window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-29484371-30');
Thursday , July 16 2020
Mountains 728
TRLA_728
Elizabeth 728
Utep Football Generic 728
Emergence June 11 – Sep 11, 2020 728
john overall 728×90
PBP_728
ENTERPRISE 728
Covid-19 Fund 728
Spring Training 728
Home | Tag Archives: Corona Virus

Tag Archives: Corona Virus

DPH Wednesday: 10,298 Total COVID-19 cases, Two deaths reported, toll increases to 159; Recoveries at 6448 with 3691 active cases

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

***(7/15/2020)

On Wednesday, City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) officials 345 new cases of COVID-19, bringing our total to 10,298. There are now 6448 recovered cases and 3691 active cases.

Two more deaths were reported, bringing the total of deaths to 159. Both patients had preexisting health conditions. They include:

1 female in her 70s
1 male in his 80s

DPH estimates a total of 116,100 tests have been performed; of that total, DPH offcials say they’ve tested 8905 patients, resulting in 7614 negative tests.

There are 283 patients currently hospitalized, with 98 in ICU and 40 on ventilators.

***

***(7/14/2020)

Tuesday, City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) officials 237 new COVID-19 cases, bringing our total to 9,953.  There are now 6080 recovered cases and 3716 active cases.

Additionally, five (5) deaths were reported, bringing the total of deaths to 157. All of the patients had preexisting health conditions. They include:

1 female in her 40s
1 female in her 60s
1 male in his 70s
1 female in her 80s
1 male in his 80s

DPH estimates a total of 113,000 tests have been performed; of that total, DPH offcials say they’ve tested 8838 patients, resulting in 7551 negative tests.

There are 283 patients currently hospitalized, with 98 in ICU and 40 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.

***

***(7/13/2020)

Monday morning, officials with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported one (1) death additional death and 206 new COVID-19 positive cases.

The death was a male in his 80s with underlying health conditions bringing the total number of deaths to 152.

There are now 9716 total positive cases in the region, with 5879 recovered cases and 3685 active.

DPH estimates a total of 111,700 tests have been performed; of that total, DPH offcials say they’ve tested 8750 patients, resulting in 7487 negative tests.

There are 285 patients currently hospitalized, with 91 in ICU and 36 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.

***

***(7/12/2020)

Today the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting one (1) death and 411 new COVID-19 positive cases.

The death was a male in his 80s with underlying health conditions bringing the total number of deaths to 151.

As of Sunday, there are 9510 total positive cases in the region, with 5699 recovered cases and 3660 active.

DPH estimates a total of 109,300 tests have been performed.  DPH officials add that they have tested 8695 patients, resulting in 7451 negative tests.

There are 277 patients currently hospitalized, with 91 in ICU and 34 on ventilators.

Health officials advised they are investigating the latest increase, and initial reports indicate the majority is due 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.

“This alarming spike in cases is unfortunately due to community spread, and further validating the urgency for residents to adhere to the recommended safety precautions,” said City-County Local Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “This virus is spreading like a wildfire in our community and the only way to slow the spread is for everybody to take this seriously and stay home.  If they must go out, it is important to practice all safety precautions.”

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.

City officials urge residents to stay home if possible, but if you must go out it is essential to 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 community once again reminded there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. At this time, the best way to prevent contract the virus is to avoid exposure. 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.

***

***(7/11/2020)

Saturday morning, Department of Public Health officials announced 353 new COVID-19 cases for a cumulative total of 9,099 cases. The total number of deaths remains at 150 and active cases continue to rise to 3,377.

There are a total of 5572 recovered cases, with an estimated total of 106,100 tests performed.  DPH officials say they have tested 8571 patients, resulting in 7351 negative tests.

As of Saturday, there are 251 patients currently hospitalized, with 84 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.

***(7/10/2020)

Friday morning, officials with City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 361 new COVID-19 cases, for a region-wide total of 8746.

Officials also reported five (5) deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 150. All of the patients had preexisting health conditions. They include:

1 male in his 40s
1 male in his 60s
1 male in his 70s
2 females in their 80s

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.

***(7/9/2020)

Public Health officials issued an updated order for all independent school districts and private schools in El Paso County for the reopening of on-campus instruction. The order goes into effect today, Thursday, July 9.

Health and area school system officials met earlier this week to discuss ongoing preventative measures to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

As the situation regarding COVID-19 in El Paso is rapidly evolving with observed rapid rate of transmission through community spread, health officials are recommending the following guidance to local schools:

  • All school systems (public and private) shall not re-open schools for on-campus, face-to-face instruction until after September 7, 2020.
  • Virtual instruction shall be permitted as per a school system’s own plan.
  • To the extent permitted under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), and consistent with the procedures required under the federal regulations and state rules implementing the IDEA, all children with special healthcare needs that are considered medically fragile under the IDEA shall not return to school for on-campus, face-to-face instruction, until the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Extracurricular sports and activities shall not take place until school systems re-open for on-campus instruction.
  • School systems shall develop a plan for re-opening on-campus activities and instruction and it make available to parents and the public, at least two weeks prior to reopening.

“As positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise, it is imperative that we do what is best for the safety of school children and school employees,” said City-County Local Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “Keeping our community safe is our priority and we implore residents to continue to firmly adhere to all safety precautions to slow the spread of the virus, to include practicing social distancing, frequently washing your hands and wearing a face covering.”

The Health Order will be made available at www.epstrong.org under “Health Orders.”

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.

***

***(7/9/2020)

Ysleta ISD cancels stadium graduations

As a result of the stricter guidelines established by the City of El Paso Health Department as well as the increase in positive COVID-19 cases in the city, the Ysleta Independent School District has canceled their stadium graduations scheduled later this month.

Although we understand some of our families may be disappointed by this decision, Ysleta ISD was able to provide the Class of 2020 the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments via hybrid graduations that aired June 13-14. Those graduations are still available to be viewed at any time through Ysleta ISD’s YouTube channel.

***

***(7/9/2020)

Today the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting 350 new COVID-19 cases, for a region-wide total of 8385.

Officials also announced one (1) additional death, bringing that total to 145. The patient is only identified as a woman in her 80’s with no underlying health conditions.

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.

***

***(7/8/2020)

Today the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting five (5) deaths and 393 new COVID-19 positive cases.

All except one of the patients had underlying medical conditions. They include:

  • a male in his 50s
  • a male in his 60s
  • a female in her 60s
  • a male in his 70s
  • a male in his 70s, with no underlying medical conditions

The city has increased daily testing from 500 to about 2,500—a 400 percent increase—in the last two weeks and will continue its aggressive approach on increased testing across the county, to find as many COVID-19 infected individuals as possible.

Officials are investigating the source of exposure for the latest increase. Initial reports indicate the majority are likely due 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.

More than 40 percent of the positive cases are made up of individuals in their 20s and 30s. Officials report that about 1 out of 5 individuals testing positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic. Although the city has seen an overall increase in hospitalizations, the fatality rate has remained stable. Furthermore, officials assert that the rates will only improve if the community strictly adheres to the health and safety directives.

“We cannot let our guard down. It is imperative that each one of us, individually, take responsibility for our actions and understand the risks of not practicing the safety precautions outlined in the directives,” said City-County Local Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “Again, I ask you to limit your interactions, and if you must go out in public practice social distancing, wear a face cover as mandated by the state, frequently wash your hands with soap, and water and if you’re feeling sick get tested and stay home.”

Officials make a strong call to all of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, to remain isolated at home and for all in the same household to remain in quarantine; stating that is the only way we, together will be able to slow down the spread of the disease, protecting those vulnerable loved ones.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(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

Baylor College of Medicine enrolling participants in COVID-19 treatment trial for hospitalized patients

HOUSTON – Baylor College of Medicine is enrolling participants in a treatment trial for adult patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis who are hospitalized at either Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center or Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital.

The trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of novel therapeutic agents, the first of which is the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir.

Participants in the trial must have laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and evidence of pneumonia, such as abnormal chest X-rays, rattling sounds when breathing and a need for supplemental oxygen or illness requiring mechanical ventilation.

Individuals with confirmed infection who have mild, cold-like symptoms or no apparent symptoms will not be included in the study.

Over the course of the study, the experimental treatment will initially be compared to a placebo. There will be interim monitoring of results so researchers can determine if the treatment is effective, if it is safe or if other experimental treatments should be added as they become available. If one therapy proves to have positive results, then this treatment will then become the standard for comparisons with new experimental treatments.

Dr. Hana El-Sahly, who is an associate professor of molecular virology & microbiology and medicine and the principal investigator for the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at Baylor College of Medicine, is the principal investigator for the Baylor site.

Participants will receive placebo or remdesivir intravenously for up to 10 days total. The placebo is given in equal volume in a solution that resembles remdesivir but contains only inactive ingredients.

Clinicians will regularly monitor participants and will assign them daily scores based on a predefined scale of clinical outcomes that considers factors such as temperature, blood pressure and use of supplemental oxygen, among others. Participants also will be asked to provide blood samples and throat swabs.

Researchers will test these specimens for SARS-CoV-2 and for the body’s response to the infection.

Initially, investigators will compare participant outcomes on day 15 in both the remdesivir group and the placebo group to see if the investigational drug increased clinical benefit compared to placebo. Outcomes are scored on an eight-point scale ranging from fully recovered to death. Investigators will reevaluate this scale after reviewing data from the first 100 participants.

An independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) will monitor ongoing results to ensure patient well-being and safety as well as study integrity. The DSMB will recommend that the study be halted if there is clear and substantial evidence of a treatment difference between drug and placebo.

The co-investigators of the trial at Baylor include Drs. Robert Atmar, Jennifer Whitaker, Wendy Keitel, and Marion Hemmersbach Miller.

CDC Clinical Trials information page

Analysis: A digital divide with dire consequences for Texas

When Anderson County told residents not to assemble in groups with more than 10 people, officials got some pushback from churches. County Judge Robert Johnston said that was partly because residents wanted to meet on Sundays like they always have, but it was partly because they don’t have a way to meet online. “A lot of this county has no internet service,” he said.

Many jobs can’t be done from home. That often includes work that could be done remotely — if only the computers and networks were available. And it’s a particular problem in rural Texas, which lags far behind the rest of the state in access to the internet that many urban and suburban Texans take for granted.

It’s a problem in metropolitan areas of the state, too, but for a different reason: Computers and broadband are expensive.

At times, not having broadband is just an inconvenience. It would be nice to have Netflix or Hulu, maybe, but not essential. But when the people running your city or county tell you to stay home and work from there, or when the schools close and offer classes only online, internet access becomes a necessity.

Most of the state’s households — 94%, according to a preliminary report from Connected Nation Texas, a nonprofit focused on broadband access and adoption in the state — have access to at least a minimum level of broadband internet. That’s about a half-million households without access, according to Jennifer Harris, the organization’s state program director; about 440,000 of the Texas households without access to broadband are in rural Texas.

Access just means internet access for someone who wants it. The numbers on how many Texans actually have broadband are much lower. Only 65.6% of Texas households have adopted broadband, Harris said, citing numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The other 34.4% includes rural, suburban and urban Texans — anyone with access to broadband who doesn’t subscribe to it.

That leaves around one Texas household in three without a connection to the communications network that makes it possible to work from home — if your job even allows it — or to take part in online education being offered since the pandemic shuttered the state’s public schools. We’re 38th among the 50 states in broadband adoption.

Some of the solutions are creative. WesTex Connect, an internet service provider in Abilene, has set up free Wi-Fi hotspots in parking lots next to football stadiums, at the Abilene Convention Center, in Clyde, in Merkle, at the Farmer’s Co-Op Gin in Stamford and next to a lumberyard in Stamford. More are on the way, the company says, for anyone with schoolwork to do, bills to pay, whatever requires internet access.

It’s great that the company is doing that, and a shame that it’s needed. Commerce and public education depend on internet access right now. In normal times — remember normal times? — someone without internet or a computer at home can go to a public library to get online. That’s true in cities and in small towns.

At the moment, internet is a necessity, a requirement for anyone who wants to stick with public health advice to stay at home, and also needs to get an education or work from home — not to mention paying bills, ordering groceries, catching up with friends and seeking entertainment.

The digital divide is not a new story, but it’s newly pertinent at a moment when real interactions among people are limited and virtual interactions are vital.

Some of this is about access. There are places — the woods of East Texas and the empty expanses of West Texas — where internet and even cellphone service are unavailable. Most of those are rural.

More of it is about adoption in places where access to broadband is available but where, for a variety of reasons — high prices, personal preferences, whatever — Texans aren’t connected to the virtual network that makes it possible for a social culture to weather a sudden, shocking change in how we talk and interact.

The pandemic has moved Texas online for education, commerce, health care and entertainment. But relying on that broadband network to keep us stitched together while we stay at home to keep the new coronavirus at bay leaves about a third of the state’s households at an unsustainable social distance.

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

Editor’s note: If you’d like an email notice whenever we publish Ross Ramsey’s column, click here. And if you’d like to listen to the column, just click on the play button below.

 

El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce surveys members; Sets informational webinars for next week

Officials with the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced Friday the results of a survey from their members, as well as plans to conduct a webinars for businesses next week.

With a membership roster of over 1300 businesses, during this COVID-19 Pandemic, many are struggling to remain open, especially after the recent “Stay Home, Work Safe” directive from City and County leaders.

In an effort to better assist those businesses, the El Paso Hispanic Chamber surveyed members to gauge their critical financial needs during this crisis and received almost 400 responses in just a couple of days.

“Most businesses surveyed would apply for loans ranging between $10,000 to $50,000 and $150,000 to $300,000 for their businesses financial and operational functionality,” officials shared. “Over 32% of businesses surveyed believe they would not be able to remain functional for the next 3 months without some kind of financial assistance. Another 32% believe that period would be 6 months or less.”

“Over 42% of those surveyed are currently in the process of applying for assistance from Federal, State and Local Governments.” officials added.

The Federal Government recently signed a 2.2 Trillion dollar stimulus package to assist businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

86% of respondents are looking to obtain SBA Disaster Relief Loans; to that end, the El Paso Hispanic Chamber is available virtually to assist the community in applying for funds or grants available by the SBA, and to answer any questions.

The primary use of funding, should respondents receive assistance, would be to pay for and maintain inventory, monthly expenses, maintain payroll for employees that are still working, and to pay for rent obligations.

Over 63% of those surveyed are hoping to receive some assistance in the next two weeks, to keep their businesses functional. Many of the businesses that were surveyed to do not have a business continuity plan in place for disaster situations, almost 85%.

Next week, EPHCC will be hosting a webinar with Mike McQueen, from Kemp Smith Law Firm, to discuss HR issues that COVID-19 presents, and how to navigate them.

Additionally, they will host Leila Melendez, CEO for Workforce Solutions Borderplex during a live Town Hall to discuss workforce solutions for businesses and employees; as well as a webinar with ESEI to discuss Going the Distance: Tech for Working from Home while many are being asked to work from home.

“We are working to help aid businesses and employees impacted by the current public health crisis by hosting virtual webinars with financial institutions in our “Cash, Coin and Conversations” webinar series, as well as a webinar with our local SBA office,” EPHCC officials shared.

EPHCC also rolled out a new webpage within their main website, that is updated with current and relevant information to help the community during these trying times.

“The El Paso Hispanic Chamber is dedicated to helping the community remain informed with the most up to date information about the virus and its effects on the our society,” officials added.

El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from March 15 thru 19th

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from March 15 thru 19th.

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

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

***ARCHIVE CONTENT FOLLOWS***

***

***City of El Paso releases guidelines on ‘What it Takes to be Tested’ for COVID-19 (3/19/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health is sharing the step-by-step process on how the public can be tested for COVID-19 in order to address questions from providers, staff and area residents.

Step 1: All area residents should stay home whenever possible and monitor themselves for flu-like symptoms. This includes cough, fever and shortness of breath. If a combination of all three symptoms does not improve over the course of 72 hours or worsens, they should contact their healthcare provider.

Step 2: If a resident has all these symptoms AND has traveled outside of the El Paso region or if they have had close contact with someone who is a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Step 3: The healthcare provider will assess the patient who is seeking care and should rule out other causes of symptoms, including allergies, and the common cold. Additionally, patients must provide proof of being negative for Influenza and Strep throat.

Step 4: After the healthcare provider rules out other sources of illness, they should contact the Department of Public Health Epidemiology Program for triage, based on the Texas Department of State Health Services guidelines. (See: Interim Criteria to Guide Testing of Persons Under Investigation for Coronavirus Disease 2019)

Step 5: If approved by the Public Health Epidemiologist, the healthcare provider will receive a “test number” from the epidemiology team. Using proper personal protective equipment the provider will collect and submit two upper respiratory samples (nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs), plus a third lower respiratory sample if possible.

