas A&M. He said we’ve transitioned from the first phase of containment to mitigation – or slowing the spread of COVID-19 – what he calls phase two.

Next comes phase three, a second stage of containment while a vaccine is readied.

He said until a vaccine is ready, he is optimistic therapeutics can help those who become severely ill.

“We have to be much more aggressive,” Parker said. “We’re going to have to provide our public-health authorities with new resources, more human resources. And we’re going to have to provide our public-health authorities with new technologies as well.”

Parker said he expects a vaccine to be available in 15-18 months, but cautions that health officials cannot shortcut safety in its development.

In his view, phase four involves another stage of containment once a vaccine is developed. And the fifth stage would involve preparations for the next pandemic at a national security level.

Parker said we need to think about COVID-19 in the long term, because the virus is not likely to go away.

“We’re going to have to potentially deal with the reality that we may have seasonal upticks in COVID-19 in the future,” he said. “But I think that we can get that to a place that we can manage it if we have a vaccine.”

Parker said he believes the country should be reopened by employing what he calls “surgically-implemented” mitigation measures. He said the lockdown cannot continue indefinitely because of its impact on the economy as well as the physical and mental health of the larger society.

Author: Roz Brown, Public News Service – TX

El Paso rideshare drivers struggle during coronavirus pandemic

El Paso area rideshare drivers say they have minimal guidance when it comes to protecting themselves against the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many have developed their own systems for trying to keep their vehicles safe.

Carlos Calderon, 77, has been an Uber driver for two-and-a-half years. Calderon starts his driving shift at the cell phone waiting area at El Paso International Airport. There, drivers wait their turn to give a ride from the airport.

“I just stay here and I’ll get, they call it a ‘ping,’ from the airport and I’ll go pick them up and take them to their destination,” Calderon said.

Disinfecting, sanitizing vehicles

In between every ride he uses an aerosol spray to disinfect his car. He also wipes the door handles with cleansing wipes and wears a mask if necessary.

Ruben Gutierrez, a driver for Uber and Lyft, regularly disinfects his vehicle to protect against spread of coronavirus. (Elida S. Perez/El Paso Matters)

Uber’s website states, “We are working to provide drivers with disinfectants to help them keep their cars clean. Supplies are very limited, but we’re partnering with manufacturers and distributors to source as much as possible. We’ll be prioritizing distribution to drivers in cities with the greatest need.”

Calderon said he has had to buy his own cleaning products.

Protecting drivers, passengers

Amid the city’s efforts to close and scale back operations of non-essential businesses with its “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, modes of transportation including Lyft and Uber are still able to operate as essential businesses.

Uber has said passengers shouldn’t sit up front. Lyft says its drivers have discretion in whether to honor passenger requests for help with bags and other personal effects.

Lyft’s website recommends that drivers follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines that are to keep windows open when possible, increase ventilation and regularly disinfect surfaces.

Both Uber and Lyft have suspended their pooling services that allowed lower fares for people willing to share a ride with others. But the nature of rideshare services means that drivers and passengers can’t follow recommendations to stay six feet from other people in most vehicles.

Leila Blanchard uses both the Lyft and Uber apps to generate income.

Hard to find cleaning supplies

Blanchard said she has not been able to buy the supplies she would like since El Pasoans began “panic buying” products such as cleaning supplies.

“I only have two bottles of hand sanitizer left,” Blanchard said.

To protect herself, she does not allow riders to sit in the front seat. Blanchard said she uses the hand sanitizer in between rides and advises her passengers to wash their hands after they exit the vehicle.

Ruben Gutierrez, who also drives for Uber and Lyft, uses cleaning wipes and aerosol spray to disinfect his car.

“I am worried about getting sick, we all are,” Gutierrez said. “But we are here out of necessity. That’s why cleaning the car is so important.”

Author: Elida S. Perez – El Paso Matters

Elida S. Perez is a longtime community and investigative reporter. Her experience includes work as city government watchdog reporter for the El Paso Times, investigative reporter for El Paso Newspaper Tree and communities reporter with the Salem, Oregon, Statesman Journal.

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