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Home | Tag Archives: coronavirus

Tag Archives: coronavirus

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

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

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

***(7/7/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/6/2020)

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

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

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

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

***(7/6/2020)

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***(7/5/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additionally, testing is available at the following sites:

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

Full details via this link.

***

***(7/5/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/4/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/3/2020)

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

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

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

·        2  males in their 80s

·        1 female in her 90s

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

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

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

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

***

***(7/2/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/2/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • July 3; July 6-11; July 13:

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

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

  • July 3, 5 and 12

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

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

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

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

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

  • July 6, 8, 10 and 13

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

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

  • July 7, 9 and 11

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

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

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

  • Monday, July 6:

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

  • Tuesday, July 7:

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

  • Wednesday, July 8:

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

  • Thursday, July 9:

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

  • Friday, July 10:

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

  • Saturday, July 11:

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

  • Monday, July 13:

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

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

***

***(7/2/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(7/1/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disaster declaration prohibiting sale and use of fireworks:

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

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

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

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

This disaster declaration will be issued today.

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

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

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

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

STAMPED 2020_fireworks ban_disaster declaration_Final

***

***(6/30/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

The Directive will be amended to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

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

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

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

Below is their official statement:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***(6/29/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

***(6/28/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(6/27/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

***(6/26/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

To read previous local information/releases, click on the dates below: 

March 3rd thru 9th   |   March 10th through 12th  |  March 13 through 15  |   March 15 thru 19th  |  March 20th thru 24th

March 25th thru 30th   |   March 31st thru April 7th  |  April 8th thru 21st  |  April 22nd thru 30th  |  May 1st thru 15th

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

El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from June 1st through 25th

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from June 1st through the 25th

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***

 

***(6/25/2020)

Thursday morning, officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health announced 175 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 4984.

Additionally, DPH reported three new COVID-19 deaths, raising the total to 125.

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

· A male in his 50s

· A male in his 60s

· A female in her 60s

There are now 3465 recovered cases, with 1394 active cases reported in the area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 63,400 tests.

Currently, there are 108 patients hospitalized, with 48 in ICU and 20 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.

***

***(6/24/2020)

El Paso Department of Public Health officials announced Wednesday 132 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 4809.

Additionally, the DPH reported no new COVID-19 deaths, so that total remains at 122.

There are now 3361 recovered cases, with 1326 active cases reported in the area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 61,800 tests.

Currently, there are 107 patients hospitalized, with 47 in ICU and 17 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.

***

***(6/23/2020)

Tuesday, El Paso Department of Public Health officials announced two additional deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the total to 122. Officials say a male and a female, both in their 70s with underlying health conditions.

Additionally, the DPH reported 124 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the overal total to 4,677.

There are now 3301 recovered cases, with 1254 active cases reported in the area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 60,400 tests.

Currently, there are 95 patients hospitalized, with 50 in ICU and 13 on ventilators.

Testing has been extended and a new walk up site has been opened, click here for complete dates/times/guidelines for testing.

Additional health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21- COVID hotline (915-212-6843), which is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6).

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(6/22/2020)

On Monday morning, officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health announced 65 new cases of COVID-19, raising the overall total cases to 4553.

No additional deaths were reported, so the overall total remains at 120.

There are now 3191 recovered cases, with 1242 active cases reported in the area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 57,000 tests.

Currently, there are 95 patients hospitalized, with 51 in ICU and 18 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.

***

***(6/21/2020)

Sunday morning, Department of Public Health officials announced 148 new COVID-19 cases are being reported for a cumulative total 4,488.

The total number of deaths remains at 120.

To date, 3,175 residents have recovered from the virus and the number of active cases increases to 1,193.  Overall, officials say that the DPH has performed an estimated 56,200 tests.

As of Sunday, 102 patients are hospitalized with 52 in ICU and 19 on ventilators.

Testing has been extended and a new walk up site has been opened, click here for complete dates/times/guidelines for testing.

Additional health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21- COVID hotline (915-212-6843), which is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6).

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***(6/20/2020)

Department of Public Health officials announced Saturday morning one (1) COVID-19 death; a female in her 70s with underlying health conditions, bringing the total number of deaths to 120.