Step 6: The healthcare provider will then notify the Department of Public Health Laboratory prior to submitting the sample to the lab. While awaiting results it is important to have the patient self-quarantine at home if they are discharged from care.

Step 7: Once the samples have been analyzed, the results will be sent to the healthcare provider to notify the patient. Positive results will trigger an epidemiological investigation by the Department of Public Health.

Residents who do not have a primary care physician or who do not have insurance should dial 2-1-1 and select option six (6) for a referral to a healthcare provider. There is no cost for the approved test analysis conducted by the Public Health Laboratory.

Further information and details are available at www.EPHealth.com at the COVID-19 page.

Message from Fire Chief Mario D’Agostino – 911 Protocol

***

***City of El Paso Department of Public Health officials confirm 3 more cases of Coronavirus in the city. (3/19/2020)

Thursday afternoon, Mayor Dee Margo announced that the city had tested and discovered 3 additional cases of Coronavirus, bringing the total number to 6 in the city.

Mayor Margo also announced that mobile testing only for emergency personnel and first responders would begin; he also asked residents to adhere to the new guidelines released by the Governor of Texas earlier today.

Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority added that no cases of the virus have been found on Fort Bliss.

Officials also strongly urged all businesses to follow the workplace guidelines and provided a link to that information, as well as city guidelines for daycares.

Below is the city’s full release.

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health announced today that three new individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. The total number of positive cases in El Paso now stands at six.

The fourth patient is a female in her late 60s and the fifth is a female in her late teens. It is believed that these two patients were associated with the second case while in quarantine together. The sixth case involves a male in his 20s and is believed to be travel-related as he recently traveled abroad. None of these cases are from Fort Bliss and all new cases are being monitored and recovering at home.

“Also, it should be noted that we have tested more than 60 individuals and only six have come back positive,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority, “this means that more than 90 percent of those with signs and symptoms and risks have tested negative.”

The public is reminded that COVID-19 is not an airborne disease like measles. It is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs. Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization. However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.

Local officials have begun using the El Paso 911 Notification System to inform area residents of the most up-to-date COVID-19 information and prevention methods. Anyone who is interested in receiving regular emails, text messages, or telephone calls may sign up for the service online.

DPH officials continue to urge residents to follow prevention measures and stay up-to-date with the latest information by subscribing to both the City and DPH social media platforms, and to visit www.EPHealth.com or www.EPSalud.com for updates.

Additionally the 2-1-1 Texas Call Center is available 24/7. Callers can dial 2-1-1 and select option six for more information.

Message from Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority (English)

***

***Driver License (DL) Expiration Dates Extended, DL Offices Closed in Light of COVID-19 Outbreak (3/19/2020)

At the direction of Governor Greg Abbott and in light of the governor’s State of Disaster Declaration related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been directed to extend the expiration date of Texas identification cards (ID), driver licenses (DL), commercial DLs (CDL) and election identification certificates (EIC).

Additionally, the department has been directed to close DL offices, effective Thursday, March 19, until directed to reopen by the governor. These actions come as the state works to limit the ongoing spread of COVID-19 by increasing social distancing in communities.

DRIVER LICENSE OFFICE CLOSURES

Effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, DL offices across the state have been closed until further notice. The temporary closure does not apply to individuals seeking an initial CDL. A number of DL offices across the state are designated as CDL sites — these offices will offer CDL testing by appointment only. If you already have a CDL skills test scheduled, that appointment remains valid.

For those needing to schedule a CDL test, send an email to cdlappointments@dps.texas.gov. Please include your name, DL number, date of birth, telephone number, email address and your preferred office location in your request.

DRIVER LICENSE EXTENSION

In accordance with section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code, the Office of the Governor approved DPS’ request to suspend provisions of the Texas Transportation Code to the extent necessary to delay the expiration of Texas DL/CDL/ID/EIC cards. This means that if your Texas DL/CDL/ID/EIC card expires on or after March 13, 2020, it falls under the period that encompasses the State of Disaster Declaration related to COVID-19 and will remain valid for 60 days after which time DPS issues public notice that the extension period for this disaster declaration has been lifted.

It’s important to note that this extension applies to the expiration date only. A person who is not eligible to drive due to an active enforcement action (suspension, revocation or denial) may use the card for identity purposes only.

DPS is communicating with law enforcement agencies across the state to notify and inform them about the changes and what the extension means for their interactions with the public.

ONLINE SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR TEXANS

The majority of customers who come into Texas DL offices (for example, 3.2 million people in Fiscal Year 2019) don’t have to. These customers can actually conduct their transaction online, by phone or by mail. DPS encourages Texans to check the expiration date on their card and call 1-866-DL-RENEW (1-886-357-3639) or visit Texas.gov to see if you’re eligible to conduct your transaction online, particularly in light of the closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fee is the same for online, in-person and telephone renewals. For additional information about renewing your DL or ID card, visit the DPS website. Address changes and replacement of a lost DL or ID can also be taken care of online (or by mail) in many instances. Find out if you are eligible for online services by visiting Texas.gov.

WHEN WILL YOUR OFFICES REOPEN?

The department continues to be in constant communication with state leadership regarding this rapidly changing situation. The department will follow guidelines set by the governor as to when our offices will reopen and will keep the public informed as the situation continues to evolve.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • DPS DL COVID-19 Informational Web Page
  • Governor Abbott, DPS Waive Expiration Dates for Driver Licenses, March 18, 2020 (view here)
  • Governor Abbott Announces Temporary Closure of Driver License Offices, March 18, 2020 (view here)
  • Governor Abbott Holds Press Conference on Coronavirus, Declares State of Disaster for All Texas Counties, March 13, 2020  (Announcement | Declaration)
  • DPS Takes Preventative Measures Against COVID-19, Encourages Texans to do the Same, March 12, 2020 (view here)

***

***Ysleta ISD updates times, campuses that will offer curbside meals (3/19/2020)

To help minimize the impact to YISD families during the weeks of school closure, select campuses will offer weekday breakfast and lunch meals to school-aged children between ages 1-18 on a drive-through basis.

Vehicles will be allowed to pull up to the campuses listed below from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. and receive both breakfast and lunch meals for children inside the vehicle:

  • Capistrano Elementary
  • Constance Hulbert Elementary School
  • Desertaire Elementary School
  • R.E.L. Washington Elementary School
  • Bel Air Middle School
  • Del Valle Middle School
  • Parkland Middle School
  • Bel Air High School
  • Del Valle High School
  • Eastwood High School
  • Hanks High School
  • Parkland High School
  • Riverside High School
  • Ysleta High School

As always, the district will continue to work closely with city and county health officials, and monitor any developments regarding COVID-19 as it relates to the Ysleta ISD community.

***

***IDEA Public Schools close until further notice, implements Distance Learning, Meal Service Program (3/19/2020)

To help keep our community safe, IDEA Public Schools campuses in Texas will remain closed until further notice. All planned events, athletics, field trips, after-school programs and other campus activities have been canceled for the remainder of the year.

Student instruction will continue online via distance learning for all students in grades Pre-K through 12 beginning:

  • Monday, March 23 in Tarrant County
  • Tuesday, March 24 in San Antonio
  • Monday, March 30 in the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, and Austin

IDEA will also provide physical copies of school materials available via curbside pickup.

In an effort to provide essential services that support the well-being of our students and families, all campuses will remain open only for curbside meal services for families beginning:

  • Thursday, March 19 in Tarrant County
  • Friday, March 20 in San Antonio
  • Monday, March 23 in the Rio Grande Valley, Austin, and El Paso

Select campuses will remain open to provide limited childcare to IDEA parents who work in critical public safety roles such as healthcare, first response, city or county-based roles.

Childcare will be available for these parents at designated campuses from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm Mondays – Fridays and will abide by CDC guidelines for public health, including temperature checks upon entry and gatherings of no more than 10 people per childcare area.

Childcare will be available for up to 50 students per site on a first-come, first-served basis.

Families wanting more information on extending school closure, meal service, childcare services, and the distance learning program, may visit IDEA’s website

 

***Emergence Health Network reminds community of mental health and wellness needs during this time (3/19/2020)

Emergence Health Network, the area’s mental health and wellness professionals, remind residents that they continue to offer crisis services for those needing them throughout the COVID-19 epidemic. Residents can call the Emergence Crisis Line at 915-779-1800, 24/7 if they need services.

Live operators continue to staff the crisis line as usual.

***

***Area Leaders issue joint statement urging cooperation,preparation in the El Paso/Juarez area (3/19/2020)

Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23), Mayor Dee Margo, County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego, and Borderplex Chief Executive Officer Jon Barela, released the following joint statement urging U.S. and Mexican authorities to cooperate to contain spread of coronavirus, and El Paso-Juárez region to make contingency plans to minimize impact.

“Following the temporary restriction of non-essential travel across the U.S.-Canada border due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are urging the El Paso-Juarez region to prepare contingency plans in anticipation that similar measures may be implemented on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. and Mexican authorities need to cooperate closely to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to do so in a transparent, responsible way. Cooperation should include steps to keep supply chains open and safe, facilitate essential travel between both countries, and administer aid to refugees and other migrants, such as those individuals held in detention facilities in the United States and awaiting court dates in Mexico.

“This pandemic is a rapidly evolving global challenge, and the response to this pandemic demands bold, courageous action on both sides of the border. As a resilient binational community, we should all be alert, make contingency plans, and work to minimize the health, economic, and social impacts of COVID-19 in our region. Let’s rise to the challenge.”

***

***City of Socorro issues new guidelines for offices, waiting rooms (3/19/2020)

Thursday afternoon, officials with the City of Socorro issued new rules for community members looking to interact at their city offices. Below is there statement.

***

***Governor Greg Abbott issues Executive Order closing dine in restaurants, bars, food courts; gyms closed, nursing homes visits banned, Texas schools to remain closed (3/19/2020)

During a morning news conference, Governor Greg Abbott issued orders closing dine in restaurants and bars statewide due to Coronavirus concerns. Gyms were also ordered closed, as well as a ban on visiting nursing homes and long term care facilities.

After taking a look back at how the state and the federal government reacted to the Coronavirus, Governor Abbott announced that a Public Health Disaster had been declared earlier in the day, by Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner, Department of State Health Services.

Governor Abbott followed declaration with an Executive Order, following the standards set by the President and the CDC. In brief, the order outlines the following:

  1. Every person in Texas shall not gather in group of more than 10.
  2. Texans are to avoid bars, restaurants, food courts, gym; essentially no dining out; however drive thru and pick up of meals is encouraged throughout the duration of the Executive Order.
  3. No visiting nursing homes, long-term care facilities; unless it is to provide vital services.
  4. All school temporarily closed, however the education will not stop, schools are to work with the Texas Education Agency to conting online and distance learning.

The order is effective midnight on Friday, March 20th thru April 3rd, but may be modified should the situation with COVID-19 warrant.

“This is not a shelter in place order, all critical infrastructure will remain open and functioning,” Governor Abbott stated.

Watch the full replay of Governor Abbott’s comments, courtesy PBS News Hour. | Click here to read the Executive Order

***

***Utility Assistance, other vital services available to low-income families, people laid off due to COVID-19 (3/19/2020)

Per guidance provided from local and state officials, the non-profit organization has introduced an emergency plan to better reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Effective March 20, 2020, Project BRAVO centers will be closed to the public and all client services will be provided by phone, email, and the internet. Applications and other documents may also be dropped off through mail slots or drop boxes at all six community centers.

In addition, office hours have been altered and Project BRAVO business will be conducted Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Project BRAVO provides essential services such as utility assistance, furnace and air conditioning repair, patient assistance, and foreclosure prevention. Low-income families and people recently unemployed because of COVID-19 are especially encouraged to take advantage of Project BRAVO’s utility assistance program.

Households may qualify for up to $1,600 of utility assistance for the next six to nine months. Although utility providers are not enforcing disconnection notices, households will be responsible for paying their outstanding utility bills once the moratorium is lifted.

Applications may be found on Project BRAVO’s website at www.projectbravo.org. Customers may also call (915) 562-4100 and request an application by mail.

In order to facilitate assistance, applicants are asked to provide a working phone number, a backup phone number, and an email.

Applicants with appointments on or after March 20, 2020 will be contacted by phone to complete the application process. If phone numbers on an application have changed, please contact Project BRAVO at (915) 562-4100 to update contact information.

Contact information for all Project BRAVO centers:

CENTRAL
2000 Texas Ave.
El Paso, TX 79901
Telephone: (915) 307-4951
Fax: (915) 307-5109

YSLETA
8908 Old County Dr.
El Paso, TX 79907
Telephone: (915) 629-7664
Fax: (915) 591-1264

NORTHEAST
8815 Dyer St. Ste. 300
El Paso, TX 79904
Telephone: (915) 757-0199
Fax: (915) 751-1844

EASTSIDE
14901 Whitetail Deer Dr.
El Paso, TX 79938
Telephone: (915) 565-1377
Fax: (915) 225-5187

WESTSIDE
7000 5th St.
Canutillo, TX 79835
Telephone: (915) 877-7694
Fax: (915) 877-7695

LOWER VALLEY
13680 Socorro Rd.
San Elizario, TX 79849
Telephone: (915) 872-3915
Fax: (915) 225-5187

Applications and information is available online and applications may be emailed to apply@projectbravo.org

***

***UIL Announces extended suspension of all UIL Activities (3/19/2020)

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) is extending its suspension of all UIL sanctioned activities due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Texas. All contests, practices, rehearsals and workouts will remain suspended until further notice.

At this time, the earliest games and contests may resume is Monday, May 4th. Prior to this date, the UIL will allow its member schools a reasonable acclimatization period for rehearsals and practices to occur. All decisions remain flexible and will be consistent with the advice of local, state and federal officials.

“We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes, including extended school closures.”

The UIL will continue to provide timely, ongoing updates and is reassessing this ever-changing situation daily. Please continue to check the UIL website  and social media accounts for further updates.

***

*** Wells Fargo Donates $75K to Paso del Norte Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund (3/19/2020)

The Wells Fargo Foundation will donate $75,000 to the Paso del Norte El Paso COVID-19 Response Fund to support the community response to COVID-19 in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley.

The funding will help deliver critical relief by providing rental and/or utility assistance to those who are unable to work due to business closures.

Additionally, the grant will help support vulnerable populations such as the homeless and elderly in accessing food or shelter through partnerships with nonprofit entities like El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.

“It’s important in times of community need that we all work together,” said Alma Ortega Johnson, region bank president for South Texas and El Paso. “We’re grateful for the leadership of the Pas del Norte Community Foundation for its ability to act quickly in caring for our local residents. We hope our support provides a measure of relief as we stand with the community during this challenging situation.”

This $75,000 donation is part of the $6.25 million in aid Wells Fargo announced earlier this month to support the domestic and global COVID-19 response.

***

***Speaking Rock announces immediate closure (3/19/2020)

Via a post on their website and social media page, officials with Speaking Rock announced the immediate closure of their facility.

***

***Inn of the Mountain Gods announces closure as of Noon on Thursday (3/19/2020)

Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino and Casino Apache has announced it will temporarily close its property at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2020, reopening for business on April 1, 2020.

Hotel guests will be allowed to remain on property with our standard check-out time of 11 a.m. Friday, March 20, 2020. Ski Apache will remain open until close of business on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

Inn of the Mountain Gods is following the request of the management board. The resort has also been closely following guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The health and safety of Inn of the Mountain Gods’ team members and guests is a top priority. This action is being taken as concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to elevate across the U.S. and globally.

“This temporary closure of our property is the best thing to do for our guests and team members,” said Frizzell Frizzell Jr., Chief Operating Officer at Inn of the Mountain Gods. “Fortunately, we have not yet had any COVID-19 cases at our properties, or in the surrounding communities, though we feel it is important to take preventative steps to limit the risks of community spread.”

In preparation for and during our planned closure, some key staff members will help close operations and remain onsite to clean and maintain the facility. Additionally, all employees will be paid for this upcoming two-week period. During this time of closure, employee paychecks, paid time off and benefits will not be affected.

The gas station located at Casino Apache will remain open for credit card transactions only during the temporary resort closure.

“The safety of our team members and guests comes first,” said Frizzell Frizzell Jr. “Together, we will pull through this unprecedented time – and we will be ready to welcome everyone when we open our doors and resume normal activities.”

For more information on Inn of the Mountain Gods visit the website or call 1-800-545-9011.

