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Home | Tag Archives: coronavirus in el paso

Tag Archives: coronavirus in el paso

Coronavirus test results in Texas are taking up to 10 days

At first Chris Woodruff thought it was a routine asthma attack. But when the North Texas businessman started running a fever, he moved out of the house and eventually got tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Last week, he got his results back — positive — and went on “extreme” lockdown as doctors instructed.

But it took 10 days to get the results.

Woodruff, now recovering, is far from alone. Though Texas has dramatically increased its testing capacity, many who have been tested are waiting days on end for the results, and sometimes a week or more, according to interviews with patients and healthcare professionals. Those delays, along with the relatively low number of tests conducted so far, mean no one really knows the true picture of the coronavirus spread in Texas, and patients aren’t getting the timely information they need to respond accordingly, patients and experts say.

In addition, Texans might not take isolating themselves seriously — or their friends and family might not take extreme precautions — until they have confirmation of a positive case.

“As long as there are these lags with testing, we’re not going to know the actual numbers, and I’m worried that there’s a tendency to underestimate the severity of the epidemic — pandemic at this point,” said Dr. Shelley Payne, director of the University of Texas at Austin’s LaMontagne Center for Infectious Disease.

Testing is done by healthcare facilities, commercial and public laboratories, making it difficult to know how common cases like Woodruff’s are. State authorities say the time it takes to get results depends on which lab a patient’s test went to, and, for private laboratories, where they’re located.

As tests have surged nationally, federal officials have acknowledged possible shortages of materials like swabs and reagents that healthcare providers and technicians require. Even the private labs that process a majority of Texas cases have suggested there may be delays triggered by the surge in demand.

“We cannot accommodate everyone who wants testing and meet tight turnaround time expectations,” said Quest Diagnostics, a commercial lab behemoth, in an online statement. The company’s ability to “rapidly” expand capacity is being outpaced by demand, the statement said, and supplies for COVID-19 testing are a “global industry- and government-wide issue.”

Testing for the novel coronavirus had a botched rollout that included problems with test kits and the U.S. declining to use an existing World Health Organization test. Private labs were initially side-lined, and hard-hit states like New York and California were a bigger priority than Texas, state officials say.

The number of tests in Texas has leapt to at least 25,260 as of Saturday, a ten-fold increase from the week before, and a newly authorized test could soon deliver test results in as little as five minutes.

State authorities downplayed the effect test results could have on the state’s preparedness and response to the outbreak.

Texas currently lags some 35 other states in the number of tests it’s recorded relative to its population of 29 million, according to a New York Times analysis of estimates from the COVID Tracking Project. New York, with 19.5 million people, had recorded 122,104 tests as of Friday.

In mid-March, when Woodruff was tested in Granbury, tests were scarcer in Texas than they are now. In fact, that same day the Texas governor announced, amid rising protests over a lack of testing capacity, that Texas would see an exponential increase.

Woodruff had been on an extended road trip for work — in Las Vegas and Hawaii — and returned to Texas on March 1. He started feeling sick about a week later.

Though he had most of the classic COVID-19 symptoms — fever, chills, shortness of breath, a dry cough — Woodruff thought it was probably the flu. Still, he felt bad enough to go to an emergency clinic on March 16. When his flu test came back negative, he was instructed to go immediately to a brand new drive-thru testing site nearby.

They told him he was one of the first people in his small North Texas county to get the test, Woodruff said. It wasn’t until March 26, 10 days later, that he found out he had COVID-19 after all. Woodruff was already staying away from his family and avoiding other people, but he was still driving and visiting his ranch.

“Was it as extreme as I am today? No, because I didn’t know,” Woodruff said. “It would be great to get (the results) sooner. Absolutely. Everybody would admit to that.”

His wife, Annette, said they figured he had come down with the flu — which their kids had already experienced — and they weren’t all that concerned.

“But if we’d have known that it was corona, we probably would have been a lot more careful around him before the fact,” she said.

Chris Woodruff applauded public health authorities in Texas and Washington for their response to the quickly spreading disease, and said he hopes people will panic less after learning how he contracted and then overcame COVID-19. He said most Texans are recovering, but people aren’t necessarily getting that message.

“I went through it. Yeah, I had a tough time breathing. Yes, I had a fever for eight days, 10 days. I went through it and apparently I’m going to be fine, but where’s my number? I want to see (the) number … of us that are getting through it. That’s the hope that people need to understand and see.”