DPH officials also noted 162 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the area’s total to 4,340. Public Health staff have advised that there are no clusters associated with this spike.

“Once all investigations are completed staff will be able to determine if this spike might be due to Memorial Day,” DPH officials added.

There are now recoveries 3154, with 1066 active cases reported in the area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 55,000 tests.

Currently, there are 108 patients hospitalized, with 52 in ICU and 20 on ventilators.

The public is reminded that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. 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 or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(6/19/2020)

Friday morning, officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health announced 90 new cases of COVID-19, raising the overall total cases to 4178.

No additional deaths were reported, keeping the total at 119.

There are now recoveries 3083, with 976 active cases reported in the area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 53,500 tests.

Currently, there are 106 patients hospitalized, with 52 in ICU and 21 on ventilators.

***(6/18/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting six (6) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 119.

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

  • a female in her 30s, with no underlying health conditions
  • a male in his 50s, with underlying conditions
  • two (2) males in their 70s, with underlying conditions
  • a female in her 80s, with underlying conditions
  • a male in his 80s, with underlying conditions

“Every time we report a death, it should bring about a sorrow in each of us. My worst fear is that we as a community become numb to danger of this virus,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Local Health Authority. “The continuing increase in cases and today’s reported deaths should remind everyone that we need to adhere to the protective measures of limiting your outings, wearing a face covering and washing your hands often with soap and water.”

Health officials noted that the six deaths did not occur on the same day. El Paso is also reporting 89 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 4,088. To-date 3,023 people have recovered from COVID-19; and so there are 946 active cases within the county.

City and County staff are reviewing the Local Emergency Directive to amend the face covering rules for local businesses. The amendment would require businesses to ensure customers and employees use face coverings while on the business’ premises.

The public is reminded that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. 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 or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***(6/18/2020) City, Anthony and Canutillo ISD Partner to Expand COVID-19 Testing

Canutillo and Anthony ISD are teaming up to offer free COVID-19 testing at Alderete Middle School, 801 Talbot Road in Canutillo.

The additional testing site is part of a collaboration with the City of El Paso’s Department of Public Health and Office of Emergency Management.

The additional COVID-19 drive-thru site will be conducted by appointment only. Testing will be from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, June 23
  • Tuesday, June 30
  • Tuesday, July 7
  • Tuesday, July 14

Members of the public are encouraged to request an appointment for COVID-19 testing by calling (915) 887-7620 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, or from 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Testing is open to everyone, with or without symptoms. The testing is free of charge and doctor referrals are not needed.

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

Additional health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21- COVID hotline (915-212-6843), which is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6).

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(6/17/2020)

For Wednesday, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting four (4) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 113.

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

· A female in her 40s

· Two (2) females in their 60s

· A male in his 70s

As we mentioned yesterday, DPH officials want to note that the four deaths did not occur on the same day; however, the data from the investigations, to include gathering of medical records, death certificates and pertinent information from each case was obtained on the same day.

El Paso is also reporting 51 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 3,999. To-date 2,914 people have recovered from COVID-19; so there are 972 active cases within the county.

Additional health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21-COVID hotline, which is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6).

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(6/16/2020) The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting seven (7) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 109.

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

  • a female in her 60s, with no underlying conditions
  • a male in his 50s
  • four (4) males in their 60s
  • a female in her 70s

“We send our sincere condolences to the loved ones of our latest COVID-19 victims. We also urge El Pasoans to do their part to protect themselves and protect our most vulnerable,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Local Health Authority. “Our community should understand that while we might see the number of cases decrease on some days we cannot waiver in sustaining strict protective healthy habits such as frequent handwashing, social distancing and wearing face coverings.”

Health officials noted that all seven deaths did not occur on the same day; however, the data from the investigations, to include gathering of medical records, death certificates and pertinent information from each case was obtained on the same day.

El Paso is also reporting 37 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 3,948. To-date 2,795 people have recovered from COVID-19; and so there are 1,044 active cases within the county.

The public is reminded that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. 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 or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

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.

***

***(6/15/2020)

Officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health announced Monday 77 new cases of COVID-19, raising the overall total cases to 3911.