***

***Walmart announces shorter operating hours, Tuesday shopping hour for older citizens, new limits on certain items (3/19/2020)

Our associates have been nothing short of heroic in their commitment to serve customers, stock shelves as quickly as possible and keep their stores clean. When their communities needed them the most, our people have been at their best. Their efforts continue to be a tremendous source of pride for everyone at Walmart.

Over the weekend we adjusted our operating hours to help make it easier for associates to stock and perform enhanced cleaning and sanitizing. We’re pleased with the results we are seeing and will take additional steps beginning Thursday, March 19.

Store Operating Hours

  • Walmart U.S. stores will adjust operating hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Stores that open later than 7 a.m. will continue their regular starting hours. This will further help associates restock the shelves for customers while continuing to clean and sanitize the store. While the store hours change for customers, our associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours.

Special Shopping Hours

  • We know our older customers could be more vulnerable to the coronavirus and to better support them, Walmart is offering special shopping hours. From March 24 through April 28, Walmart stores will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This will start one hour before the store opens. Our Pharmacies and Vision Centers will also be open during this time.

Item Limitations

  • We know communities are counting on us more than ever and we are determined to serve the broadest number of customers and ensure they have access to the key items they are looking for. Our stores will have limits for customers in certain categories including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.

Essential Services

  • Our people are working hard to have every part of the store ready to serve customers. To help support our people and focus on the most critical areas of the store right now, we will temporarily shut down our Auto Care Centers to allow those associates to focus on stocking and cleaning in the rest of the store.
  • Also, our Vision Centers will operate on their normal schedule, providing essential services only such as glasses repair and helping customers pick up existing orders. We will have at least one associate to serve the needs of our Vision Care customers, while the other associates will help in the rest of the store.

I think every one of us has had to adjust our daily routines in some way, and it’s likely that could continue. We are paying very close attention to our stores and communities and will continue making the necessary changes to help make sure our associates are taken care of and that our customers can get what they need. Let’s all take care of each other out there.

***

***NCO Leadership Center of Excellence Event Cancelation Due to COVID-19 Precautions (3/19/2020)

It is with great regret, that the presentation of a memento to honor the victims of the Cielo Vista Shooting on Wednesday, March 25, at 10:00 a.m. at the Cielo Vista – Walmart is now canceled, due to COVID-19 precautions.

At this time, the event will not be rescheduled.

***

***Texas State Parks, TPWD Facilities Limit Operations  (3/19/2020)

Texas State Parks to Close Public-Serving Facilities and Programs Starting at 12 p.m. March 19; Law Enforcement, Boat Registration Offices Close to Public Visitation

After careful evaluation of the ongoing public health situation, Texas State Parks will be limiting park programming and closing public access to park headquarters, visitor centers and park stores starting at 12 p.m. Thursday, March 19.

“Our main priority has always been the health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff, and in order to maintain this standard to the best of our abilities TPWD facilities will be modifying operations as a precautionary step towards protecting public health,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“While we have worked hard to provide access to state parks through much of Spring Break, we have now reached a point where changes are imperative for safety reasons. I am grateful to our State Parks team and volunteers for their valiant work during this exceedingly difficult time and thank our visitors for their patience and understanding as we continue to evaluate additional measures to ensure the safety of everyone in the parks.”

As part of these operational changes, parks will be suspending all cash transactions where feasible. Visitors are encouraged to utilize the self-pay stations, the online reservation system and credit card transactions at this time. Other reduced services include the suspension of equipment rentals and interpretive programs.

Park visitors should check the Texas State Parks Alert Map regularly for the latest information about the status of parks.

In addition to the operational changes at Texas State Parks, TPWD law enforcement and boat registration offices, including the license and boat registration counter at TPWD’s Austin headquarters, will be closing to public visitation at 12 p.m., March 19.

Texans needing to purchase hunting and fishing licensesboat and motor owner transfers, and boat registration renewals are encouraged to visit tpwd.texas.gov or call the department at (512) 389-4800.

These changes will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. TPWD will continue to monitor the evolving health situation with local and state officials and will adjust operations at department sites and facilities as necessary.

The public is encouraged to follow the department’s social media accounts and monitor its website for the most up to date information.

***

*** Bishop Seitz on Diocesan Closure in response to the Coronavirus  (3/18/2020)

As we are all aware our nation and the entire world is facing a crisis with the rapid spread of the novel corona virus. Our Diocese has not been spared. Daily new cases are reported and based upon the experience of many other communities around the world it has become clear that without radical steps this virus will threatened the lives of a large percentage of our citizens, especially those with already compromised immune systems and seniors.

If we are to have an effective response in our community no one can be exempt from doing their part. Young and old, rich and poor, this virus makes no distinction. Those who are fortunate to suffer mild cases, unless they self-quarantine, will spread this illness to many others.

Since this is a novel or “new” virus, no one has immunity.

The Church also has to respond resolutely and in a way that sets an example for others. The law of love is that which guides everything we do. Every other good gift and every other law finds its fulfillment in our love for God and for all his daughters and sons.

With these things in mind, after consulting many of my brother priests as well as many lay leaders and in cooperation with the civil authorities of our region I have decided to establish these protocols regarding the life of the Church in our Diocese until they are specifically changed or revoked.

Sunday and Weekday Masses

1. Until further notice the celebration of the Eucharist (the Mass) may not be celebrated publicaly. Only a limited number of those who serve in various ministries may take part. These roles include acolytes, lectors and a small number of musicians.

The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday is hereby dispensed.

2. The Diocese is presently negotiating with commercial stations to broadcast a Sunday Liturgy in Spanish and in English. Masses may be made available on other platforms and may be offered by any parish. This manner of participation is clearly not the same as being there but it is our hope that a prayerful participation will allow us to stay close to this primary act of the Church and help us to grow in longing for what we now cannot directly share.

3. Pastors are encouraged to consider liturgically acceptable ways to provide the Sacraments while practicing the social distancing and the limited numbers which are permitted at this time. I would ask pastors to seek the approval of Fr. Ben Flores, our Vicar General or myself before implementing such practices.

Churches to temporarily closed for Prayer and Eucharistic Exposition

Parish churches will need to be closed temporarily until we can remedy a critical shortage of cleaning supplies which are necessary to assure that the surfaces in the facilities are free of the virus. As soon as this can be rectified churches will be opened for prayer as long as possible each day for private visits by the faithful.

Numbers will need to be regulated to stay below the prescribed limit of 10 persons. Frequent exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is highly encouraged.

Sunday Prayer at Home

All Catholics of the Diocese are asked to have a time of prayer together in their homes on Sunday. Recommended prayer guides will be made available at our El Paso Diocese website based upon the Sunday readings.

Wednesdays During Lent – Day of Prayer and Fasting

In addition to the usual requirements for abstinence from meat and penance on Fridays of Lent, Wednesdays will be a special day of prayer and fasting during Lent. This day will be devoted to asking God’s assistance for those who are suffering from this illness, as well as medical personnel and first responders.

Each one must decide how they personally will do penance and fast according to their health and ability.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)
Penance Services are cancelled. Reconciliation times can be arranged by appointment. Once the churches are open for visitation regular opportunities will be offered. Safe social distancing must always be provided for.

Passion (Palm) Sunday

Blessed Palms should be made available for distribution at the church after a non-public celebration of the Mass on this day.

The Chrism Mass

This year the Chrism Mass will be celebrated with the necessary lay ministers and only the priests who serve as Vicars present representing the priests of the Diocese. All priests and faithful are encouraged to take part by watching the Mass on line.

Vicars will be asked to distribute the Holy Oils to the parishes in their Vicariate in the days following the Mass.

The Sacred Triduum

The Rites of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday) may only have lay ministers (including musicians) who are essential to the smooth celebration of the rite in addition to priests and deacons.

The Scrutiny Rites and Baptisms will be done at a later date.

Receptions into the Church

Receptions of those already Baptised in other Christian Churches can be arranged with your pastor and celebrated at a daily Mass or outside of Mass but keeping under the limit of 10 present.

Infant Baptisms

With the exception of emergency Baptism, Infant Baptisms may not be celebrated until these restrictions are eased.

Confirmations

Group Confirmations are postponed until a later date.

Weddings

Marriages are to be postponed until a later date or celebrated at the discretion of the pastor respecting the limit of 10 present.

Quinceañeras

Quinceañera ceremonies must be postponed until a later date.

Communion of the Sick

Communion of the Sick at home and hospitals is permitted to be offered only by priest, deacons and seminarians. Senior priests and those with chronic health conditions may not bring Communion to the Sick. Trained Lay Eucharistic Ministers may bring Communion only to infirm members of their families.

Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum

Priests may celebrate these Sacraments individually, not communally. They must practice recommended precautions, but the Sacrament does require that the priest apply the Oil of the Sick to the skin of the person receiving the Sacrament. They may use gloves and/or apply the oils using cotton balls.

Funeral Rites

At this time Funeral Masses will not be permitted, but private graveside rites with immediate family should be celebrated by a priest or deacon. Priests should offer one of his non-public Masses for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

At a later date when Masses open to the public a Memorial Mass should be celebrated.

Religious Education Classes

1. Gatherings at church for Religious Education classes are cancelled and will resume when the public schools reopen. Online opportunities for religious education are encouraged.

2. First Communions are postponed.

Other Church Related Events

All in person parish gatherings, retreats, bazaars and meetings that gather more than 10 people must be postponed or cancelled. Meetings using online platforms are encouraged.

Individual meetings with priests and deacons for pastoral counseling or spiritual direction are permitted as long as all parties are in good health and safe social distancing is practiced.

Some Concluding Thoughts

We all need moments in our life which reveal to us whether our faith is a living one or if it has become a mere façade. This is one of those moments. If our practice of the Faith has become cold and superficial over the years I pray that we will experience this time as a wakeup call.

Some will sadly see this time as a free pass. They will try to live this time in which we are unable to gather at church and receive the Eucharist as though they have been liberated from former constraints.

When the Mass was not allowed to be celebrated in Mexico during the Cristero War many Mexicans fell away from the practice of their Faith. But many rededicated themselves to God, drew closer to the Mother of God and grew day by day in their longing for that day when they would be able to gather once again as the Body of Christ and celebrate his Sacrifice for us in the Eucharist. Many gave their life for this noble cause.

It is my hope that we, the People of God here in the Diocese of El Paso will be proven to be worthy descendants of these great predecessors whose deep faith runs in our blood.

As such we will be even more committed during this time to care for our brothers and sisters in need, the poor, the elderly, the sick and recent immigrants, even at the cost of great sacrifice.

I trust that in the midst of the financial challenges we will all face that we all will come together to make sure that our parishes have the assistance they need to pay the bills and continue their service even without a weekly collection at Mass.

May we remain close to one another in prayer and in mutual love and caring. Then the Lord will be close to us and give us all that we need to come out on the other side of this present crisis as an even stronger and more zealous Church.

I will stay in touch as will your pastors and other leaders through the MyParishApp. Be sure to download this important free tool by texting the word app to 88202.

May God Bless you!
Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, DD
Bishop of El Paso

***

***Clint ISD to provide Meal Service for all Students during District Closure(3/18/2020)

Clint ISD will provide breakfast and lunch service March 23-27, 2020 and March 30, 2020 -April 3, 2020. The meals will be made available at all schools in Clint ISD to pick up and take home.

To assist families who cannot walk/drive to the schools, Clint ISD buses will stop at specific locations to drop off meals.

The weekday service will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for pick up at all elementary, middle, and high schools in the district. Service will be available via a drive-through or walk-up process.

Meals will be provided for children who walk up to pick up their meals or who are in the vehicles in the drive-through line. Meals will be provided for all children 18 years old or under in a household, regardless of where they reside or income qualifications.Clint ISD school buses will be stopping at various locations and will have meals available for pick up.

The bus will only be at the area for 10 minutes for meal pick up to ensure all locations are served timely. Visit www.clintweb.net for specific pick up locations and times.

The meal pick up will include lunch for the current day and a cold breakfast to be stored and eaten on the following day. Families will need to refrigerate cold breakfast items immediately after pick up to ensure the safety of the food for the next morning.

Changes or updates will be posted on the District’s web page.

Contact the Child Nutrition Program:  915-820-2339 or 956-220-0353
Contact the Transportation Department:  915-549-2089 or 915-474-0155

***

***Chamizal National Memorial modifying operations to implement latest health guidance (3/18/2020)

 Chamizal National Memorial is announcing modifications to operations to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing.

As of March 18, 2020, Chamizal National Memorial has closed the Cultural Center including Visitor Center Information Desk, Park Store, Museum, and Theater as well as postponed all programming and events until further notice. Where it is possible to adhere to the latest health guidance, the Memorial grounds and comfort station will remain open to the public from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Chamizal National Memorial is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.

The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.

***

*** El Paso Electric to Implement Changes to Customer Payment Centers In Effort to Flatten COVID-19 Curve (3/18/2020)

With the quickly evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) health situation, El Paso Electric (EPE) is implementing measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and taking proactive steps to enhance our customers’ and our employees’ health and safety.

Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020 all EPE customer payment center lobbies will be closed until further notice. However, all drive-throughs will remain open to take payment. Currently, payment drop boxes at every location are still available to customers to drop off their payment at any time.

The table below provides revised operations effective March 23, 2020:

 

 

 

 

 

TX

Downtown El Paso Stanton Tower Building

100 North Stanton Street

El Paso, TX 79901

 

 

CLOSED

Payment drop boxes available 24/7

Van Horn 207 West Second Street

Van Horn, TX 79855

Fabens 200 East Main Street

Fabens, TX 79838

 

OPEN

Drive-Through Only

Monday – Friday

8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Payment drop boxes available 24/7

 

 

 

NM

Las Cruces 201 North Water Street

Las Cruces, NM 88001

Anthony 400 Anthony Drive

Anthony, NM 88021

EPE reminds customers of the resources available for other bill payment options via online at epelectric.com. Additionally, customers always have the option to mail in a personal check (instructions are provided on paper bills) or set up automatic payment via bank draft (info on EPE’s website under ‘Bill Management Center’).

EPE’s Bill2Pay app is also available for download from the Apple Store and Google Play.

EPE will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and will provide updates on any additional changes to our operations.

***

***COVID-19 Prevention Guidance Provided to Dental Providers  (3/18/2020)

This afternoon (Wednesday) El Paso City/County Health Authority, Dr. Hector Ocaranza issued updated guidelines targeting dental practitioners. The guidance is in an effort to curb transmission of COVID-19 in our community.

In addition to increased vigilance and sanitizing, these guidelines ask dental providers not to refer patients to emergency rooms in order to ease the demand faced by healthcare facilities.

“It is preferred that those patients who need to be admitted be directly admitted to the hospital from your office,” Dr. Ocaranza writes in the guidelines. Ocaranza stresses adhering to universal precautions, frequent handwashing, and the screening of patients for symptoms of COVID-19 in order to avoid exposing others.

Clinic managers are also reminded to review their Human Resources protocols and update sick leave policies in case employees should fall ill. Employees who are sick need to stay home and they should not report to work.

Residents with questions and concerns regarding the orders may email COVIDCompliance@elpasotexas.gov.

For more information and to remain up to date on the newest developments, the public is encouraged to visit www.EPHealth.com.

Message from Assistant Chief Rodriguez

Dr. Hector Ocaranza – Guidance for Travelers  (English)

Dr. Hector Ocaranza – Guidance for Travelers  (Spanish)

***

***City to Close Animal Services, Recreation Centers, Libraries, Museums and Zoo (3/18/2020)

In an effort to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and for the well-being of the public and City of El Paso employees, the City will close all recreation centers, aquatic facilities, libraries, museums and the El Paso Zoo at 5 p.m. today, until further notice.

El Paso Animal Services will also close its doors to the public beginning tomorrow, March 19.

While these facilities remain closed, residents are encouraged to use a variety of activities and community services available online. The following City Department have online services:

El Paso Public Library 

  • The library offers online services 24/7 from home for all its library cardholders. Resources include online books, music, movies and TV shows. The library is offering story-time, crafts and tutorials on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • For more information visit elpasopubliclibrary.org.

El Paso Museums (Archaeology, Art and History)

  • The Museum of Art’s more than 7,000 American, European, Latin American, and Modern & Contemporary art can be viewed at epma.art.
  • The Museum of History has access and opportunities to explore El Paso History through time periods, neighborhoods, or themes on the digital wall archive by visiting digie.org. Additional activities including recipes and coloring pages inspired by exhibits can be printed and completed from home.
  • The Museum of Archaeology has engaging pictures, lectures, discussions and unique posts on its Facebook page.
  • El Paso Zoo – “Sofa Safari” launches on March 19, every weekday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on its Facebook page. Sofa Safari gives everyone a chance to virtually meet a zoo animal and ask the zookeeper questions about the amazing creatures they care for.