While confirmed cases like Woodruff’s are added to the total number of Texans who have come down with COVID-19, the long lag time means that the data disseminated to healthcare providers, government leaders and the general public is out of date.

That not only makes it difficult for epidemiologists combating the disease to quickly access the accurate information they need to understand how the virus is spreading, but also can complicate the job of medical professionals across the healthcare system.

It’s “critically important for the treating physician to be able to know what’s going on in that patient that is laying down in a hospital bed in front of him or her, and to know it as quickly as possible so that they can make the needed changes in therapy or attention or focus and get them better,” said Dennis Perrotta, a retired state epidemiologist.

Case in point: a 17-year-old cancer patient who needs chemotherapy to combat aggressive bone cancer but was told to wait for the results of his COVID-19 test. Nine days later, he was still waiting, according to NBC News.

State officials and lab representatives say they are continually adding testing capacity.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that Texas is “administering every test that we get,” and was on a “very good trajectory in the increase of the number of people we are testing and I expect that increase to continue.”

In the meantime, Health Services Department spokesperson Lara Anton said test results won’t determine the state’s or doctors’ ability to respond to COVID-19.

“While test results are important for overall surveillance, they don’t have a significant effect on preparedness and response activities or the medical treatment of individual patients,” Anton said.

The rapid ramp-up in testing and a shortage in needed supplies have been blamed for testing backlogs across the country.

“It takes time to gear up for” testing on this scale, said Payne, the UT infectious disease expert. “I think that there was a sense that we weren’t at such a high risk when the first cases appeared in the U.S., and we didn’t start [to prepare for wide scale testing] at the time. So now, everyone is scrambling to get all of the reagents, the tools that are needed, and to make sure people have the proper protective equipment” when testing.

Neither LabCorp nor the state said they are not running short on supplies. The Texas lab has ordered swabs and reagents, received “partial shipments,” and has enough supplies to test for a few weeks,” Anton said.

She did not provide a specific timeframe in which test results are returned. Texas’ 10 public health labs can together analyze close to 700 “specimens” a day, Anton said, and prioritize high-need patients and those who “will tell us the most from a public health perspective about what’s going on with the outbreak in Texas.” That includes people who have a doctor’s order, COVID-19-like symptoms, and either require hospitalization, are at high-risk of serious illness or have traveled from a country rampant with the virus.

Quest pegged its test turnaround time at 4-5 days on average, but said it can vary across the country, ranging from “a day or two” to “about a week from specimen pickup” elsewhere.

A LabCorp spokesperson said patients receive their test results in 4-5 days, on average, after the “specimen” is picked up for testing. The time frame can “vary based on demand,” depending on how long it takes to transport the sample to LabCorp’s test facilities and the order in which patients are prioritized, said spokesperson Mike Geller.

Amy Sanders, a UT-Austin associate professor, said she was tested on Monday, after running a low-grade fever for days, receiving negative flu tests and returning “curiosities” with her vital signs.

A healthcare provider outfitted with a plastic face shield administered the test, an uncomfortable swab that scraped the inside of her nose, and then told her, “the labs that can process these tests are backed up. So it will likely be 7-10 days before we have a test result for you.”

Sanders was self-isolating at home and still waiting as of late this week.

“The governor made lots of promises a week ago about ramping up testing, and ramping up testing is important,” she said, “but if it takes someone seven to 10 days to get results, we’re never going to have an accurate picture.”


Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and Quest Diagnostics 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.

Here’s what you can do if you’ve lost your El Paso job because of coronavirus

Tens of thousands of El Pasoans are likely to lose their jobs in the coming weeks as businesses close or drastically scale back because of the coronavirus pandemic. State and regional workforce offices are offering quicker unemployment benefits and trying to place some people in new jobs.

“As of right now, if employees find themselves laid off, they can file for unemployment benefits via When they process their application, they have the option to select a disaster and covid-19 specifically as the reason for the layoff. If indeed this is the reason for their layoff, this will provide them with expedited unemployment benefits,” said Leila Melendez, CEO of Workforce Solutions Borderplex in El Paso.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Twitter Tuesday evening that he was waiving the normal 10-day “investigation period” for people seeking unemployment benefits.

“We want you to get your benefits ASAP,” Abbott said.