Two additional deaths were reported, bringing that total to 102.  The patients were 2 females in their 90s, one had underlying health conditions.

There are now recoveries 2732, with 1077 active cases reported in the area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 49,200 tests.

Currently, there are 78 patients hospitalized, with 50 in ICU and 28 on ventilators.

Additionally, the Texas Military Department Mobile Testing Team (TMD-MTT) will continue COVID-19 testing in El Paso through June 22 at four mobile testing sites, one new walk-up site and various rural county sites.

The TMD-MTT testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. Persons are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online or by calling (512) 883-2400.

Testing is free and available to members of the community with or without COVID-19 symptoms. Click here to view the sites.

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.

***

***(6/14/2020)

On Sunday, officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health announced that the area now has 3834 total cases of COVID-19, an increase of 40 over the previous day.

COVID-19 recoveries now stand at 2712, with 1022 active cases reported.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 48,500 tests.  No additional deaths were reported, keeping the total at 100.

There are currently 85 patients hospitalized, with 51 in ICU and 27 on ventilators.

Additionally, the Texas Military Department Mobile Testing Team (TMD-MTT) will continue COVID-19 testing in El Paso through June 22 at four mobile testing sites, one new walk-up site and various rural county sites.

The TMD-MTT testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. Persons are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online or by calling (512) 883-2400.

Testing is free and available to members of the community with or without COVID-19 symptoms.

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

Saturday, June 13 through Monday, June 22:

  • Armijo Recreation Center and Pool; 710 E 7th Ave, El Paso, TX
  • Haskins Recreation Center; 7400 High Ridge, El Paso, TX
  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills, El Paso, TX
  • Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

A new indoor walk-up site is available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following dates and location. No appointment is needed for the walk-up site.

  • Tuesday, June 16 through Friday June 19 and Monday, June 22:

Nation Tobin Recreation Center, 8831 Railroad Dr., 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:

  • Saturday, June 13:

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

  • Monday, June 15:

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

  • Tuesday, June 16:

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

  • Wednesday, June 17:

Tornillo ISD Elementary Gym; 19200 Cobb Ave., Tornillo, TX

  • Thursday, June 18:

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

  • Friday, June 19:

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

  • Saturday, June 20:

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

  • Monday, June 22:

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

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.

***

***(6/13/2020)

El Paso Department of Public Health officials announced on Saturday that cases of COVID-19 had jumped by 99 patients, bringing the overall total to 3794.

Two additional deaths were reported, raising that total to 100. The male patient in his 80s and female patient in her 90s, both had underlying health conditions.

COVID-19 recoveries now stand at 2681, with 1013 active cases reported.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 47,800 tests.

There are currently 88 patients hospitalized, with 51 in ICU and 26 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.

***

***(6/12/2020)

On Friday, officials with El Paso Department of Public Health announced 45 new cases of COVID-19 , bringing the overall total to 3695.

Officials reported one additional death, raising that total to 98. The victim is a male in his 80s with underlying health conditions.

There are now 2600 recoveries, with 997 active COVID-19 cases in the El Paso area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 46,300 tests.

There are currently 85 patients hospitalized, with 45 in ICU and 27 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.

***

***(6/12/2020)City, Clint ISD partner for expanded COVID-19 testing

Clint Independent School District (CISD) will be offering COVID-19 testing services for the community beginning Monday, June 15.

The additional testing site is part of a collaboration with the City of El Paso’s Department of Public Health and Office of Emergency Management.

Below are the testing dates, times and locations:

MONDAY

June 15, 2020

TUESDAY

June 16, 2020

WEDNESDAY

June 17, 2020

THURSDAY

June 18, 2020

Frank Macias

Elementary School

Red Sands

Elementary School

Frank Macias

Elementary School

Clint High School
14400 Golden Eagle

El Paso TX 79928

4250 O’Shea

El Paso, TX 79938

14400 Golden Eagle

El Paso TX 79928

13890 Alameda

Clint, TX 79836

7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only and drop-ins will not be accommodated. Persons are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date at the Clint ISD COVID-19 Testing Hotline at (915) 926-4070 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Testing is free and available to members of the community with or without COVID-19 symptoms.