El Paso Animal Services Impact

The Animal Services facilities affected by the closure include the Animal Services Center (5001 Fred Wilson), Mission Valley Adoption Center (9068 Socorro), and Field Services Building (4501 Hondo Pass). The public closure will result in several operational changes that will allow Animal Services to provide certain services on a limited or emergency basis:

Operational Changes:

  • Animal Protection Officers will only respond to high-priority calls. This includes: EPPD/EPFD assistance calls, sick and/or injured animals, cruelty, neglect, rabies, quarantine/bite investigations, traffic hazards, and aggressive animals.
  • The department will not accept any stray animals from the public that are brought to the shelter or reported to 311.
  • Owner reclaims, adoptions, fosters and pet pantry services will be facilitated by phone only and fulfilled by curbside service or home delivery:
    • For owner reclaims, dial 915-212-8741
    • For adoptions, dial 915-212-8705
    • For foster, dial 915-212-8732
    • For pet pantry, dial 915-212-8735
    • Phone lines will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m
  • During this closure, the community is encouraged to help reunite lost pets with their owners by taking these steps:
  • Submit a “Found Animal Report” by calling 311.
  • Take the animal to any El Paso fire station, veterinarian, or emergency animal hospital to have the pet scanned for a microchip.
  • Post the pet as found on sites like Nextdoor, Craigslist and Lost and Found Pet pages on Facebook.
  • Hang flyers where the pet was found, as most pets are found less than a mile or two from their home.
  • For any updates related to the department’s closure or services, please visit www.elpasoanimalservices.org

A complete list of closures, cancellations, and suspensions can be found on the COVID-19 banner at elpasotexas.gov.  In addition, for more information on COVID-19, visit elpasotexas.govEPHealth.comEPSalud.com. Additionally the 2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Center is available 24/7. Caller can dial 2-1-1 and select option 6.

***

***Simon – parent company of Cielo Vista Mall – announces closure of all properties starting at 7p (3/18/2020)

Cielo Vista Mall, along with all other Simon Properties across the nation, will be closing at 7pm Wednesday night.  Below is the statement from Simon Properties.

Simon, announced that after extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials and in recognition of the need to address the spread of COVID-19, Simon will close all of its retail properties, including Malls, Premium Outlets and Mills in the U.S.  This measure will take effect from 7 pm local time today and will end on March 29.

“The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees is of paramount importance and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said David Simon, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Simon.

***Gov. Greg Abbott on Texas bars and restaurants: Expect an announcement Thursday  (3/18/2020)

Gov. Greg Abbott says he will make an announcement Thursday about potential further statewide action to combat the new coronavirus, acknowledging that the spread of COVID-19 in Texas has increased dramatically over the past several days.

His remarks came in response to a reporter’s question Wednesday about whether he plans to shut down bars and restaurants statewide. Abbott has previously deferred to local governments on how to handle such closures, which has been part of the governor’s broader strategy so far in responding to the pandemic.

Earlier this week, various cities and counties in areas such as Houston, Dallas and Austin ordered restaurants and bars to close to in-house patrons.

“Traditionally, the way disaster response works is that a governor will issue a disaster declaration, and that empowers local jurisdictions,” Abbott said at a news conference in Arlington, where he was joined by local and state officials. “We’re dealing with something, however, that is not just statewide in scope, not just nationwide in scope, but is worldwide in scope. I will be providing an announcement tomorrow that addresses all of this.”

To read the complete article from our partners over at the Texas Tribune, click here

***

***NM Governor issues Public Emergency Order, Various public establishments must be closed (3/18/2020)

On Wednesday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a sweeping new Public Emergency order to halt the spread of the Coronavirus in her state.  Starting Thursday, March 19:

All restaurants in New Mexico to be limited to take-out and food delivery,

Shopping malls, movie theaters, recreational facilities, spas and athletic clubs must close.

Casinos, not operated by Tribal authorities, bars and horse racing operations will also be forced to close. (While the Governor does not have the authority to force tribes to close their casinos, most have already agreed to do so.)

Hotels and motels can operate at 50 percent of capacity.

The order is in effect until April 10, but could be extended if necessary; Officials added that anyone not complying with the order could face civil penalties.

New Mexico COVID-19 cases: Now at 28

***

***Remainder of UTEP Spring Football Cancelled / Athletics Facilities Closed to Student-Athletes (3/18/2020)

UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter announced on Wednesday that the UTEP football team’s remaining spring practices, and the 2020 Spring Game, have been cancelled.

UTEP athletics facilities will be closed to student-athletes indefinitely beginning at 5 p.m. today and student-athletes will not be allowed to work out on campus.

“These measures have been taken with the safety of our student-athletes as the highest priority,” Senter said.  “We continue to preach to all of our student-athletes and staff the importance of practicing social distancing and good hygiene during this unprecedented time.”

***

***USL Championship extends Temporary Suspension of Season through May 10th (3/18/2020)

The United Soccer League announced today, following approval from the USL Championship’s Board of Governors, that the previously announced 30-day temporary suspension of play in the Championship will be extended to align with recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on restricting public gatherings of 50 or more people through Sunday, May 10th.

As a club, El Paso Locomotive FC thoroughly supports USL in its decision to extend the temporary suspension. The safety, health and well-being of our supporters, players, staff and greater community remains our highest priority. We will continue to closely monitor the ongoing developments surrounding COVID-19 and work closely with local, regional, and national health and governmental agencies.

We appreciate the ongoing support, patience, and understanding of our fans throughout these unprecedented circumstances. Locomotive FC will continue to provide updates on the 2020 USL Championship season as they become available. Remember to care for one another, stay safe and stay healthy.

***

***President Trump provides nation with update on battle against Coronavirus (3/18/2020)

During his daily update to the nation, President Donald Trump outlined several new policy points, as well as actions the administration will be undertaking in the hours and days to come.

Earlier on Wednesday, President Trump tweeted that by “mutual consent” the U.S. would be temporarily closing the northern border with Canada to non-essential traffic, adding that trade will not be affected, as the number of U.S.  During the news conference, the president said a decision on the Southern border would be made “by this afternoon.”

“We’ll be invoking the Defense Production Act, just in case we need it,” Trump said.  The Defense Production Act allows the administration to force American industry to manufacture medical supplies that are in short supply in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have it’s not enough,” Trump added.

As for the proposed economic stimulus package for everyday Americans, progress was noted, but specifics were not revealed.

When asked during the briefing, President Trump did not place a dollar amount on the payments, although the Treasury Department proposed that the payment amounts should be fixed and tiered, based on income level and family size, and each round of payments would be identical in amount.

“We are also playing with a lot of numbers, a lot of very big numbers and a lot of very small numbers, frankly,” Trump said. “We have to help everybody. It was nobody’s fault. This happened. I mean, some people could say it was somebody’s fault, actually. But it was nobody’s fault, and certainly none of these companies that all of a sudden had no passengers in planes and had no passengers on cruise ships, and all of the things that have happened, but I will say that they can’t be blamed for this. And we want to keep those companies vibrant.”

Late Tuesday evening, the administration requested $45.8 bn more from Congress – in addition to the trillion-dollar package currently being negotiated – in order to cover unanticipated costs for an array of federal agencies fighting COVID-19.

To view the entire briefing, click here.

***

***Workforce Solutions Borderplex Centers move to Remote Assistance, Only Resource Rooms Open to Public (3/18/2020)

 In response to concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Workforce Solutions Borderplex (WSB) announces a closure update for its job centers effective March 18th.

WSB has moved to complete remote assistance to its clients and the greater Borderplex community. All centers, excluding those listed below, will be closed to the public for case management and in-office visits as they implement the federal guideline of social distancing.

Only resource rooms at all centers are open during regular hours for internet, printing and computer access.   The following centers will remain open and can service 5 clients at a time.

North Loop Center

8825 N. Loop, Ste. 122, El Paso, TX 79907
Hours:  Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Northeast Center

8941 Dyer St., El Paso, TX 79904

Hours:  Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Military Affiliated Satellite Center

Building 503 B, Basement Room 2, Ft. Bliss, TX 79906

Hours:  Monday-Friday from 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM

In addition, WSB offers a Workforce Guidance Video and Frequently Asked Questions download to assist those with questions.

***

***Jewel Box Series postpones last two shows of season  (3/18/2020)

The El Paso Community Foundation Jewel Box Series at the Philanthropy Theatre has postponed the final two shows of its sixth season out of an abundance of caution concerning the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Eden Enterprises’ Classic Campesino was scheduled for April 19 in the Philanthropy Theatre in the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Centre.

The Southwest Songwriter Series was set for May 10 in the Philanthropy Theatre.

Both shows will be rescheduled for the Jewel Box Series’ 2020-2021 season.

Classic Campesino was to feature two classic one-acts by playwright Luis Valdez.

The Southwest Songwriter Series was to showcase singer-songwriters Doug Adamz, Teresa Tudury and Gene Keller.

Individual ticket refunds are available at the point of purchase. Ticket holders also may keep their tickets for use at the rescheduled performances.

Season ticket holders should call or email Kathrin Berg at 915-533-4020 or kberg@epcf.org for more information.

The Jewel Box Series is produced in partnership with El Paso Live. The 191-seat Philanthropy Theatre is located above the Plaza Theatre box office on the second floor of the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Centre annex.

Submissions for the Jewel Box Series’ 2020-2021 season should be available this summer.

***

***El Paso Locomotive head coach Mark Lowry pens letter to fans and the city (3/18/2020)

Wednesday morning, Locomotive Head Coach Mark Lowry wrote and released a letter to fans, sharing his feelings during this historic time.  Among other messages, Lowry shared, “El Paso, look after each other, and we will see you soon”

***

***Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, @WACsports cancels remainder of 2020 spring competitions. (3/18/2020)

***

***UTEP students living on campus asked to leave by 3/29 (3/17/2020)

Tuesday evening, UTEP students with residences on campus learned they would have to move off campus by March 29.  The message was shared social media platforms.

The message below was sent via the UTEP Housing and Resident Life Instagram account:

Housing and Residence Life staff continue to work with campus partners on UTEP’s response to COVID-19.  Effective immediately, all residents are asked to make arrangements to move out of campus housing by ‪5:00 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020‬. Students who do not have a suitable alternative should contact their Residence Life Coordinator for further information. Exceptions  will be made on a case-by-case basis. We are working closely with UT System and campus partners on a credit or prorated refund of housing expenses.  More information will be released soon.

Given the situation, we will be offering express check-out. Further guidance will be shared with you tomorrow about this process.

We understand that this is unexpected news, but the health and safety of our students is a top priority.  General questions can be sent to housing@utep.edu.

***

***Tornillo, San Elizario School Districts to hold emergency meetings to discuss, react to Coronavirus (3/17/2020)

Both Tornillo ISD and San Elizario ISD will hold emergency meetings this week to discuss and act on several measures as a result of the on going Coronavirus emergency.

On Thursday, March 19, SEISD will meet to discuss employee compensation and emergency purchases during the district’s closure. This meeting is set to start at 9 a.m.  To read the SEISD agenda, click here.

On Friday, March 20, TISD will meet at 10 a.m. in the morning to discuss the emergency purchase of laptops to assist in distance learning, as well as employee compensation, among other items. To read the TISD agenda, click here.

***

***Diocese of Las Cruces modifies Funeral Mass requirements (3/17/2020)

Upon further prayer and reflection, Bishop Baldacchino has revised the suspension of funeral Masses. Funerals will be celebrated in a private manner with only the immediate family present (less than 10 people).

***

***Cielo Vista, Sunland Park Malls adjust hours due to Coronavirus; Outlet Shoppes of El Paso, Fountains at Farah have regular operating hours (3/17/2020)

The city’s two largest malls have made adjustments to their operating hours, as a result of the fallout from the Coronavirus and related closures.  As far as the Outlet Shoppes of El Paso and Fountains at Farah, there have been updates to their operating hours.

Via a Facebook post, Sunland Park Mall officials announced their new hours would be as follows:

Monday – Saturday (11:00am – 7:00pm)  |  Sunday (12:00pm – 6:00pm)

On their webpage, Cielo Vista Mall officials posted the following statement:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

***El Paso City Council orders all bars, clubs to close; Restaurants given new guidelines to remain open (3/17/2020)

Late this afternoon the El Paso City Council unanimously agreed to enact an ordinance aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Effective immediately tonight all bars, lounges, taverns, arcades, and private clubs shall close and remain closed for at least two weeks.

In addition, restaurants must reduce their capacity to half of their maximum occupancy. Restaurant owners should also ensure a maximum of six persons per table with at least six feet between tables.

Restaurants which are combined with a bar area may remain open but the bar area should only be used to extend the food service area while maintaining the social distancing requirements.

Dr. Hector Ocaranza presented the plan to City Council who acknowledged the fact that financial assistance and housing and utility security will be needed in order to minimize the effect of the loss of income to those affected. Ocaranza says the decision was difficult but necessary during this pandemic.

“These emergency orders are being implemented to help halt the spread of COVID-19. For these measures to be as effective as possible, it is important that residents of all ages answer the call to remain at home unless they need to leave as a necessity,” Ocaranza said. “Our public health team and City Council are doing everything in their power to ensure the community’s health, and everyone must do their part as well to help stop this pandemic.”

Ocaranza also issued orders related to workplaces, senior centers, and day care centers.

Further information and details are available at www.EPHealth.com at the COVID-19 page.

Message from Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority  | Link to all closures & guidelines 

***

***EPWater suspends disconnections for non-payment (3/17/2020)

El Paso Water will suspend service disconnections for non-payment on March 18, 2020 until further notice. In 60 days, the utility will reassess the suspension timeline.

“We understand that access to water is essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said John Balliew, EPWater President and CEO. “One of the most important safeguards to prevent the spread of virus is handwashing, and this step will help our customers keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.”

Customers will be responsible for the full bill amount accrued until payment is made. Customers are encouraged to pay bills online or by phone. Go to epwater.org for details. EPWater’s Customer Service Center has been temporarily closed to limit in-person interactions and protect the health of both employees and customers.

Customers who already may have been disconnected and wish to be reconnected during this period can contact the utility via email at customer.service@epwater.org or by phone at 915- 594-5500 to arrange for service to be restored.

***

***El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank: 80 volunteers needed; Monetary donations requested (3/17/2020)

Tuesday afternoon, officials with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank put out a call for assistance, as the organization is in need of community members to help distribute food to the elderly during this difficult time.

What follows is their statement.  To help EPFH, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Miranda Chapman, at 915-247-0257 or by email at volunteer@epfhfb.org or visit their website.

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank is working during this incredibly challenging time to ensure that those who are most vulnerable in our communities be able to get the food they need. We are focusing our initial response on the seniors who have been negatively impacted by the closing of 12 city run senior centers and 8 county run senior centers.

To read the complete article, click here.

***

*** UTEP Spring Commencement Postponed Until Fall (3/17/2020)

In accordance with the guidance of The University of Texas System, The University of Texas at El Paso will postpone spring Commencement ceremonies.

Graduating students will receive their degrees as scheduled, but the ceremonies will not take place until the fall. The date in the fall will be announced as soon as that decision is made.

The decision follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for large gatherings.

***

***El Paso Municipal Court Cancellations to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 (3/17/2020)

Out of an abundance of caution and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the El Paso Municipal Court will cancel and automatically reset hearings scheduled through Friday, April 3, at 810 East Overland (notices will be mailed out once a new hearing is set).

The Court encourages people not to come to court if they have traveled internationally, have come in contact with a person with COVID-19, believe they may have COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19 or have flu-like symptoms or a fever.

Residents are urged to call or email the court to reschedule a hearing. The Court also encourages attorneys who know that clients, witnesses, or others have such a condition to alert the court in advance.

The following will be in effect at the court through Friday, April 3:

  • No Jury Trials scheduled for March 26 and 27. Jurors do not appear and are excused.
  • Northeast Hearings at 9600 Dyer remain in session. Individuals are encouraged to utilize video arraignment option at 10780-A Pebble Hills, 4801 Osborne or 9011 Escobar to speak with the judge.
  • Parking Adjudication Hearings at 810 E. Overland are remain in session. Scheduled individuals are expected to appear.
  • All Municipal Court activities to include Juvenile Case Management Classes, Youth Delinquency Prevention Classes, and Teen Court will be suspended in March and April.