Some businesses are expected to add jobs during the coronavirus crisis, which might be an alternative to filing for unemployment for some displaced workers, Melendez said.

“For those folks that don’t want to file for unemployment benefits and would prefer to work in another job, perhaps even temporarily if they anticipate going back to their regular job, they can create a free profile in That is our database that we use to match worker and employers,” she said. “We are hearing some industries that are looking for workers including janitorial services, call centers, and delivery services. These jobs are great alternatives to filing for unemployment.”

Additional information for workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic can be found at

Author: Robert Moore – El Paso Matters

El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from March 10th thru 12th

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from March 10 thru 12th.

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


***City of El Paso – City Suspends Special Programming to Protect Public from Evolving COVID-19 situation (3/12/2020)

 In the interest of protecting the public’s health and safety from the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the City of El Paso is suspending all special programming at parks, libraries, museums and other locations until further notice.

It is important to note, there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in El Paso.

Facilities and programs impacted include:

  • All Senior Centers are closed; all meals for seniors will still be available beginning Tuesday, March 17.
  • Hilos de la Plata Senior Center will be operational only for County workers who prepare food for County Senior Center distribution.
  • Youth and adult sports programs to include sports tournaments are suspended.
  • Programs and classes offered at aquatic centers, libraries, museums, recreation centers and the El Paso Zoo are suspended.
  • Facilities will remain open but without programming.

These steps implemented out of an abundance of caution are intended to protect residents and visitors.

The public may keep up with City news and activities by visiting the city’s website or following the City of El Paso on social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


***Rage Against The Machine concert postponed (3/12/2020)

Team AEG, the promoter behind the Rage Against The Machine/Run the Jewels concert sent this statement out Thursday night:

Due to the current outbreak and ban on public gatherings we will have to postpone the first part of our tour (March 26th-May 20th) with Run the Jewels. The safety and health of those who come to our shows is of utmost importance to us. All previously purchased tickets will be honored for newly scheduled shows. As it stands, the July and August tour is still on. We will be in touch about rescheduled dates.

Team AEG Presents


***EPISD extends spring break a week over COVID-19 concerns (3/12/2020)

Out of an abundance of caution, the El Paso Independent School District will be extending the spring break holiday through March 27. The District will reopen March 30.

“The health of our students and employees is our priority, and while there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in El Paso, we believe it is better to move forward using caution,” Superintendent Juan Cabrera said.

The decision was made in order to be proactive as families may be returning from spring break travel. The extended time will be used for deeper spring cleaning of schools.

During the extended week of spring break (March 23-27) some campuses will be open to offer pickup meals for all students. A schedule of times and locations will be distributed next week.

All school-related out-of-town travel has been canceled indefinitely. While there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the county, the District is taking all precautions to keep students and staff healthy and safe.

Please visit for more information on the District’s plan and prevention tips related to COVID-19


***Letter from YISD Superintendent Xavier De La Torre on district plans (3/12/2020)

Thank you for your patience and support as we work to make the best decisions for our Ysleta ISD community and provide you with timely updated information. Today I’ve been on conference calls with superintendents across the El Paso area as well as conference calls with Ysleta ISD’s leadership team and health services department.

The following proactive steps will be taken to protect the Ysleta ISD community from COVID-19 and to assist our area’s public health officials in their goal of containing the virus across the El Paso area:

  • All Ysleta ISD schools and offices will be closed next week: Monday, March 16 — Friday, March 20. Key district personnel will be using these days to plan next steps for safe and secure operations of our 60 campuses. Because the spread of the Coronavirus is rapidly evolving, my team — in coordination with other El Paso area leaders and health officials — will continue to evaluate the need to extend these planned days of closure. An update will be provided to the Ysleta ISD community no later than Friday, March 20.
  • Custodians and key personnel will continue working throughout the break. Using CDC protocols, each classroom and campus will be disinfected.
  • All out-of-town travel has been canceled until further notice. We understand many of our families are experiencing heightened concerns regarding out-of-town travel for their children, and we want to reassure them that we are taking this special precaution to safeguard the health and safety of our students, employees, and community. All other school-related activities, contests, performances, etc., within El Paso County will continue as normal.
  • Please note, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in El Paso County or Ysleta ISD schools. Our district’s standard health procedure is to ask that ill students and staff stay home. This is especially important with any person who is running a fever, has a cough and/or difficulty breathing. In those cases, we ask that you contact your health provider immediately. Should anyone with these symptoms come to school, we will ask that they return home immediately.
  • COVID-19 Updates to the Ysleta ISD community will continue to be distributed. We are committed to providing you with important information as soon as it is available. For the most part, we plan to communicate with the entire Ysleta ISD community — keeping everyone informed on this very important issue. Parents should check their contact information in the District’s Home Access Center (HAC) to ensure it is up to date and accurate. Please continue to visit our District webpage for important updates on COVID-19 at Ysleta ISD related to our community. Also, please continue to review important updates provided by the CDC at CDC Coronavirus (COVID-19) Web Page. The CDC web page is the best resource for up-to-date information on the virus and steps that need to be taken to contain it.