Additional health questions about COVID-19 can be made by calling the 21-COVID hotline, which is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6).

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***(6/11/2020)

Due to continued rise in cases of COVID-19 in both neighboring Hudspeth County, Texas and Eddy County, New Mexico, Guadalupe Mountains National Park will remain temporarily closed until further notice.

This is following guidance from the CDC, state and local public health authorities to protect visitors, as well as employees, volunteers, and residents.

Please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/gumo for details and updates on park operations.

***

***(6/11/2020)

The El Paso Department of Public Health announced four deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the toll to 97. Officials share that the patients who died were:

• a male in his 30s, with underlying health conditions

• a male in his 40s, with underlying health conditions

• a male in his 60s, with underlying health conditions

• a female in her 60s, with no underlying health conditions

Additionally, 68 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, bringing the overall total to 3650.

As of Thursday, DPH reported that there are 2538 recoveries, with 1015 active COVID-19 cases in the El Paso area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 45,300 tests.

There are currently 81 patients hospitalized, with 54 in ICU and 27 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.

***

***(6/11/2020)  Free assistance available for low-income individuals grappling with civil legal problems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

The State Bar of Texas and legal aid providers across the state remind Texans that a toll-free legal assistance hotline is available to low-income individuals and families confronted with civil legal problems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legal aid providers are already witnessing:

  • increased evictions as individuals are unable to pay rent,
  • employment law concerns as petitioners are denied unemployment benefits, and
  • family law matters as COVID-19 impacts child visitation and support.

People may call 800-504-7030 toll-free to be connected with legal service providers in their area. Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with Texas lawyers who can provide free legal help.

One number connects callers with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas serving North and West Texas; Lone Star Legal Aid serving Northeast, East, and Southeast Texas; and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid serving South and West Texas. Callers should be aware there are some limitations on the legal services available.

Online Resources

A webpage of COVID-19 resources is available at TexasLawHelp.org including information on eviction and tenants’ rights, unemployment benefits, family law matters, estate planning, and other matters. The website’s LiveChat feature can assist low-income individuals with their legal questions. The website is operated by Texas Legal Services Center.

Barratry or improper solicitation

The State Bar of Texas reminds the public that in many cases it is a crime in Texas for a lawyer or someone representing a lawyer to contact a person for purposes of legal representation if the person has not first requested the call or personal visit. The contact is not illegal if the attorney is not seeking payment or has a preexisting professional-client or family relationship with the person being contacted.

If you witness something you believe to be improper solicitation, or barratry, please get the name and phone number of the person making contact and report it to your local law enforcement authority or the State Bar of Texas Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office toll free at 866-224-5999.

Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (lanwt.org) — Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas is a nonprofit organization that strives to meet the legal needs of more than 1.5 million eligible clients in its 114-county service area. The fifth-largest legal aid program in the United States, LANWT provides a wide variety of broad-based legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients including family law, landlord/tenant cases, public benefits, wills, foreclosure prevention, consumer issues, and community revitalization matters.

Lone Star Legal Aid (lonestarlegal.org) — Lone Star Legal Aid is the fourth largest service provider of free legal aid in the United States. LSLA serves 72 counties in Texas and four in Arkansas, from Texarkana, to the Louisiana-Texas Gulf Coast state-line, down to Matagorda Bay, an area with over 2 million Texans eligible for free legal services. LSLA has 14 offices throughout east, southeast, and northeast Texas; covering consumer, housing, environmental justice, disaster recovery, tax relief, family law, domestic violence, sexual assault, crime victim rights, veterans benefits, and more.

State Bar of Texas (texasbar.com) — The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system.

Texas Legal Services Center (tlsc.org) — Texas Legal Services Center is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide high-quality legal representation, advice, advocacy, and education at no cost to underserved people across the state. With more than a dozen practice areas, our work touches almost every aspect of civil law that impacts low-income Texans.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (trla.org) — Texas RioGrande Legal Aid provides free legal services to approximately 23,000 low-income Texans in 68 southwestern counties including the entire Texas-Mexico border. TRLA attorneys specialize in more than 45 practice areas, including disaster assistance, family, employment, foreclosure, bankruptcy, subsidized housing, education, immigration, farmworker, civil rights, and environmental law.