The following options are available to stay up to date with the El Paso Municipal Court:

***

***Area Hospital visitation rules courtesy City of El Paso (3/17/2020)

The Hospitals of Providence
Visitations are limited to one visitor per patient at a time beginning March 16, 2020.
Visitor must be 18 years of age or older.

University Medical Center
Visitations reduced to 1 essential visitor beginning March 17, 2020.
Visitor must be 18 years of age or older.
Waiting in the lobby is suspended until further notice.

El Paso Children’s Hospital
Anyone younger than 18 years of age is not allowed in the facility.
Number of visitors limited to 1 person per room.

Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare
Visitors will be screened and restricted at entrance starting March 15, 2020.
Visiting hours changed from 6AM – 8PM

***

***Cinemark Theatres announces temporary closure of all theatres until further notice. (3/17/2020)

All of our theatres will be temporarily closed as of Wednesday, March 18, in order to ensure the health & safety of our guests and employees.

Please check back for updates. We look forward to welcoming you to the movies again soon.

***

***Opportunity Center releases Homeless COVID-19 Response (3/17/2020)

The community concerns over Coronavirus/COVID-19 (C-19) have led the Opportunity Center for the Homeless and its co-located partners to include West Texas Non-Profit Developments to implement immediate adjustments to shelter operations as a sensible precaution in order to protect our clients, donors, volunteers, and employees.

In contrast to other service providers who are curtailing services to the homeless community, we will remain open 24/7 and will continue accepting in-kind donations to provide services for those who turn to us in their time of need.

In order to provide an appropriate response to the current state of affairs the shelter has implemented the following changes.

  • Protocols under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for homeless shelters have been implemented.
  • Clients seeking services in our facilities are asked to exercise caution and practice good hygiene habits – including washing hands frequently, avoid touching eyes, mouth, and nose, and practice good respiratory hygiene.
  • Sleeping arrangements have been modified to ensure maximum distance is observed.
  • Additional screening questions had been added during the intake process.
  • Sitting arrangements in the dinner areas during mealtime has been modified.
  • Essential personnel will perform duties as required.
  • Meal serving will be handled internally. Volunteer groups who regularly participate in the food share committee and come to the shelters to serve meals are being asked to donate the meals already prepared to the shelter.
  • Food will be served in carry-out plates for all homeless individuals.
  • Isolation rooms have been identified – if needed.

We provide services to a highly transitory population, and the homeless community in regards to the coronavirus circumstances have been labeled as a ‘silent population” because outbreaks are recognized more slowly in that group than in groups that have better access to medical care.  As a direct result, we are working closely with a co-located health clinic operated by Centro San Vicente in addition to Aliviane.

The two shelters typically serve over 150 per evening.  Of those seeking shelter, many have only been in El Paso for a short period of time.  Additionally, over 40% of the population we serve is over the age of 51.

Of these individuals roughly half of them are over the age of 61.

We will continue monitoring the situation and will follow the guidelines and suggestions from our local health authorities.

Our response to COVID19 will require that we put in place additional resources to include staff to care for the homeless.  The community is asked, at this time, to consider supporting us financially to offset these costs.

Donations can be made online at www.homelessopportunitycenter.org.

***

***Texas coronavirus cases prompt Gov. Greg Abbott to activate National Guard (3/17/2020)

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he is activating the Texas National Guard in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak in the state, which had at least 69 positive cases as of Tuesday morning. While there is no need to deploy them yet, he said, Guard members will be standing ready.

First responders and health care workers will be excluded from the activation, he said.

To read the entire story, click here.

***

***TxDOT Taking COVID-19 Action to Keep Employees and Public Safe (3/17/2020)

Efforts include travel center lobby closures, canceling in-person public meetings, safety messages, and a telework directive for office employees

TxDOT is acting to help reduce the risk of COVID-19. On Friday and over the weekend the department took several steps to protect the public and TxDOT employees. At the same time, TxDOT remains committed to delivering services to its customers all over the Lone Star State.

Given the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to cancel gatherings of 50 or more people and the request from President Donald Trump to avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, TxDOT is postponing or canceling its in-person public hearings and gatherings through April 3. That date is subject to change. This excludes the Texas Transportation Commission meeting on March 26, 2020, which will be addressed separately. When possible TxDOT will look to offer virtual participation strategies for public input.

Work on projects to improve our transportation system continues, as does TxDOT’s ongoing work to maintain and operate our state’s transportation system, to include ferry operations.

TxDOT has closed the lobbies of its 12 Travel Information Centers until further notice to help combat the threat of COVID-19. Outside restrooms will remain available at all times and will be regularly cleaned between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The safety rest areas on highways throughout the state remain open. These provide important rest stops for drivers.

Travelers can also still speak with our center counselors about road conditions or travel information between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Anyone can call 1-800-452-9292 or visit drivetexas.org to obtain road condition information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As awareness is key, on Saturday, March 14, TxDOT began sharing safety messages on its digital highway signs throughout the state. These messages include, “Give Xtra Space, With Each Other, And On The Road” and “Hands Clean, 2 Beat Covid-19, Be on TX Team.” These are short, easy to read messages to help reinforce the importance of preventing the spread of the virus.

In conjunction with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration related to COVID-19, TxDOT is also requiring its office-based employees to telework beginning March 16.

Teleworking has been an option for TxDOT office-based employees for several years now, and with this temporary new directive, TxDOT will continue serving the state’s transportation needs. TxDOT’s number one priority is always safety, and the agency is in constant contact with state health and emergency management officials to do its part during this global health situation.

Visit the COVID-19 website of the Texas Department of State Health Services on the web for the most up to date information and guidance from state health officials.

***

*** “A Place to Stay Tour for Foster Awareness” Concert postponed  (3/17/2020)

Radney Foster and Kyle Hutton Postpone “A Place to Stay Tour for Foster Awareness” in El Paso, March 29 at the Rock Faith Church Center

Amid public health concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19),  Radney Foster and Kyle Hutton will postpone their date for the “A Place To Stay Tour For Foster Awareness” on March 29 in El Paso at Rock Faith Center Church.

The Texas-wide free concert tour, which is presented by the The Real Life Real Music Foundationplans to reschedule the El Paso show later this year. For regularly updated tour news and additional tour announcements, please visit www.aplacetostaytx.org.

***

***AMC Theater Chain announces closure of all locations across the US (3/17/2020)

Via a statement posted on their Facebook page, AMC announced the closure of all their theaters starting today.

Effective today, all 630 AMC locations in the country will close for at least six to 12 weeks, in compliance with local, state and federal directives, and as a precaution to help ensure the health and safety of our guests and theatre staff. AMC Stubs A-List memberships will be paused automatically during the time AMC Theatres are closed.

For home entertainment, please consider #AMCTheatresOnDemand, featuring over 3,500 movie titles.

We will continue to monitor this situation very closely and look forward to the day we can again delight moviegoers nationwide by reopening AMC movie theatres.

***

***International Museum of Art to close 3/18 thru 4/1, Sunset Film Society events cancelled. (3/17/2020)

Because of recent events, The International Museum of Art will be closed starting this Wednesday, March 18th to Wednesday, April 1st.

We thank everyone for understanding and for doing our parts in keeping El Paso safe and healthy.

This also means the Sunset Film Society’s movie presentation of  ‘Lonely are the Brave’ on March 21st and their  Kermezaar  April 4th & 5th are canceled.

***

***Statement from El Paso Water John Balliew (3/17/2020)

President and CEO John Balliew speaks to the safety and reliability of El Paso tap water

El Paso is a resilient city, with the inherent disposition to help, lift up and overcome. As the concern grows about Coronavirus (COVID-19), I’m troubled about the emergence of people who are trying to profit from the fears of many. We are seeing many comments on social media implying that El Paso Water is unsafe to drink, and encouraging people to stockpile bottled water or purchase a filter.

As President and CEO of El Paso Water, a chemical engineer and a father of 3, let me reassure all El Pasoans that our water is clean and safe to drink. All EPWater employees have a vested interest in making sure our region’s water is of the highest-quality because we are customers too.

You can count on our services. EPWater has a plan to keep critical facilities staffed and operational 24/7/365. We place the highest value on safe drinking water. Our employees work around the clock, treating and monitoring water to ensure it is safe, reliable and clean – all so you can trust your tap.

We actively monitor water quality and perform daily tests at our modern, accredited, International Water Quality Laboratory to make sure we go beyond strict standards in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Highly-trained specialists collect 45,000 samples from water treatment plants and perform 370,000 tests annually. All tests are shared with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which provides regulatory oversight.

You may hear reports from other organizations that have ulterior motives, which include selling filtration products, and I want you to remember this: EPWater will continue to provide healthy, safe, reliable water from the tap.

John Balliew

El Paso Water President and CEO

***

***Health Officials in Juarez announce first case of Coronavirus in the city (3/17/2020)

According to the State of Chihuahua’s Secretary of Health, Jesús Enrique Grajeda, the first case of COVID-19 has been found in Juarez.

Officials say the 29-year-old man had recently returned from trips to Europe – including Italy.   According to Dr. Grajeda, the man is now recovering at home.

With this most recent case, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in Mexico is 42.

***

***President Trump Expands Telehealth Benefits for Medicare Beneficiaries During COVID-19 Outbreak (3/17/2020)

The Trump Administration today announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.

Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare—administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country.

On March 13, 2020, President Trump announced an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act.

Consistent with President Trump’s emergency declaration, CMS is expanding Medicare’s telehealth benefits under the 1135 waiver authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. This guidance and other recent actions by CMS provide regulatory flexibility to ensure that all Americans—particularly high-risk individuals—are aware of easy-to-use, accessible benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Prior to this announcement, Medicare was only allowed to pay clinicians for telehealth services such as routine visits in certain circumstances. For example, the beneficiary receiving the services must live in a rural area and travel to a local medical facility to get telehealth services from a doctor in a remote location. In addition, the beneficiary would generally not be allowed to receive telehealth services in their home.

The Trump Administration previously expanded telehealth benefits. Over the last two years, Medicare expanded the ability for clinicians to have brief check-ins with their patients through phone, video chat and online patient portals, referred to as “virtual check-ins”. These services are already available to beneficiaries and their physicians, providing a great deal of flexibility, and an easy way for patients who are concerned about illness to remain in their home avoiding exposure to others.

A range of healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, will be able to offer telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will be able to receive telehealth services in any healthcare facility including a physician’s office, hospital, nursing home or rural health clinic, as well as from their homes.

Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive various services through telehealth including common office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings. This will help ensure Medicare beneficiaries, who are at a higher risk for COVID-19, are able to visit with their doctor from their home, without having to go to a doctor’s office or hospital which puts themselves or others at risk.

This change broadens telehealth flexibility without regard to the diagnosis of the beneficiary, because at this critical point it is important to ensure beneficiaries are following guidance from the CDC including practicing social distancing to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

This change will help prevent vulnerable beneficiaries from unnecessarily entering a healthcare facility when their needs can be met remotely.

For more information, click here

***

***Toby Mac announces rescheduled dates for concerts postponed due to Coronavirus measures.  (3/17/2020)

On Tuesday, Toby Mac tour promoters released a list of new dates for his concerts that were postponed due to the Corona virus precautions.  Mac is now scheduled to play in El Paso on August 18th at the Haskins Center

All tickets purchased for the previous concert date will be honored for the new dates.

***

***The Hospitals of Providence update their visitation rules (3/17/2020)

Via a social media post, officials with the Hospitals of Providence released their updated guidelines for visitations  in their facilities.

For the continued safety of our patients and staff beginning today, visitation is limited to 1 visitor per patient. Visitors 17 and under are not permitted to visit. Thank you for your understanding during this time.

***

***Workforce Solutions Borderplex Shares Updated Job Center Information   (3/16/2020)

In response to concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Workforce Solutions Borderplex (WSB) has provided an update to accessibility to its job centers effective March 16th.

WSB has established a system for remote assistance to its clients. They are working with state officials to minimize impact for existing program participants and benefits recipients requires to make in-office visits as the organization implemented by federal “social distancing” guidelines.

The following locations will stay open with regular hours.  Please note that these locations will only be able to service 10 clients at a time.

North Loop Center

8825 N. Loop, Ste. 122
El Paso, TX 79907
915-887-2600

Hours:  Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Northeast Center

8941 Dyer St.
El Paso, TX 79904
915-887-2600

Hours:  Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

The following locations will be closed until further notice.  Services can be provided remotely by calling staff at 915-887-2600.  The Presidio, Alpine and Marfa locations will be available at the phone numbers listed.

Downtown Center

First Floor, inside the Main Library
501 N. Oregon Street

El Paso, TX 79901

Military Affiliated Satellite Center

Building 503 B, Basement Room 2
Ft. Bliss, TX 79906

Horizon Center

13998 Horizon Blvd. Suite 110 – 120
Horizon City, TX 79928

Job Link Site

6351 South Desert
El Paso, TX 79932

Presidio Center

701 E Market, Suite 6B
Presidio, TX 79845
432-837-9800

Alpine Center

Ward Center Plaza
710 E. Holland, Ste. 2
Alpine, TX 79830

432-837-9800

Marfa Pop-Up

Marfa City Hall
432-837-9800

***

***Diocese of El Paso ‘weighing options’ regarding Mass; Diocese of Las Cruces Suspends the Public Celebration of Masses (3/16/2020)

Message from the Diocese of El Paso –

In coordination with local city and county officials, the Diocese of El Paso is in the process of weighing options on next steps for the well being of our parishioners, employees and clergy.

We are asking our Catholic Faith Community to download the MyParish app by texting app 88202 so that they can stay up to date on the latest decisions in the coming days from The Diocese of El Paso.

Message from the Diocese of Las Cruces –

With the foremost concern for our Parish community and recognizing the importance of social distancing in containing the spread of COVID-19, Bishop Baldacchino has made the difficult but necessary decision to temporarily suspend the public celebration of Mass including weddings and funerals.

In addition, all parish events such as baptism and marriage preparation classes, group meetings, etc. are suspended.

The Pastoral Center is currently transitioning to a limited-service operation. During this period, the Pastoral Center will operate with minimal staff on-site and some employees working remotely.

Although the Pastoral Center doors will be locked, personnel will be accessible by phone and email. This will allow for social distancing while minimizing foot traffic throughout the building.

During this time the faithful are encouraged to pray individually or as a family, with the Liturgy of the Hours, reading scripture, reciting the Rosary, and with other means.

Spiritual resources, including a Family Home Celebration During Suspension of Mass, are posted on the diocesan homepage.

***

***El Paso Comic Con (EPCON) provides update on upcoming event (3/16/2020)

Officials with the annual El Paso Comic Con released an online statement on the upcoming event

***

***BorderTown Underground provides update on status of upcoming shows (3/16/2020)

***

***UTEP student ID’d as 3rd Coronavirus case in El Paso (3/16/2020)

Monday evening, UTEP officials sent out an email regarding the city’s 3rd Coronavirus case.  The brief update only identified the female student by her recent actions.  The email follows in its entirety:

A female student at The University of Texas at El Paso who returned from extended overseas travel Saturday night, March 14, went directly into self-isolation as directed by UTEP’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety. On Monday, she tested positive for COVID-19.

She has not been on campus since her return to El Paso.

All UTEP students returning from overseas travel were contacted while overseas and told to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

Campus officials and support services are in contact by phone with the student on a daily basis.

For more the latest updates on the University’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit www.utep.edu/coronavirus.

***

***El Paso’s 3rd positive case of Coronavirus Identified (3/16/2020)

Less than 24 hours after the second presumptive positive case of COVID-19 was announced, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the third positive test result for COVID-19 in El Paso County, including Fort Bliss. (As per CDC guidance cases will not be considered presumptive positive and simply be referred to as cases.)

The patient is a female in her late teens who recently traveled abroad. She is currently recovering at home.

Results of that investigation will be used to identify any close contacts who may have been exposed by the patient and determine whether any further testing of close contacts needs to take place.

“As more El Pasoans begin to qualify for testing, we will begin to see more presumptive positive cases,” said Angela Mora, Interim Assistant Public Health Director. “While we wish we didn’t have more positives, it is a good sign that the system in place is working and that we are being effective in helping to prevent the spread of this disease.”

The public is reminded that COVID-19 is not an airborne disease and is spread primarily via coughs and sneezes of those already infected. Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization.

However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.

DPH officials continue to urge residents to follow prevention measures and stay up-to-date with the latest information by subscribing to both the City and DPH social media platforms, and to visit www.EPHealth.com or Referral Center is available 24/7. Callers can dial 2-1-1 and select option six for more information.