It is important for each of us to prepare for a wide range of possibilities and challenges over the next few days and weeks.

Our entire community must do everything possible to help reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to those who are at increased risk. We — the Ysleta ISD community — have faced challenges and crises before, but…We are El Paso Strong and with your continued support, the District will persevere through this most recent challenge.

Xavier De La Torre – Superintendent of Schools


***Statement – El Paso Water statement regarding Coronavirus (3/12/2020)

With growing international concern about Coronavirus (COVID-19), El Paso Water wants to assure our community that our water will continue to be safe and reliable. Through our standard methods of disinfection, our current water and wastewater treatment plants are more than capable of dealing with any type of virus, including the coronavirus.

We have a plan to keep critical facilities staffed so drinking water and wastewater services will be available 24/7/365.

Guidance has been provided to EPWater employees to decrease the chances of spreading any kind of virus in the workplace, and we are increasing sanitary and disinfection measures at all facilities.

We have placed a hold on all facility tours at this time, and we are cancelling all non-essential meetings and trainings. We have severely restricted employee travel and will continue to roll-out new measures on a weekly basis as things develop.

EPWater is fully committed to the health and safety or our employees and providing our customers with safe, reliable water services.


***Statement – University of Texas at El Paso suspends international & domestic travel (3/12/2020)

UTEP senior leaders met this afternoon to discuss new travel advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Earlier today (Thursday), the CDC and U.S. Department of State issued new global travel advisories due to the global impact of COVID-19. In response, UTEP is revising travel guidelines for all members of the University community.

University-sponsored international and domestic travel is suspended effective immediately, with the exception of travel to and from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Exceptions to this policy for faculty or staff conducting research-related or mission-critical functions will require approval from your supervising vice president. Student exceptions require approval by the Dean of Students.

Those wishing to travel internationally for personal reasons are highly encouraged to follow all CDC guidelines and understand that self-isolation will be required for 14 days after returning to the United States. All international travelers must report their travel to UTEP’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety using an online form or by calling 915-747-7124.

There are currently no reporting requirements for personal domestic travel, but we encourage you to follow guidelines from the CDC.


***Statement – NM Public Education Department orders all New Mexico schools closed thru April 6th (3/12/2020)

The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) issued a statewide closure of schools effective March 16. Students will be allowed to return to school Monday, April 6, 2020. The closure, according to state officials, is another effort to contain community spread of Coronavirus.


***Statement – NM Relay for Life Cancelled (3/12/2020)

New Mexico announced the fifth presumptive positive COVID-19 case on March 12, 2020.  Our state has been declared state of emergency by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.  The Department of Health of New Mexico prohibits large public gatherings to protect people’s health and fight the potential spread of the virus.

Due to the outbreak, Otero County Prison Facility and New Mexico Correctional Department along with American Cancer Society have postponed Relay for Life Event until further notice. The health of the inmates and staff is our top priority.


***Statement –  NCAA cancels remaining winter and spring championships (3/12/2020)

Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.

This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.


***Statement – Ysleta ISD on out-of-town student and employee travel (3/12/2020)

The health and safety of students and staff is always the top priority at the Ysleta Independent School District. Although there have been no reported cases of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in El Paso County, Ysleta ISD has decided to cancel all out-of-town, non-essential district-related travel for students and employees – including out-of-town student field trips – until further notice. All other school-related activities, contests, performances, etc., within El Paso County will continue as normal.