***

***(6/10/2020)

The Texas Military Department Mobile Testing Team (TMD-MTT) will continue COVID-19 testing in El Paso through June 22 at four mobile testing sites, one new walk-up site and various rural county sites.

One of the four sites includes the Don Haskins Recreation Center, 7400 High Ridge, in West El Paso.

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.

The TMD-MTT testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. Persons are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online or by calling (512) 883-2400.

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

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

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

Saturday, June 13 through Monday, June 22:

  • Armijo Recreation Center and Pool; 710 E 7th Ave, El Paso, TX
  • Haskins Recreation Center; 7400 High Ridge, El Paso, TX
  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno Library; 12480 Pebble Hills, El Paso, TX
  • Memorial Swimming Pool; 3251 Copper Ave., El Paso, TX

A new indoor walk-up site is available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following dates and location. No appointment is needed for the walk-up site.

  • Tuesday, June 16 through Friday June 19 and Monday, June 22:

Nation Tobin Recreation Center, 8831 Railroad Dr., 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:

  • Saturday, June 13:

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

  • Monday, June 15:

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

  • Tuesday, June 16:

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

  • Wednesday, June 17:

Tornillo ISD Elementary Gym; 19200 Cobb Ave., Tornillo, TX

  • Thursday, June 18:

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

  • Friday, June 19:

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

  • Saturday, June 20:

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

  • Monday, June 22:

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.

***

***(6/10/2020)

Wednesday morning, officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health announced that 70 new cases have been added to the overall tally, bringing the area’s total COVID-19 cases to 3582.

There are 2430 recoveries, with 1059 active COVID-19 cases in the El Paso area.  According to the DPH, they have performed an estimated 44,300 tests.

No new deaths were reported on Wednesday, so the total number of deaths stands at 93.

82 patients are currently hospitalized, with 59 in ICU and 27 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.

***

***(6/9/2020)

El Paso Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday morning that 59 new cases have been added to the overall tally, bringing the area’s total COVID-19 cases to 3512.

DPH officials also said that two more patients had died due to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 93.   Both males, one in his 70’s and one in his 80’s, had underlying health conditions.

As of Tuesday morning, there are 2369 recoveries, with 1050 active cases of COVID-19 in the El Paso area.  Additionally, an estimated 43,800 tests have been performed by DPH.

95 patients are currently hospitalized, with 61 in ICU and 29 on ventilators.

For a comprehensive list of COVID-19 data, visit the COVID-19 Data page found at www.epstrong.org.

***(6/8/2020)

Monday morning, officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health released the new totals for COVID-19 cases in the area.

One additional person has died, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 to 91. The patient was a female in her 50s with underlying health conditions.

Overall, officials reported 77 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the overall total number of cases to 3453.

Currently, there are 2290 recoveries, with 1072 active cases of COVID-19 in the El Paso area.  Additionally, an estimated 43,000-plus tests have been performed by DPH.

96 patients are currently hospitalized, with 64 in ICU and 34 on ventilators.

For a comprehensive list of COVID-19 data visit the COVID-19 Data page found at www.epstrong.org.

***

***(06/08/2020) Hospitals of Providence to Allow Visitors in Emergency Room

The Hospitals of Providence announced effective today, June 8, the emergency room visitation policy will now allow one designated visitor to accompany each patient within the emergency room (ER).

“We understand the importance of having a loved one at your side during a time of emergency and the critical role they play in providing comfort and support.  In collaboration with physician leadership, we have determined that the timing is right to allow visitors in the ER,” said Nicholas Tejeda, Group Chief Executive Officer for The Hospitals of Providence.  “We will continue to evaluate our visitor policy to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors, staff, and physicians.”

Visitors will be screened for fever, respiratory symptoms or travel to high risk locations prior to entering the hospital, and required to wear a facemask, and sanitize their hands. Any visitor not meeting screening criteria will not be permitted to enter the hospital emergency room.

All staff, physicians, patients and visitors are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the hospital.

The Hospitals of Providence, including emergency rooms, have standards in place built upon deep clinical expertise and ongoing management of COVID-19, as well as continuous incorporation of CDC, CMS and state recommendations. They are a rigorous combination of infection prevention processes, training, testing, personal protective equipment and technology.