Message from the Department of Public Health

***

***Clint ISD Closure March 23 – April 3 due to Coronavirus; 

As we continue to monitor the chain of events and stay abreast of all incoming information regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the health and well-being of our students and staff is a top priority for Clint ISD.

Due to continued developments regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and out of an abundance of caution, Clint Independent School District will be closed March 23, 2020 – April 3, 2020. 

Students and employees will return on Monday, April 6, 2020.

During the closure, teachers and essential staff will be asked to report to work and/or work from home in order to support continued instruction and district operations. Supervisors will be communicating this information.

Clint ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution on March 16, 2020 to compensate employees during this time. (see letter from Superintendent Dr. Juan I. Martinez to Clint ISD employees below)

District officials are currently working on a learning plan and a meal service distribution plan. Those plans and details will be communicated to parents and posted on the district’s website as soon as they become available.

Any employee who travels outside of the El Paso Tri-City area which includes El Paso, Las Cruces, Juarez will be required to notify their supervisor before returning to work.

Travelers, employees or students, returning from outside of the Tri-city area or who are symptomatic or have been exposed to Coronavirus will be required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days before returning to school or work.

As our local, state and federal government response to the Coronavirus pandemic evolves, decisions made by Clint ISD will also continue to be revised and readjusted to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Please visit CISD’s website or follow us on social media for updates.

***

***Socorro ISD approves policy to pay district employees during closure; Will offer free meals to ALL students via pickup service at ALL traditional schools during district closure (3/16/2020)

Socorro ISD administration recommended and Trustees unanimously approved updates to policy DEA (Local) – which allow the district to ensure all district employees are paid during the district closure.

This unprecedented action will require the district to work through many details to ensure district employees are taken care of. We ask for your patience as details are finalized and communicated. Here is what has been confirmed at this time:

Non Exempt (Hourly) Employees & Substitutes
Non Exempt employees that are deemed essential and asked by their supervisor to work during the closure will be compensated at time and a half. Non Exempt full time employees that do not work during the closure will be compensated at their regular rate. Non exempt part time employees and substitutes that do not work during the closure will be paid using their average hours worked January and February 2020. Any reported absences by essential and non essential employees will be canceled during the closure period.

Exempt (Salary) Employees
Exempt employees that are deemed essential and asked by the supervisor to work during the closure will be compensated at their regular rate. Non essential employees will be off during the closure and will be compensated at their regular rate. Any reported absences by essential and non essential employees will be canceled during the closure period.

-+-

SISD will provide breakfast and lunch service March 24-27, 2020 and March 30, 2020 through April 3, 2020. The meals will be made available at all schools in Team SISD to pick up and take home.

The weekday service will be available from 8 to 9 a.m. for breakfast and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch at all elementary, K-8, middle and high schools in the district. Service will be available via a drive-through or walk-up process. Meals will be provided for children who walk up to pick-up their meals or who are in the vehicles in the drive-through line. Meals will be provided for all children 18 years old or under in a household, regardless of where they reside or income qualifications.

Note: Food services are traditionally not offered during the second week of Spring intersession, which this year is March 16-20, 2020. March 23, 2020 also was scheduled as a staff development day, as such, food service will not be available this day. District staff will use this day to prepare for service the following days.

We will continue to update the community on how we will provide food services throughout the closure of our schools. Please watch for updates on the district website and social media.

***

***Conference USA officially cancels all spring sports and championships

DALLAS – Effective immediately by a unanimous vote of the Conference USA Board of Directors, all spring sport competition and championships have been canceled.

***

***McDonald’s USA to Serve Customers through Drive-Thru, Walk-In Take-Out and McDelivery (3/16/2020)

Ensuring the health and safety of our people and our communities is our highest priority as the United States quickly mobilizes to slow the spread of COVID-19. Our decisions are guided by expert local and national health authority guidance. Additionally, we are complying with all local and state restaurant restrictions, where applicable.

During this time, it’s important that we are available for all guests who rely on McDonald’s. To align with increasing regulations throughout the country, effective at the close of business today, McDonald’s USA company-owned restaurants will close seating areas, including the use of self-service beverage bars and kiosks, and shift our focus to serving customers through Drive-Thru, walk-in take-out and McDelivery.

This decision allows for customers without access to a Drive-Thru and those unable to use McDelivery to continue to have access to McDonald’s.

Additionally, we have made the decision to close all PlayPlaces at U.S. locations, also effective today.

Our independent franchisees continue to focus on the needs of their local communities and make safe and caring decisions. Franchisees are strongly encouraged to adopt similar operations procedures while keeping the needs of their people and communities at the center of their decisions. This guidance is supported by franchisee leadership and is expected to be adopted by the majority of franchisees.

We are committed to supporting our people through these extraordinary times and anticipate most crew members with scheduled shifts will be redeployed to support serving customers in the Drive-Thru, carry-out and McDelivery.

“It is remarkable how franchisees, suppliers, agencies and company employees have come together in recent days. During these uncertain times that impact all of us in personal ways, our ability to support each other, our people and our communities will ensure we emerge from this crisis stronger than before,” said Joe Erlinger, President of McDonald’s USA.

“Franchisee leadership completely supports the decision to adhere to social distancing guidelines and ensure that large groups of customers are not gathered together inside our restaurants. We are committed to our role in supporting the communities in which we do business and protecting the public’s health by shifting our operations to Drive-Thru, walk-in take-out and McDelivery.” – Mark Salebra, National Franchisee Leadership Alliance Chair.

If customers have questions about the status of their local McDonald’s, they are encouraged to contact their local restaurant.

We believe this temporary change is the right decision for our consumers, our communities, and our business and will continue to evaluate our operations as the situation evolves.

***

***El Paso Electric issues statement regarding Suspension of Service Disconnections (3/16/2020)

At El Paso Electric, we are continuously planning for various emergencies, and have been closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We want our customers to know that we have contingency plans in place to deal with any further impact to our region.

Our dedicated and hardworking employees remain committed to providing safe and reliable energy as our region comes together to mitigate and reduce exposure to this virus. We want to assure the public that we are ready to continue supporting our region’s energy needs and will make any necessary adjustments to our work and operations to do so.

Keeping the Lights On

Currently, we do not anticipate interruptions to our regular course of business and we will continue with our normal business hours in our call center and payment locations. We are implementing measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and are taking proactive steps to enhance our customers’ and our employees’ health and safety. Therefore, we highly encourage all customers to visit epelectric.com to view or pay your bill online or to find additional information and resources related to your electric service.

Suspension of Service Disconnections

We understand that this virus could have a financial impact on our community. Therefore, we have taken the following steps and offer the following information:

  • Until further notice, we have suspended service disconnections for nonpayment. We will continue to evaluate the impact created by this pandemic in our region. Please note that regular billing will continue for all customers.

Payment Assistance and Other Payment Options

  • If you have questions about our assistance programs, need to make payment arrangements, or explore other billing options, please contact our Customer Care Team by email at customercare@epelectric.com or by phone at (915) 543-5970 or (575) 526-5555.
  • While we are currently maintaining normal business hours at our payment locations, we remind customers of the resources available on our website at com for bill payment options and other information. Additionally, our Bill2Pay app is also available for download from the Apple Store and Google Play.

Scam Alert: Stop, Call, Verify.

Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of opportunities during times like this and we want to remind our customers to remain vigilant. Customers should watch for suspicious emails, phone calls, or persons impersonating employees or charitable organizations. Be aware of threats to shut off your service if payment isn’t made immediately. Always knowing what to look for and what to do is your best defense and if in doubt call our Customer Care Team at the numbers provided above.

We are closely following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines and recommendations on the steps we can take to help prevent the spread of the virus. We have shared specific health and safety instructions with our employees on the importance of personal hygiene staying home if they feel sick or are returning from an area posing a coronavirus-related risk.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide updates on any changes to our operations.

Thank you,

 

Adrian J. Rodriguez, Interim CEO

Adrian J. Rodriguez
Interim CEO

***

*** Council to Convene to Discuss COVID-19 Response (3/16/2020)

The City of El Paso has scheduled an emergency meeting of its City Council for the discussion and action of emergency ordinances related to COVID-19.

The Council will consider the following:

  1. Discussion and action on an Emergency Ordinance of the City of El Paso, Texas extending a disaster declaration due to a public health emergency.
  2. Discussion and action on an Emergency Ordinance instituting emergency measures due to a public health emergency, penalty as provided in Section 3 of the Ordinance.

The urgency of this item is that on March 13, 2020, the Governor of the State of Texas declared a state of disaster and the President of the United States of America declared a national emergency in relation to COVID-19.  On March 13, 2020, the Mayor of the City of El Paso issued a local emergency declaration.

On March 14, the President of the United States held an additional press conference relating to COVID-19, and on March 15, 2020, the CDC issued additional guidance in relation to the same.  Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the disease and emerging federal and state guidance, it is necessary that the City Council of El Paso consider and take action on emergency ordinances.

Who:               City Council

What:             City Council to Convene Emergency Meeting

Where:           Council Chambers, City 1 at 300 N. Campbell

When:             11 a.m., Tuesday, March 17, 2020

***

***Horizon City Mayor issues a Declaration of Local Disaster (3/16/2020)

Monday afternoon, Horizon City Mayor Ruben Mendoza issued a declaration of local disaster.  Mendoza stated, “In light of the recent decision by the White House to recommend limiting the number of individuals to ten people in groups and with continued uncertainty, I have signed the emergency declaration.”

Though there are no known reports of Coronavirus in Horizon City at this moment, the declaration allows Mayor Mendoza to enact other emergency actions in the event the community spread occurs here.

As of Monday (3/16) the only service impacted is the Horizon City Municipal Court. The Judge has cancelled court hearings for March, and future courts may be canceled upon further evaluation.

All other Horizon City municipal services will remain operational as usual, unless the circumstances change.

Mayor Mendoza added, “We urge our residents to remain aware of the current circumstances – locally and nationally – via the media and internet for future updates.

***

***Locally-owned grocery chain Vista Market sets special hours for older customers, releases information on COVID19 guidelines (3/16/2020)

IMPORTANT UPDATE: We will be opening from 6:30 a.m. – 7:00 a.m. to accommodate our 65 years and older customers. Regular business hours will be from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

***City of Socorro declares emergency due to coronavirus (3/16/2020)

In order to contain the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, the City of Socorro will be suspending Courts held at Socorro Municipal Courthouse and programs at the Rio Vista Community Center and Chayo Apodaca Community Center.

Payments for court may be made by phone: (915) 872-8574 or in person.

Additionally, all City events will be postponed until further notice.

***

***President Trump issues new guidelines for Americans during Monday afternoon news conference (3/16/2020)

The new guidelines for Americans include “engaging in home education, avoiding gatherings of more than 10, avoiding discretionary travel, and avoiding going to bars, restaurants and food courts.”

“My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than ten people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts,” President Trump said.

“If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus, and we are going to have a big celebration altogether. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly — a lot of progress has been made.”

A new website, Coronavirus.gov will have a full set of guidelines and information.

***

***City Daycare & Pre-School Closures Due to COVID-19 Safety Measures (3/16/2020)

Out of concern for the safety of El Paso families, the City will close Daycare and Pre-School programs at the Galatzan and Veterans Recreation Center effective Wednesday, March 18, until further notice.

The City understands that this presents a challenge to families, and has partnered with the YWCA Paso del Norte Region to provide service to affected families who wish to keep their children enrolled in early learning programs.

Until the Galatzan and Veterans Recreation Centers childcare programs re-open, children who are enrolled at these two facilities can register at the YWCA for the same fees currently offered by the Parks and Recreation Department. If families pre-paid their fees, the fees will transfer to the YWCA, if they choose to have their children attend the YWCA program.

Parents can find a YWCA in their neighborhood by contacting the YWCA online or call (915) 519-0000.

The Galatzan Recreation Center is located in west El Paso at 650 Wallenberg, and the Veterans Recreation is located in northeast El Paso at 5301 Salem.

In addition, the City parks, libraries, museums and zoo remain open; however, all special programming at these locations are suspended until further notice. All Senior Centers remain closed; however, meals for seniors will still be available beginning Tuesday, March 17.

A list of closures, cancellations, and suspensions can be found on the COVID-19 Information and Status banner .  In addition, for more information on COVID-19, visit elpasotexas.govEPHealth.comEPSalud.com.

Additionally the 2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Center is available 24/7. Caller can dial 2-1-1 and select option 6.

***

***Ysleta ISD will pay part-time & substitute employees during closure  (3/16/2020)

Via Twitter, YISD officials made the following announcement:

Pursuant to Board Policy DEA (Local) and in the best interest of all district employees, part-time & substitute employees will be compensated during the emergency closure.

With this in mind, we will average substitute pay for January and February and will compensate substitute teachers accordingly.

Part-time employees will be paid their regular salary unless they assist with sanitation measures and/or providing meals at which time they will be compensated at a rate of time and a half.

***

***NJCAA announces cancellation of all spring competition (3/16/2020)

The NJCAA – which EPCC is a member – announced the complete cancellation of spring sports for 2020.

Following the recent recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the NJCAA has made the difficult decision to cancel all upcoming basketball championships as well as spring competition, effective immediately.

“In light of the progressive evolvement of the COVID-19 situation, the NJCAA has decided to end all competition for the remainder of the academic year,” stated Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO. “As an association, the NJCAA exhausted all possible avenues to potentially postpone competition for both upcoming basketball championships and spring sport competition. We believe following the recommendations of the CDC is in the best interest of our member colleges and our student-athletes.”

Spring competition includes all practices, regular season, postseason, and national championship play.

Regarding eligibility for spring sports, no spring sport student-athlete who was enrolled at a member college in 2020 will be charged a year of participation.

Along with the cancellation of competition, all on and off-campus recruiting for all sports will be halted until April 15 with further evaluation to be assessed at that point in time.

The NJCAA will explore the opportunity to expand allowable Letters of Intent for spring sports for both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years under the recommendation of the NJCAA Eligibility Committee.

The NJCAA will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.

***

*** From New Mexico State University regarding student food pantry use  (3/16/2020)

NMSU and DACC students who may have been impacted by food shortages! They will be open during Spring Break. Food bags are distributed: Tuesdays 11 am – 1:30 pm & Thursdays 3 pm – 6 pm Bring your current NMSU ID and a reusable grocery bag/backpack Located at 906 GREGG ST

***

***Texas STAAR test requirements waived due to coronavirus outbreak (3/16/2020)

In an unprecedented move, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday he would waive testing requirements for this year’s STAAR exam, as many schools expect to be closed at least through the April testing window, due to the new coronavirus.

He also said he would ask the federal government to waive this year’s federal standardized testing requirements, which apply to all states.

According to the state, as of Sunday afternoon, 569 school districts had announced closures due to coronavirus concerns.

To read the entire story from our partners over at the Texas Tribune, click here.

***

***Alamo Drafthouse El Paso issues statement regarding preps during Coronavirus emergency (3/16/2020)

While health and safety standards and procedures are followed on a daily basis at every Alamo Drafthouse, we wanted to make you aware of the extra precautions we’re taking to ensure everyone stays healthy during this time of heightened concern.

Full info via the Alamo website

***

***University Medical Center reminds residents, physicians that site is not a Coronavirus test site; Emergency room rules (3/16/2020)

Via a series of Tweets, UMC officials reminded the public that the hospital is not a testing site for COVID-19 and the proper use of the Emergency Room.

It is important to know that University Medical Center of El Paso is NOT a testing site for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Testing is conducted by the Department of Health.

Our Emergency Room is for emergencies. Symptoms should FIRST be discussed with your primary care physician. Do not go to the emergency room unless you are in an emergency condition.

In doing so, you could delay care for people who may be in need of emergency services, from heart attacks to strokes to serious, life-threatening injuries.

Patients can and should be screened first by their primary care physician, NOT at the emergency room.

Community physicians should NOT be referring patients to the emergency room for screening. This could also result in well-but-curious patients becoming sick from other diseases carried by patients in the emergency room.

If you want or need additional information about this process, call the City of El Paso’s designated number at 211.

***

*** Locomotive FC Training Canceled (3/16/2020)

In the continued interest of the health and safety of all concerned, Locomotive training for this week has been canceled. The club will continue to closely monitor the developments surrounding COVID-19 locally, regionally and nationally to provide updates surrounding Locomotive FC.

***

***El Paso County Sheriff’s Office cancels Detention Officer Class graduation  (3/16/2020)

Please note, the upcoming graduation ceremony for Detention Officer Class 20-1 on Friday, March 20, has been CANCELLED; in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that in-person events that consist of 50 people or more be cancelled.