We understand many of our families are experiencing heightened concerns regarding out-of-town travel for their children, and we want to reassure them that we are taking this special precaution to safeguard the health and safety of our students, employees, and community. Please be assured we will continue to work closely with city and county health officials to help minimize the spread of germs and illnesses in general.

To stay updated on YISD’s latest health news, parents should visit our “Health Alerts” web page on the district’s main website at


***Statement – Minor League Baseball – Impacting El Paso Chihuahuas, all affiliated minor league teams (3/12/2020)

In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, and after consultation with medical professionals and our partners at Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball will delay the start of the 2020 Championship Season. We will continue to monitor the developments and will announce additional information about the 2020 season at a later date.

We will work with Major League Baseball and our community partners to resume play as soon as it is safe to do so. The health and safety of Minor League Baseball fans, players and executives is our top priority, and our thoughts are with those around the world who have been affected by this outbgreak.


***Statement from El Paso Rhinos – as playoffs and Championship games cancelled. (3/12/2020)

The Western States Hockey League has announced that all scheduled games for the remainder of the 2019-20 season have been cancelled.  The Rhinos’ home playoff games scheduled for March 13-15 and March 20-22 will not be played, nor will they be rescheduled.

Thorne Cup Final games in Greeley, Colorado that were scheduled for the end of March will also be cancelled.

Our players and staff would like to thank Rhino Country for its unwavering support!


***Statement from El Paso Comic Con/El Paso Live regarding upcoming EPCON (3/12/2020)

The safety, security, and well-being of our guests and staff is our number one priority. We are working with the venue management to ensure the event is a safe environment for all involved. We have proactively implemented several preventative measures outlined in the El Paso Live COVID-19 statement

We will continue to consult with The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and take appropriate additional action as needed. The above measures will remain in effect until further notice and are subject to change at any time as we evaluate the situation and continue to consult with local health authorities as well as the WHO and US CDC.


***Statement from Major League Baseball (3/12/2020)

Following a call with the 30 Clubs, and after consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association, Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. today announced that MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.  This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans.

MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season.  Guidance related to daily operations and workouts will be relayed to Clubs in the coming days.  As of 4:00 p.m. (ET) today, forthcoming Spring Training games have been cancelled, and 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Tucson, Arizona have been postponed indefinitely.

MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule.  MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.

Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans.  MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts.  We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.


***Statement from El Paso ISD, Socorro ISD travel for students and parents (3/12/2020)

The El Paso Independent School District is canceling all district-related travel for students and staff until further notice. While there are no confirmed cases in El Paso County of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the decision was made out of an abundance of caution.

Any student groups currently out of town will be brought back to El Paso as soon as possible. For more information about the District’s response to COVID-19, visit

The Socorro Independent School District is taking precautionary measures regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).  We continue to work with health officials to proactively help prevent the potential spread of the virus in our community.

Given the rapidly evolving situation, all out of town student and employee travel will be cancelled until further notice.


***Sports Leagues cancel or temporary suspend play affecting UTEP, NMSU and EP Locomotive (3/12/2020)

At 11am on Thursday, Conference USA and Western Athletic Conference officials added that all spring sports would be suspended until further notice.

Thursday morning, the two conferences that UTEP and NMSU play in – Conference USA (CUSA) and the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Both CUSA and WAC announced the cancellation of the basketball championships.  A short time later, the USL Championship –  El Paso Locomotive soccer team’s league – announced the suspension of play for at least 30 days.

UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter released the following statement:

“This decision was made with the safety of our fans, student-athletes, coaches and staff as the utmost priority,” UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter said.  “We will monitor the situation in the coming weeks in consultation with Conference USA Leadership, the University Administration and each respective varsity sport team and make modifications as needed.”
UTEP Athletics events slated for this weekend that are immediately impacted include the softball team hosting UAB for a three-game series and the tennis team hosting Chicago State on Monday.  These events will not take place as scheduled.
All UTEP teams scheduled to compete away from home this weekend will return to El Paso.

UTEP women’s basketball head coach Kevin Baker released the following statement:

“We are disappointed to have our season come to an end, but we support the decision of the conference office to cancel the remainder of the tournament. There are things that are bigger than basketball, and our number one concern is the health and well-being of everyone.”


***Statement from USL and El Paso Locomotive:

The health and safety of fans, players and staff is of the highest priority for the USL and El Paso Locomotive FC. The USL Championship today has made the decision to suspend matches for a minimum of 30 days – including the Locomotive FC Home Opener on March 14 and the match against LA Galaxy II on April 4 at Southwest University Park – as a precaution to the ongoing developments related to COVID-19.