Standards include the following components:

  • COVID Care Areas – separate areas and protocols
  • Rigorous physician and staff protocols – daily screening, universal masking and access to PPE
  • Heightened sanitization – enhanced cleaning of surfaces and plenty of hand sanitization stations
  • Access to COVID-19 testing – testing for patients, physicians and staff who require it
  • Precautions for patients and visitors – provision of facemasks, hand sanitizer and physical distancing
  • Enhanced virtual access – virtual care, remote monitoring as well as connectivity with loved ones

***

***(6/7/2020)

Starting this week, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank will distribute nutritious food to community members in need of food assistance at three new mobile pantry sites.
This is the second expansion in a week for the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank.
Last week, officials announced the addition of two new drive through distribution sites, bringing the total number of drive through sites to six.  Click here to read about their expansion.
The following  are the addresses and  times for the new Mobile Pantry Sites:
Westside Community Church – 201 E Sunset Rd, El Paso, TX, 79922

Tuesdays beginning 6/9/2020 from 9AM to 12PM

St. Luke’s Church – 930 E Redd Rd, El Paso, TX, 79912

Wednesdays beginning 6/17/2020 from 9AM to 12PM

Vino Nuevo West – 1035 Belvidere St, El Paso, TX, 79912

Thursdays beginning 6/11/2020 from 9AM – 12PM

To donate to the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, click here.

***(6/7/2020)

On Sunday, officials with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 3376 total COVID-19 cases in the county, an increase of 78 cases.

To date, 2266 people have recovered from COVID-19; with 1020 active cases within the county. There are no additional COVID-19 deaths, the total number of deaths remains at 90.

Officials added that over 43,000 test had been performed, with the DPH lab having tested 6276, resulting in 5533 negative results.

Beginning Monday, June 8, all City Parks will be opened to include skate parks and outdoor basketball/tennis courts.

Due to ongoing health concerns regarding COVID-19, playgrounds and fitness equipment within parks will remain closed until further notice.

Park visitors are asked to follow health and safety guidelines that include social distancing protocols, wearing a face covering and no gathering in groups of more than 10.

City permits are also needed for organized functions, such as games and practices.

The City’s Local Emergency Directive has been amended to reflect the City’s scheduled reopened services and the executed amendment will be made available at www.epstrong.org under “Health Orders.”

Health officials, once again, strongly advise the public to continue practicing preventive measures such as observing social distancing, wearing a face covering, staying home if you are sick, and frequently washing your hands with soap and water. Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.

Infected persons with little to no symptoms can still spread the virus to others and the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if the person is one of our most vulnerable residents such as our seniors, people with underlying health conditions and those who are immunocompromised.

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.

***

***(6/6/2020)

On Saturday, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 85 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 3298.

To date 2241 people have recovered from COVID-19; and so there are 967 active cases within the county. There are no additional COVID-19 deaths, the total number of deaths remains at 90.

The public is reminded that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. 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 is 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 or possibly be inhaled into the lungs; and
  • Be aware that some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are infected but not showing symptoms.

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.

***

***(6/5/2020) Officials Plan to Cautiously Reopen Parks, Museums, Libraries, Zoo

With the support of the Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Public Health, and in consultation with the Local Health Authority, the City of El Paso will begin to reopen portions of Quality of Life services over the next several weeks to include parks, two museums, some Library services and portions of the El Paso Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

“We have determined that now is the time to start phasing and reopening some of our most important quality of life recreation areas,” said City of El Paso Mayor Dee Margo.

“We know that exercise and being outdoors is a key factor in maintaining good mental health during stressful times. We also appreciate the need to feed the mind with new reading material and learn new things about our history, art and wildlife, so it is encouraging to see our Quality of Life facilities re-opening. It is still imperative, however, that we continue practicing behaviors that are known to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The City’s Local Emergency Directive has been amended to reflect the City’s scheduled reopened services and the executed amendment will be made available at www.epstrong.org under “Health Orders.” Additional amendments are still being reviewed by the City and County officials and will be provided to the public once completed.