***

For official info on COVID-19 click on the links provided below: 

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

***

Hurd on the Hill: Tools to Get Americans Through The COVID-19 Pandemic

Small businesses feed, clothe and provide services to our community. They help us thrive, and they employ our friends, family and neighbors. But, today, so many of our small businesses are facing a challenging time because COVID-19 has and will continue to wreak havoc on our entire economy.

Many of us have taken the difficult, but essential decision to social-distance ourselves in order to help slow the spread of this deadly virus. We have forgone our usual daily activities, like going to work and school, dining out at our favorite restaurants, visiting our corner coffee spot or going to our favorite shops.

These decisions may seem like inconveniences to us, but they translate into so much more for the small businesses themselves, which are struggling. The entire business model for many of these community stores and restaurants are seemingly void until COVID-19 ceases to threaten the United States and our way of life.

While the normal business model isn’t working like it traditionally would, there is hope for many of these stores. Besides turning to online orders, store-pick up or other delivery options, these businesses can also use some of the resources Congress has created to provide financial relief and hope.

The bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act created tax credits to help businesses afford the reality of employees taking sick time or family leave due to school closures. These credits are for business with 51 to 500 employees to provide paid sick leave and paid family leave to their employees.

The government, in exchange, will provide a refundable payroll tax credit to employers to cover 100 percent of the cost of wages. Another piece of this legislation that can help the more than 8,400 small businesses in TX-23 are low-interest disaster loans. Congress provided the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) with the authorization to provide an estimated $7 billion in these loans to small businesses.

On Friday, the Small Business Administration extended its Economic Injury Disaster Declaration to include the entire State of Texas. This designation opens the process for Texas small businesses to apply for loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. These loans can help small businesses, agricultural corporations, and private or non-profit organizations by providing low interest loans to help businesses recover. There are eligibility requirements, and the loan amount and interest level may vary, but the bottom-line is: There is a financial resource available for businesses that help our communities every day.

To get information on how to apply visit sba.gov/coronavirus or call: 1-800-659-2955.

For workers that are concerned because their company had to let them go, there are also resources. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gave state governments an incentive to ease unemployment benefits—something Governor Abbott has done here in Texas by waiving the one week waiting period and temporarily rescinding some of the requirements to receive unemployment. This will allow for families who are hurting to gain financial assistance faster.

Student loan interest has been deferred as well, and some people may be eligible to defer their tax payments.

I have heard from and understand the concerns of small business owners and all Texans. At the publishing of this article, the House of Representatives and Senate are involved in negotiations to pass a third round of relief. The goal is to help people that are unemployed, make sure we can keep people employed and ensure we have a robust economy when this pandemic is over.

The damaging health phase of coronavirus is far from over, so families everywhere need to keep following guidelines from government officials to keep themselves healthy and slow the spread of this deadly virus. We are in a dark, long tunnel, but we know the tunnel will end. To get to the light at the end as fast as we can, we must recognize we are in this together, and, by working together, we will get through this.

***

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

**

El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, review the guidelines here and the submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

Analysis: Order Texans to stay home, or risk impeding the fight against COVID-19?

Disasters always test leaders, but a pandemic isn’t a hurricane or a tornado. It doesn’t come and go in a day or a week. It’s not confined to a geographic area. It’s invisible. It preys on the social ties that bind us into communities, cities, a state.

But that’s what government is for, isn’t it? When the proper response to a crisis is collective action and not individual action. When the path to safety is in the opposite direction many of us would go if left on our own.

The crowdsourced solution to the coronavirus gave us shortages of toilet paper and bacterial wipes, dried beans and packaged pasta. That’s just a peek at what happens if we stick with the individual response. Experts are telling us that the wave of the virus could easily overwhelm hospitals and health care providers, putting medicine out of reach of many of us as cases of the disease peak.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is still looking for middle ground.

“There have been questions raised about whether Texas as a state must immediately go into a shelter-in-place status,” Abbott said Sunday, adding a few moments later, “We need to do several things first.”

He said his earlier executive orders — closing bars, restaurants, gyms and limiting the size of public gatherings — are still fresh, and he wants to see whether what’s already been done is enough. He said more than 200 of the state’s 254 counties haven’t reported a single case of the coronavirus. After saying that what might be appropriate for urban areas isn’t necessarily suited to rural parts of the state, he threw it to local control: “Local officials have the authority to implement more strict standards than I have implemented,” Abbott said. At this time, he said, it’s not the appropriate approach for the whole state.

It’s already helped, and in very short order, to tell people to stay home as much as they can. Now the question is whether that’s enough. Medical and civic leaders want Abbott to take the next step, to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, like Louisiana and other places have done.

Good medicine, tough politics.

It requires politicians to go against their instincts to tell people what they want to hear — and to instead tell them what’s good for them, including government-ordered confinement.

The same dilemmas appear on the economic side, too. State Comptroller Glenn Hegar decided last week not to waive the deadline for sales taxes; businesses that collected taxes on purchase in February had to turn that tax money over to the state, as usual, last Friday.

Some of those businesses are hurting, and it might be useful to hang onto that money for a month to try to keep things going. But Hegar initially decided that the taxpayers — consumers — had already paid the taxes and that the money needed to be used for hospitals and first responders and everything else the government does.

Good government, risky politics.

The sales tax deadline just happened to fall at the hardest point on the calendar, on the Friday of the week when a significant part of the state economy came to a sudden halt, when government ordered the closing of all of the businesses where people gather for food or entertainment or shopping. A number of lawmakers implored Hegar over the weekend to give businesses more time to pay.

Likewise, it’s not easy to order everybody to stay in their house, especially if there’s some penalty threatened for coming out for nonessential business. And the rewards of that isolation, while critical, are invisible.

It’s not easy to tell people in this self-involved culture to sacrifice personally for the greater community. Staying home if you’re sick is a no-brainer, but if you’re well, being ordered out of stores and restaurants and theaters might wear thin after a short time. You might resent whoever issued the order.

But play governor for a moment: What if you don’t issue the order? What if the worst numbers from Texas hospital experts become reality? Wouldn’t you wish you had ordered everyone inside? Maybe Abbott’s right, and the orders already in place are enough. Some mayors and county judges will be willing to enact stricter policies; in fact, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a shelter-in-place order shortly after Abbott announced he wasn’t ready to issue one for the whole state. Maybe the large expected increase in cases will prompt Texans to stop running unnecessary errands.

At a moment when we don’t have enough testing kits to figure out who has the disease, enough hospital beds, masks and other medical equipment to treat those who have it while protecting medical personnel, or either a vaccine to block the virus or a cure to stop it, distance is our best defense — the moat around the castle.

That’s the hard part of leading. It doesn’t always matter what’s popular.

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

Editor’s note: If you’d like an email notice whenever we publish Ross Ramsey’s column, click here.

LIST+LINKS: El Paso-area resources, information

The following list was compiled by State Senator Jose Rodriguez’s office. All the links and information are current as of March 20,2020

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve, we will be sharing information with you, especially as it relates to state actions and resources.

There are innumerable issues to address, but foremost on our minds are two basic questions: How to stay healthy, and how to manage the economic disruption taking place.

Regarding testing, the City of El Paso distributed this information (click on image for the city resources website), and below this image, you will find important news regarding small business support announced today by Gov. Greg Abbott, and a list of local resources such as housing information, food support, and even educational and fun things to do with your children.

These resources are compiled from several lists local mutual aid groups are distributing, as well as notices posted on social media. You may find the Facebook group here.

Small business support

As of this morning, the SBA has included all counties in Texas in its Economic Injury Disaster Declaration and granted access to its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which will provide long-term, low-interest loans to qualifying businesses across the state.

Texas small businesses who believe they may be eligible for an SBA EIDL should visit www.sba.gov/disaster where they can directly apply for assistance. The online application is the fastest method to receive a decision about loan eligibility.

Unemployment support

The 10-day investigation period for people applying for unemployment benefits has been waived. If your employment has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), apply for benefits either online at any time using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday. Because of an increase in call volumes, however, TWC encourages people to use the online claim portal, and to sign up for Electronic Correspondence.

Texas Legal Aid has provided a web page with resources, including questions employees may have about their legal rights and other questions regarding time off from work.

Other items

Gov. Abbott is temporarily suspending certain provisions of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code to help businesses whose events were cancelled due to COVID-19. Suspending these provisions will allow for refunds of application fees paid to obtain a temporary event permit for an event that was later cancelled.

The governor directed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to temporarily suspend inmate fees for health care services related to COVID-19.

LOCAL RESOURCES

General assistance

The El Paso County General Assistance Division provides resources to El Pasoans through community and social service programs. Call 775-2700 to apply over the phone or click here to apply online. Examples of help the division may supply include emergency rent or mortgage payments and emergency food baskets.

Health care support

The Texas Department of State Health Services has extensive information about the virus and what you can do to prevent its spread. For that and other state information about the virus you may visit the Texas Department of State Health Services by clicking here.

If you develop symptoms or feel sick, contact your primary care physician over the phone to see if you should be screened for COVID-19. If you do not have a primary care physician or are uninsured or underinsured, you may call 2-1-1 and select option 6 for referral to a health care provider. A primary care physician must determine whether you should be tested for COVID-19. Only those people who have been seen and provided with a referral by a primary care physician can be tested for COVID-19.

More information on testing is available at www.EPHealth.com at the COVID-19 page.

Community Health Centers:
• University Medical Center provides healthcare services throughout El Paso County at a number of clinics. The main hospital has established new screening and visitation rules, which including limiting visitors to one per patient over the age of 18 who have screened negative. This provision applies to all hospitals.
• Project Vida Health CenterCentro de Salud Familiar La Fe, and Centro San Vicente. They provide integrated primary and preventive care, including behavioral health. They do not currently provide coronavirus screening, testing or treatment.

Aliviane continues to offer services for individuals in recovery. For assistance you may call (915) 782-4000.

Emergence Health Network provides recovery-based services for mental health, developmental disability, and related conditions for the people of El Paso County.

Housing resources

The City of El Paso has passed an ordinance halting evictions during this state of emergency. The Texas Supreme Court also has paused all eviction proceedings until April 19 and writs until April 26, with the exception of cases involving a threat of harm or criminal activity.

Should you or someone you know be threatened with eviction, contact COVIDcompliance@elpasotexas.gov or the El Paso Police Department’s non-emergency line at (915) 832-4400. You may also contact Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Inc. through its legal intake system at 1-888-9888-9996.

And as noted above, El Paso County General Assistance may be able to help withholding costs: Call 775-2700 to apply over the phone or click here to apply online.

Utilities

Utilities, including waterelectricity and gas, cannot disconnect customers at this time. However, this temporary halt on disconnections does not forgive outstanding balances or cancel your obligation to pay for service.

Project BRAVO’s Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) assists low-income households in meeting their immediate energy needs through utility bill assistance and energy education that encourages consumers to control energy use and costs. The organization offers various resources for those who qualify.

Food, Meals and Provisions

Special hours are offered for those aged 60+, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems across El Paso. Those include:

* Walmart: 7am-8am every Tuesday
* Albertsons: 7am-9am every Tuesday and Thursday
* Whole Foods Market: 7am-8am each day
* Target: 8am-9am every Wednesday
* Vista Supermarket: 6:30am-7am each day
* Dollar General: 8am-9am each day

School Districts are offering free meals to all students under 18, regardless of which district you live in. Find locations by clicking on the appropriate ISD: EPISDYISDSISDClint ISD

One Grub Community offers free meals on a “Pay it Forward” basis. Contact them to see if there are meals available at (915) 588-7078 or visit 901 Arizona St. Wed-Fri 8am-7pm/Sat 10am-2pm.

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food has pantry services available to the community. They also are in need of volunteers and contributions. Make sure to call before visiting.

UTEP students may access pantry services at Memorial Gym beginning at 9am Monday (March 23, 2020).

Toilet paper! The locally owned Spectrum Paper Company has opened its doors to the public. They will be accepting cash only and will limit quantity for toilet paper and kitchen towels. Spectrum Paper Company is located at 27 Concord St, El Paso, TX 79906. They are open 8-4 Monday-Friday. You can also inquire with your supermarket about stocking dates for toilet paper and all other necessary items – or try your neighborhood corner store.

Children’s services

The YWCA offers educational camps at six YWCA locations from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. Child Care Services participants are accepted for these camps and YWCA also offers scholarships for households with an income of $38,000 or less. Click here for information on scholarships.

Locations and contact info
* West Side: 313 Bartlett Dr. – 915-519-0108
* Central: 1600 Brown St. – 915-519-0107
* Northeast: EPCC Transmountain Campus, 9570 Gateway N, 915-831-5832
* Mission Valley: 115 N. Davis – 915-519-0105, EPCC Valle Verde Campus, 919 Hunter Dr. – 915-931-2123
* Eastside: 10712 Sam Snead – 915-519-0106

The YMCA has extended day camps during school closures.

Locations and contact info
* Eastside: 2044 Trawood – (915) 590-9622
* North East: 5509 Will Ruth – (915) 755-9622
* Westside: 7145 N Mesa – (915) 584-9622

Things to do at home

Here is a list of resources compiled by parents for children who are learning at home during school closures.

Google Arts and Culture has partnered with 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to offer virtual tours of their spaces. Some of the options include New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. The Louvre, based in Paris, is also offering its own virtual tour online for free.

National parks are also providing virtual tours. Virtual visitors can travel through the trails of Yellowstone National Park, as well as the Yosemite National Park Families can tour zoos and learn about animals without leaving home, as well. The San Diego Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are offering live webcam viewings of pandas, penguins and beluga whales.

PBS offers resources for school aged children, to include educational activities, games, tools and materials for those learning from home during school closures.

Volunteer and Donate

If you are healthy and understand how to practice precautions, volunteer at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger foodbank. Register for a shift here or donate here

If you are healthy and able, donate blood at Vitalant. Make an appointment here.

To support local non-profits in the region consider donating to the Paso del Norte Community Foundation’s El Paso COVID-19 Response Fund.

Texas regulators contemplating a reduction in oil production amid coronavirus crisis

HOUSTON — The state agency that regulates Texas’ behemoth energy industry is weighing a reduction in oil production — at the behest of some producers — as the public health and economic crises fueled by the new coronavirus continue deepening both nationally and here.

The Texas Railroad Commission’s potential inquiry into its options comes as demand for oil across the globe has dropped significantly, with people staying home and implementing social distancing practices in hopes of avoiding the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“A couple of Texas producers have inquired into the feasibility of the Railroad Commission prorationing production,” said Travis McCormick, chief of staff to commission Chairman Wayne Christian. “No formal change in policy has been proposed. Staff is looking into what that change in policy would entail from a practical standpoint at the agency.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported the producers’ request and the commission’s response Thursday.

Jason Modglin, director of public affairs for Commissioner Christi Craddick, said the agency has not yet received a formal request to curtail production.

“We haven’t really been able to look at it and see: 1) how we would do it and, 2) how it would benefit or help Texas producers,” Modglin said.

Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston, said a reduction in oil production in Texas is not likely.

“It’s got to be some predators looking to just slam some people into bankruptcy in a heartbeat,” Hirs said. “None of that would make a difference in the overall market.”

There would be “some natural concerns” among some in the industry to a dramatic oil production cut, including ensuring low-volume wells, those that produce no more than 15 barrels per day, are exempt from any cut, said economist Karr Ingham of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.

“But I certainly understand the thought process behind producers watching their industry collapse before their eyes in the state of Texas and wanting to do something about it,” Ingham said, adding that the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers has not yet formalized a position on this issue.

Since Texans began limiting how much they’re in public, many people have lost jobs or had their hours cut by businesses adapting to limited or shuttered operations. As the new coronavirus has spread across the planet, oil prices dropped from over $60 a barrel at the beginning of the year to about $25 a barrel Thursday. The economic double whammy of the public health crisis combined with the steep drop in oil prices has experts here unclear about how deeply COVID-19 will impact Texas’ economy.

Oil production revenues made up about 6.1% of the state’s tax revenues in 2018, according to the Texas comptroller’s office. But the industry helps power the state’s economy, which is likely to take more of a beating since Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered statewide closures of bars and restaurant dining rooms as health officials prepare for an exponential increase in the number of Texans testing positive.

At a virtual town hall Thursday night, Abbott said that prices are near where they were in 2016 and that the state needs to understand the “contours” of the pricing drop before addressing it.