The intent is for El Paso Locomotive FC, along with the rest of the league, to resume play. Additional updates and guidance will be provided on the continuation of the 2020 USL Championship season.


***Jon Barela, CEO of The Borderplex Alliance statement on COVID-19 and 30-Day Travel Ban (3/11/2020) 

Wednesday, Jon Barela, CEO of The Borderplex Alliance, released the following statement in reaction to the COVID-19 Pandemic and 30-day ban on Europeans traveling into the U.S.:
“Overcoming this unique challenge will require swift bipartisan action in Washington and historic international cooperation. I urge lawmakers, business leaders, and citizens to heed the warnings of health care professionals and make rational, fact-based decisions from the best science available. In our interdependent world, I expect the economic fallout from this virus to reach every part of the country, including the Borderplex region. Business sectors ranging from tourism to manufacturing can expect adverse consequences. The faster we all work together, the quicker we can contain this virus, save lives, and keep the economy moving.”


***MountainStar Sports – Owners of El Paso Chihuahuas & EP Locomotive F.C.


“The safety of our guests, employees and players is our utmost priority. We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with multiple health and government agencies, as well as Major and Minor League Baseball, and the USL to collect the most accurate and up-to-date information available.

We will continue to carefully monitor the situation as time progresses and will closely follow any and all guidance received from state and local health authorities.

The Locomotive Home Opener is this Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. and the Chihuahuas Opening Day is Tuesday, April 14 at 7:05 p.m. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the recommendations and guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”


***City of El Paso Coronavirus COVID-19 News Conference (3/10/2020)


El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from March 3rd thru 9th

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from March 3rd thru 9th. (listed most recent on top to oldest on bottom)

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

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


*** Diocese of El Paso (3/4/2020)

Guidelines for the Diocese of El Paso Response to the Corona Virus via letter from Bishop Mark Seitz

At the time of this writing the corona virus has not been reported in El Paso. The likelihood is that eventually it will. People have asked about the response of the Church of El Paso, so, knowing that preparation is always a prudent step, I would like to offer these guidelines.

Practice Good Personal Hygiene

Firstly, I would like to point out that good hygiene is always appropriate. By covering our mouths when we cough and regularly washing our hands with soap and water we not only protect ourselves but others as well. A Christian should always be concerned about the
well-being of the other and not simply self preservation.

Perhaps the most important step we can take is to stay out of circulation when we believe we may have an illness that is contagious. I hope that you consider Sunday Mass to be one of the most important obligations of your life. To worship God and to be nourished by Him is at the very foundation of our Christian life.

However, it is a violation of the Christian charity you owe to yourself and others to go to work, school or church when you are contagious. Go to the doctor, if needed. Stay home and take care of yourself. Wear a mask if you must go out while you are sick.

Know that in taking these measures you are doing the will of God.

Guidelines for Church Activities and Our Catholic Schools

At this point, since there is no corona virus detected in our community we will be reminding parish communities, and our Catholic School Communities to take measures that are always advisable: asking people and students not to come to services or school if they are sick, making hand sanitizer readily available, reminding priests and Eucharistic Ministers to frequently wash their hands. (I would ask that using hand sanitizer be done in discreet ways to avoid creating a distracting “Sanitizer Ritual” before Communion.)

As situations develop the Diocese will consider measures that may be prudently indicated by circumstances. These could range from changing some rites of the Mass to avoid personal contact among worshippers, to asking everyone to receive the host on the hand, to suspending the option of receiving from the chalice.

The most extreme measure would be to suspend the public celebration of the Mass. Once again, none of these measures appear to be necessary at the present time.

Never Underestimate the Value of Prayer for Victims and Those Who Serve

Of course the best weapon we have to meet these unsettling threats is prayer. I would urge you to pray fervently for the speedy recovery of all who have been impacted by this new virus. Pray also for healthcare workers. It is at times like this that we realize that their work is far more than a money-making job. They are doing a task that is very close to the heart of Jesus.

Whether their faith allows them to recognize it or not, they are carrying on His healing ministry in the world. Health care workers do so with great dedication that goes far beyond the minimum required. Frequently we will find them there on the front lines along with first responders.

They often do so even when their own life and health is at risk. We should thank them often and assure them of our prayers.

Another group to whom we should be grateful are our clergy and religious. If an epidemic or other disaster strikes you can count on them not to turn and run the other way.

As we witnessed on August 3rd of last year with the Walmart shootings, they will seek out those in need and bring the help and consolation that only God can bring. This is what priests and women and men Religious do. It is the call we have received from our Master who laid down his life for us.

I am confident that all of us members of the family of God will care for one another. It is what we do.

Add My Parish App

I would encourage all members of the Church of El Paso to add MyParishApp to your phones. This will give your parish and me a way to communicate quickly and directly as this situation unfolds. To join you can go to your app store or text 88202.

In this moment and in all the challenging experiences of our lives listen to the reassuring voice of Jesus saying, “Do not be afraid.” I trust that in the face of these and other threats we, the Catholic community of El Paso will be drawn even closer together, bonded by the self-giving love of Christ.

Bp. Mark

***NMSU implements prevention plans, advises students, faculty on spring break travel

New Mexico State University is closely monitoring the situation involving the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is following the guidance of the New Mexico Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the current risk of acquiring COVID-19 in the United States is very low, and NMDOH reports no confirmed cases in New Mexico, the university will follow these agencies’ recommendations as the situation evolves.

“This is the height of the cold and flu season here, so we are asking employees who are sick not to report to work and to avoid contact with others,” said Katrina Doolittle, executive director of NMSU’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety. “If employees have any concerns about COVID-19, we advise them to contact their doctor for evaluation. Employees who have been sick with any communicable disease should be fully recovered before returning to work.”

In the meantime, NMSU has implemented its communicable disease prevention plan, which includes a webpage on the Aggie Health and Wellness Center site with information and actions to take to protect your health.

Lori McKee, NMSU executive director of Health and Wellness, sent a letter out to the NMSU system to update students, faculty and staff and keep them apprised of the constantly changing situation involving COVID-19.

“We have had a communicable disease prevention committee in place since 2009, during the H1N1 pandemic,” said McKee. “Our mitigation and planning strategies in that plan are well-suited to help us protect our community against coronavirus.”

Although the NMDOH has reported no cases of coronavirus in the state, all those seeking care at the Aggie Health and Wellness Center are being asked about recent travel and contact with persons with known COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is highly contagious,” said Dr. Judi Voelz, NMSU medical director. “First call your local health care provider to avoid exposing others to illness. If your symptoms are severe, your health care provider will be able to further direct you. Testing cannot be done at the Aggie Health and Wellness Center or your local urgent care clinics. It can only be done through coordination with the New Mexico Department of Health and the state laboratories.”

Because of COVID-19’s potential to disrupt international travel during NMSU’s upcoming Spring Break, March 23-27, international students and those traveling outside of the U.S. are urged to visit the Aggie Health and Wellness Center’s coronavirus page for updated information.

NMSU faculty have been asked to continue the process of obtaining approval through the provost’s office for all professional travel outside the country.

NMSU is actively working to plan and prepare for a potential outbreak by meeting with partners across the university, and coordinating with NMDOH and local hospitals.

*** Cornyn Announces Reimbursement Funds Available for Texas Communities Providing Coronavirus Care

 WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced today that Congress’ emergency funding legislation to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will include resources available for reimbursements for state and local governments that have provided care to individuals who are being evaluated and, in some cases, treated for the virus.  

“Texas, and in particular San Antonio, was called upon to provide care for potential patients because of our top-notch healthcare facilities, military resources, and highly skilled medical professionals,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I’m grateful to my colleagues who I worked with to ensure $950 million is available for reimbursement for the costs Texas and states across the country have incurred while monitoring and treating these individuals.”

***  El Paso Department of Public Health (3/3/2020)

Public Health Laboratory Ready to Test for Coronavirus Locally

The Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today that its laboratory can now test respiratory samples for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 here in El Paso.

“Our ability to test for COVID-19 here in El Paso will greatly reduce the turnaround time to get results for a patient. If we ship out samples, it will take up to 72 hours to receive results, but testing here will shorten that time to as little as four hours,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director.

The Public Health Laboratory in El Paso is one of only 120 domestic laboratories that is part of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there are still no cases of COVID-19 in El Paso, DPH continues to work hand in hand with other state, local, and federal officials in a united front against this disease.