According to the most recent figures for this fiscal year’s state budget, Texas collected $17.5 billion in sales taxes and $2.5 billion in oil taxes. Together, those figures make up about 75% of the $26.3 billion in taxes the state has collected since September. But those figures only run through February. They do not include figures from March, which is when the virus upended Texans’ daily lives, entire industries and the economy.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for the Texas comptroller’s office referred to a March 9 statement from Comptroller Glenn Hegar, which said the agency “is monitoring weakness in financial markets” and is “tracking revenues carefully since markets began to soften.

“Certainly, Texas has exposure if oil prices remain depressed for a sustained period of time, and slowdowns in economic activity related to the COVID-19 outbreak could also be a headwind,” Hegar said in the statement. “We are still only six months into the current budget cycle, however, and it is too early to tell with certainty how current fluctuations will impact long-term economic performance and state revenues.”

Authors – MITCHELL FERMAN AND CASSANDRA POLLOCK – The Texas Tribune

Disclosure: The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and the University of Houston have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Video: Cornyn speaks on current efforts, next steps to address Coronavirus

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday about his efforts to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak, including Congress’ recent vote for emergency funding and the next steps to address the economic impact.

Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s floor remarks are below, and downloadable audio and video can be found above

“Hospitals around the state are facing a great deal of pressure and uncertainty surrounding the virus and working to ensure that they are prepared to treat potential Coronavirus patients without impacting their normal operations is an urgent concern. Last week, I helped organize a conference call with the Texas Hospital Association and officials from Health and Human Services and the Texas Department of State Health Services to discuss some of the issues of concern to hospitals serving on the frontline all across our state.”

“Fortunately, the President signed last week an $8.3 billion funding bill to support our nation’s response to the coronavirus. It will send vital funding to treating and preventing the spread of the virus, including the purchase of masks and personal protective equipment, as well as supporting the development of a vaccine. But to the point, the funding bill will also include money for state and local communities, including San Antonio, which have been at the forefront of the battle at home.”

“The next big question on everyone’s mind is how this virus will impact the economy. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to discuss potential options with President Trump and Vice President Pence and Secretary Mnuchin, and we’re continuing to work to identify the best path forward.”

“It’s not a time to play politics. It’s a time for us to work together in the nation’s interest. Keeping the American people safe and healthy and keeping our economy strong should be a shared bipartisan goal. I hope all of our colleagues will keep that in mind, just as we did when we worked with President Obama [during the Ebola outbreak] in 2014.”

“To help communicate what those practices are, as well as other information, my office has created a unique webpage on my official website: cornyn.senate.gov. This will serve as a platform to provide information to all Texans who have questions about the virus.”

How will the collapse in oil prices impact Texas? It’s too soon to tell, experts say.

Oil prices plummeted to their lowest point in decades overnight as Saudi Arabia declared a price war on Russia, adding another stressor to financial markets already reeling amid concerns over the rapid spread of a new strain of coronavirus.

While Texas’ economy and budget is highly sensitive to oil prices as the nation’s top oil-producing state, economic and energy experts and state officials said Monday that it’s too soon to say how big of an economic hit it will take. That will depend on how long both the Saudi-Russia deadlock and the COVID-19 outbreak persist.

If either one becomes a prolonged crisis, they say, the impact could be devastating.

“The consequences for Texas of the drop in prices over the weekend will depend on two questions: 1) how low, and 2) how long,” Dale Craymer, president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, wrote in an email. “Of course, we can’t look at the impact of a drop in oil prices on Texas in a vacuum. Behind all this is the economic impact of the coronavirus, which is still uncertain.”

Oil prices had already slipped as high production rates in Texas and beyond led to oversupply. And that oversupply will only worsen with Saudi Arabia’s price cuts and planned output increase — which triggered Monday’s oil price free fall. In the latter half of last year, Texas saw a significant decline in the active number of oil rigs, and service companies cut thousands of jobs.

When oil production slows in Texas, employment and tax revenues decline, and budget cuts at the state and local levels often follow. (Craymer has estimated that the state loses $85 million per year for every $1 decrease in oil prices.)

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the state’s chief revenue estimator, predicted last year that oil prices would hover in the low- to mid-$50-per barrel range through the latter half of 2021. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude was hovering just over $30 per barrel at midday Monday.

Hegar tempered any economic panic on Monday, saying that “the fundamentals of the Texas economy remain strong” but adding that he will be closely monitoring the situation.

“Certainly Texas has exposure if oil prices remain depressed for a sustained period of time, and slowdowns in economic activity related to the COVID-19 outbreak could also be a headwind,” he said. “We are still only six months into the current budget cycle, however, and it is too early to tell with certainty how current fluctuations will impact long term economic performance and state revenues.”

Translation: If the Saudis and Russians strike a deal and COVID-19 goes dormant in the hot summer months, as some experts expect, Texas’ coffers will have time to recover before lawmakers convene in 2021 to write a new budget.

Hegar also said “state leadership has numerous financial management tools which allow the state to react to and contend with economic pressures.”

Craymer also noted that the state has some cushion: the last state budget was balanced with $2.9 billion to spare, he said. And the state has about $8 billion in its rainy day fund — though lawmakers set a $7.5 billion minimum fund balance last year in a sign of their bullishness on the economy.

But while it may be too soon to tell how Texas will fare, budget analyst Eva De Luna Castro of the Center for Public Policy Priorities noted that the state has “to kick off the budget process before anyone really knows what’s happening.” For example, revenue forecasters will have to give state agencies budgetary guidance this June.

“If things don’t rapidly improve, the agencies may be told to start cutting in their current budgets just to make room,” she said.

She said state lawmakers are more constrained now after making a commitment last year to more adequately fund public schools so local governments don’t have to increase property taxes as much.

“Just to not cut aid for students, the state has to come up with more and more money,” she said.

Experts said Texas is better positioned to handle an oil price collapse today thanks to a diversified economy. The last collapse in oil prices, in 2014, also forced the industry to cut costs and otherwise become more efficient. But University of Texas at Austin energy resources professor Michael Webber said COVID-19 throws an unprecedented economic variable into the mix.

When energy prices are low, demand for fuel typically increases. That’s not the case now amid government, corporate and self-imposed travel bans.

“There is significant demand disruption going on from coronavirus,” said Webber, who also works as chief science and technology officer at French global energy services company ENGIE. “This is unique and that could be really bad.”

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, told Bloomberg that “the situation we are witnessing today seems to have no equal in oil market history.”

Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, expressed hope in a statement Monday.

“While the current circumstances are very difficult and impactful to operations and employees, Texas oil and natural gas companies have proven themselves nimble and innovative in challenging times,” he said. “Historically, when oil prices have been down, free market principles, science-based regulations and ingenuity helped Texas operators weather downturns. Recent developments remind us that benefits associated with a thriving energy sector are not guaranteed.”

Author:  KIAH COLLIER –  The Texas Tribune

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, and the Texas Oil & Gas Association have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Experts say COVID-19 could hurt Texas trade and border economy

Economists monitoring the potential effects of the coronavirus on Texas’ international trade are adopting the tone of health officials: Be prepared, be prudent, but don’t panic. But they believe it’s only a matter of time before a major disruption in the global supply chain impacts the state’s economy.

Texas, which has the world’s 10th-largest economy, should brace for a hit, said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, the chairman of the Texas House Committee on International Relations and Economic Development.

“About 1 million jobs in the Texas economy are dependent on international trade,” Anchia said. “It is impossible to contemplate that there could be no impacts and further, more dramatic impacts.”

Jon Barela, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, a nonprofit focused on promoting business and economic development in Ciudad Juárez, El Paso and New Mexico, said some of the group’s members “are extremely concerned about the supply chain.” Those members include international companies that own and operate maquiladoras, or factories, in Mexico. The factories assemble parts or whole products, including many that move over the border several times before final production is completed.

Mexico has only confirmed five cases of the deadly virus that’s claimed more than 3,000 lives across the world. But one of the country’s main suppliers of equipment is China, which has partially shut down international shipments after the virus originated in and quickly spread throughout the country.

Mexican companies began preparing for a slowdown weeks ago when the virus was still confined to China. Plants in the Mexican state of Chihuahua began making adjustments to their operations as early as Feb. 8 because of the quarantine in China, according to El Financiero. And more than 600 workers in Ciudad Juárez have been sent home temporarily from factory jobs, the Border Report noted.

“People are learning a whole lot more about trade between the trade war with China and now this,” said Ken Roberts, the president of WorldCity Inc., a Florida-based company that analyzes trade data and business trends. “What they’re starting to learn is it’s not the finished product that comes from China, but it’s all the pieces of that manufactured goods that come through China.”

Last year, Mexico was the United States’ largest trading partner, with more than $614 billion in two-way trade passing between the two countries. The large majority passed through Texas; the ports of Laredo and El Paso saw $227.4 billion and $76.8 billion of that commerce, respectively, making those customs districts the country’s busiest. The ports of Pharr, Eagle Pass, Brownsville and Houston were also in the top 10.

Roberts said Texas’ oil and gas industry is also vulnerable to the effects of a pandemic: The price of oil could continue to fall due to lower demand from China, a major purchaser of Texas petroleum.

“As all those people [in China] are out of work, it lessens the demand for oil that’s going to come from Texas,” he said. “The number of supply ships that have postposed or canceled [shipments] over the last few weeks is more than anything during the global financial crisis,” Roberts said.

Barela added that the automotive industry could also see a big hit in the near term. Motor vehicle parts are the country’s second-leading export to Mexico, and noncommercial vehicles and motor vehicle parts rank No. 1 and No. 4 in imports, respectively.

In 2019, the state exported more than $330 billion in goods, and more than 90% of the state’s exporters are small businesses, according to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office of economic development.

Predicting exactly what long-term effects a sustained outbreak of coronavirus could have on Texas’ economy is still a challenge, however. Unlike trade wars, where the focus is on certain products and the conditions that led to the rift, the virus is unpredictable.

“We’re just seeing the very beginning of data taking in the impacts of the outbreak,” Anchia said.

That’s due, in part, to an emphasis on just-in-time business trade practices, where items and supplies are assembled and transported to meet current demand instead of creating a surplus for future needs.

Although the price of oil has already dropped and prescription drug manufacturers have warned about possible shortages due to supply-chain disruptions, the availability of basic consumer products shouldn’t be disrupted in the near term, said Ashley Craig, an attorney and co-chairman of Venable LLP’s international trade group.

“The basics, I don’t think we have to worry about that just yet,” he said. “Yeah, there is a run on Purell and hand sanitizer, and that’s another reflection of [the hype and the unknowns].”

Craig said the government and private sectors need to come together to inform the public better than they have.

“Unfortunately, there are too many unknowns. This is not a regional situation,” he said. “We do need to look to the government, the federal as well as the state and local levels, to provide some kind of continuity and stability. And at the same time, there needs to be an open discussion with the private sector. How can we address shortages in certain areas of the country? How do we allocate? Let’s openly discuss where we are.”

Last week, President Donald Trump said he was considering closing the southern border to prevent the virus from spreading, but he has since backed off that notion. But if the president considers ramping up enforcement on cross-border traffic to screen people entering the country for the virus, trade could take another hit.

When Customs and Border Protection officers were reassigned last May to help U.S. Border Patrol officers process unusually large numbers of undocumented immigrants, one Texas-based study said a yearlong slowdown in bridge traffic could have cost the state billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs. The reassignments lasted only a few months, but there were reports of hourslong wait times on commercial bridges during that period.

“Shutting down the border and threats of doing so create an air of uncertainty, and uncertainty is the enemy of private investment jobs and optimizing economic development opportunities,” said Barela, the Borderplex Alliance CEO.

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune

Disclosure: The Borderplex Alliance has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

What can Texas do if a coronavirus outbreak hits?

Addressing the possibility of person-to-person spread of the new coronavirus that originated in China, U.S. health officials said this week that it would fall to states to decide what control measures are necessary to confront an outbreak.

“Local and state governments should begin thinking about what this might look like for them,” Nancy Messonnier, a respiratory disease expert for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Tuesday. “There are a spectrum of actions that can reduce spread and impact.”

Texas has not yet seen “community spread” of the virus. On Wednesday, a Houston-area man who had traveled abroad tested positive for the virus; all 11 previous known cases in Texas were among patients who caught the COVID-19 disease overseas and then were brought to the San Antonio Lackland Air Force Base for quarantine.

Texas and U.S. health officials have so far encouraged individual actions — rather than government interventions — to prevent the spread of the virus locally: Wash your hands, cover your sneezes and coughs, and stay home when you’re sick.

They are also bracing for how to respond to the likely possibility of a widespread domestic outbreak. As of Wednesday, 11 people in the U.S. had died from COVID-19 — most in the Seattle area, where community transmission has been confirmed, and one in California.

Around the world, countries that have seen widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus — which causes COVID-19 — have implemented drastic control measures.

Chinese authorities placed Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the disease outbreak, on lockdown, barring people from leaving city limits and, in some cases, their neighborhoods, and placing the sick in makeshift quarantine camps. China had seen roughly 80,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths as of Sunday, according to the World Health Organization, but the rate of new infections appeared to be slowing.

In Italy, health authorities this week canceled school nationwide — and in the country’s north, where the outbreak has been most severe, officials have placed cities on lockdown, banning people from entering or leaving affected areas and suspending public events. Italian officials have tallied more than 100 deaths from the virus out of more than 3,000 known cases.

State law gives broad power to the Texas governor and health commissioner to implement similar restrictions in times of crisis.

The Texas health commissioner may legally impose restrictions “on an individual, animal, place, or object, as appropriate.” Those orders may include quarantine, isolation, detention or vaccination. (There is no vaccine available yet for COVID-19.)

“Should community spread occur, state and local responses will be tailored to fit the needs of the local community,” said John Wittman, a spokesman for Gov. Greg Abbott. “The Texas Department of State Health Services and local health departments have the authority to apply control measures to individuals or groups in a variety of circumstances to protect the health and safety of Texans.”

State officials have stressed that the current limited scope of the U.S. outbreak does not yet warrant the extreme measures seen in places like China and Italy.

“We are thinking through when those tools may be needed, but they’re not the tools we’ll reach for first,” said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The state’s early response has focused on people who traveled to countries where coronavirus infection is widespread, said David Lakey, the state’s former top public health official. “Once we have community spread, we’ll have to transition to a different approach,” he said.

So far, state and local health officials have ordered some travelers to self-quarantine, monitored them and sought testing for patients with the most critical symptoms.

A public health official in East Texas recently issued a control order — a legal notice from a health authority limiting where a person may go — to a woman who had traveled to China and was asked to self-monitor for possible illness, according to the Department of State Health Services. She has not tested positive for the virus.

Van Deusen, the agency’s spokesman, declined to provide details about the patient or the control order but said it had been given because “there was an issue with [the person] following those voluntary instructions.”

“That control order is pretty broad in what it could do,” he said. “It could order a person to stay in a particular place or not go to a particular place.”

If a patient violates a control order, public health officials could ask a local court to enforce it, including issuing criminal penalties for repeated violators.

State and local health officials also have broad powers when it comes to schools and transportation in the event of an outbreak.

They can advise or order school districts to cancel classes, but Lakey said doing so may create other challenges, especially for parents who work during school hours or who rely on public schools to provide free or reduced-cost lunch.

The governor has the authority under state law to declare a disaster during a disease outbreak and to “control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area” — effectively giving him the power to place a city under lockdown.

The U.S. government also has broad authority to restrict travel; federal officials have already placed limits on international travel from China in hopes of limiting the arrival of visitors infected by the virus. President Donald Trump said this week that he was not considering any restrictions on domestic travel within the U.S.

Dennis Perrotta, a former Texas state epidemiologist, said placing parts of the state on lockdown is unlikely and would be unprecedented.

“It would be dramatic, and it has untold societal, political and health implications,” he said. “One would be hard-pressed to see that happen nowadays without really being at the edge.”

Local and state officials’ power is not unlimited in times of emergency. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued an emergency declaration this week that banned previously quarantined individuals from entering the city of San Antonio, but when he sued the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to stop the federal government from releasing quarantined people at Lackland Air Force Base, a federal judge quickly struck the suit down.

U.S. officials later agreed to change their policy for release as Nirenberg and Abbott had urged, requiring that patients test negative for the virus on two consecutive tests, and on Tuesday, more than 120 people living at the base were sent home.

Author: EDGAR WALTERSThe Texas Tribune

TRLA_728
ENTERPRISE 728
Elizabeth 728
Emergence June 11 – Sep 11, 2020 728
Covid-19 Fund 728
Utep Football Generic 728
PBP_728
Spring Training 728
Get Shift Done 728
john overall 728×90
Mountains 728