According to the CDC, the LRN is charged with the task of maintaining this integrated network of laboratories that can respond to bioterrorism, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies.

Health officials in El Paso stress that as a Biosafety Level-3 laboratory, the Public Health Laboratory is well equipped to handle samples with proper measures in place to protect Medical Laboratory Scientists as well as the community. They say the Department of Public Health has already dealt with other new diseases including Ebola and Zika virus.

“As an LRN Laboratory, we are proud to have the confidence of the CDC to be given immediate access to Emergency Use Authorization testing for the City of El Paso,” said Darlene Tarango, Laboratory Manager. “The community can rest assured we are on the forefront of protecting their health and safety.”

DPH Officials continue to stress individual prevention strategies against infection including practicing the 4 C’s. This includes COVERING your cough and sneezes, CLEANING your hands often by practicing good handwashing techniques, CONTAINING the spread of disease by staying home if you are sick, and CALLING your health care provider if you are ill and experiencing flu-like symptoms with a high fever.

Updated information continues to be available via and


El Paso Department of Public Health

The Department of Public Health (DPH) has been working for several weeks monitoring and preparing for any local cases of COVID-19. There are currently no known cases of the disease within a 500-mile radius of our area. (link to full story)



As part of our mission to develop, promote and maintain a safe, healthy learning and working environment for the students, faculty, staff and visitors at The University of Texas at El Paso, UTEP is closely monitoring the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) through trusted authorities including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)U.S. Department of StateWorld Health OrganizationInternational SOSTexas Department of State Health Services, and El Paso City Health Department.

UTEP officials continue to monitor developments connected to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and are following guidance from UT System in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State, International SOS and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in El Paso County. CBC News in Canada has produced an informational video that you may wish to watch to learn more about this virus.


El Paso Community College

“EPCC is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” college officials shared via a statement on their website.  “As always, EPCC will follow the guidance of local, regional and national health authorities.”

“Currently, there are not any known cases of COVID-19 at EPCC or in El Paso County,” officials added.  (link to full story)


El Paso ISD

EPISD continues to work with local, state and federal health officials in monitoring and responding to the recent health issues surrounding the coronavirus.

The health of students and employees is a top priority for the District and our health officials are in communication with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While health officials believe the risk to schools in our area is low, EPISD wants to reassure the El Paso community that the matter is being monitored closely.

The District is currently following the recommendations from health officials to protect against coronavirus in the same way the District protects against the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu. This includes extensive treatment using systems like GermBlast and EMIST — two services that spray solutions aimed at disinfecting campuses and offices.

Parents are urged to talk to their children about coronavirus and what they can do to prevent infection. The information below is from the city’s public health department:

How do people become infected with coronavirus? 

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands; and
  • Rarely, fecal contamination.

Patients with confirmed coronavirus infections have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath and fever.

How can I avoid coronavirus infection?

The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to the virus, which are similar to the precautions to avoid exposure to the flu. CDC recommends these every-day actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eye, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


Socorro ISD

Socorro ISD is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). As always, Socorro ISD will follow the guidance of local, regional and national health authorities. Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Socorro ISD or in El Paso County.

The health and safety of Socorro ISD students, faculty and staff are of utmost importance and our campus community should take the following everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

• Practice good hand hygiene, including washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Follow appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette.
• Stay home, rest and avoid close contact with others when you are sick or with fever.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Socorro ISD will remain vigilant of this situation as it changes and is prepared to act in a timely manner. The campus community should consult the CDC and City of El Paso Public Health Department for the most recent COVID-19 information.

Socorro ISD updates impacting students, faculty and staff will be announced via and via social media.


Canutillo ISD

Canutillo ISD is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). As always, Canutillo ISD will follow the guidance of local, regional and national health authorities. Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Canutillo ISD or in El Paso County. The health and safety of Canutillo ISD students, faculty and staff are of utmost importance and our campus community should take the following everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • Practice good hand hygiene, including washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Follow appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Stay home, rest and avoid close contact with others when you are sick or with fever
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe

Canutillo ISD will remain vigilant of this situation as it changes and is prepared to act in a timely manner. The campus community should consult the CDC and City of El Paso Public Health Department for the most recent COVID-19 information. Canutillo ISD updates impacting students, faculty and staff will be announced via and via social media.

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