PARKS AND RECREATIONS

Beginning Monday, June 8, all City Parks will be opened to include skate parks and outdoor basketball/tennis courts.

Due to ongoing health concerns regarding COVID-19, playgrounds and fitness equipment within parks will remain closed until further notice.

Park visitors are asked to follow health and safety guidelines that include social distancing protocols, wearing a face covering and no gathering in groups of more than 10. City permits are also needed for organized functions, such as games and practices.

Beginning Wednesday, July 1, City spray parks will be opened during the following limited hours of operations:

  • Tuesdays through Sundays

o   10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

o   5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

There will be an extended cleaning break on open days to ensure proper hygiene and staff will conduct enhanced cleaning during closed days.

Also beginning Wednesday, July 1, select regional recreation centers will be reopened Monday through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and on Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The regional recreation centers to be opened are:

  • Don Haskins (7400 High Ridge Dr.)
  • Veterans (5301 Salem Dr.)
  • Pat O’Rourke (901 N Virginia St.)
  • Gary del Palacio (3001 Parkwood St.)
  • Pavo Real (9301 Alameda Ave.)
  • Marty Robbins (11620 Vista Del Sol Dr.)
  • Officer David Ortiz (563 N Carolina Dr.)

The public will be required to wear face coverings except when participating in sports and aerobic activity. Select classes will be offered at reduced attendance capacity.

The public is asked to adhere to all applicable State minimum standard health protocols and Local Health Authority Orders.

City pools and senior centers remain closed to the public. However, the City has formed a cross-functional team that has created a plan of action to reopen during future phases.

EL PASO PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Beginning Monday, June 29, three (3) libraries will be available for curbside check-out services on a limited basis:

  • Dorris Van Doren (551 Redd Rd.)

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays

  • Esperanza Acosta Moreno (12480 Pebble Hills Blvd.)

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursdays

  • Richard Burges (9600 Dyer St.)

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Mondays and Thursdays

Materials will need to be checked out online and picked up by appointment to ensure safety for staff and the public. Face coverings will be required for library patrons engaged in library activities.  For more information, visit www.elpasolibrary.org.

 

MUSEUMS

Beginning, Thursday, July 2, the City will reopen the El Paso Museum of Art and the El Paso Museum of History during the following limited hours of operations:

  • 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays
  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Attendance will be monitored to ensure that social distancing guidelines are followed and all visitors will be required to wear face coverings. Classes, camps, lectures and artist demonstrations will be offered virtually until further notice. The Digital Wall at Museum of History will remain closed until further notice, but will continue to be accessible via online at: digie.org.

The health, safety and well-being of the community and the City’s workforce remains top priority when reintroducing limited City services.

A detailed Reopening of Services Plan will be presented in its entirety during the City Council work session scheduled for Monday, June 8

***

***(6/5/2020) EPCSO: ‘No cases’ of COVID-19 at Jail Annex

Officials with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement Friday afternoon:

There have been recent reports by health officials advising of a sharp increase in COVID-19 positive cases due to a cluster at a local correctional-detention facility.

The El Paso County Jail Annex, which is operated by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, is located in the same general area of the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail, which is operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

While we cannot comment on the current status of the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail, the El Paso County Jail Annex currently has zero COVID-19 cases.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office continues to work with medical staff to implement necessary procedures and provide equipment to limit the outbreak of the virus in the workplace and within our inmate population. This would include providing personal protective equipment to our personnel and the inmates.

Additionally, screenings are required to gain access to any Sheriff’s Office building in order to ensure the safety and well-being of personnel and the public. we serve.

***

***(6/5/2020) DPH: Total COVID-19 cases rise to 3213; 90th death reported; 2133 total recoveries, with 990 active cases

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting one (1) COVID-19 death and a triple-digit spike in positive cases, due in part to the cluster seen at a local correctional-detention facility.

The 90th death is a female in her 20s with underlying health conditions.

El Paso is reporting 144 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s cumulative total to 3,213 cases. To-date 2,133 people have recovered from COVID-19; and so there are 990 active cases within the county.

DPH, which is in the process of evaluating the data, reports that about half of today’s cases are associated with a cluster seen at a local correctional-detention facility. A cluster is a collection of two (2) or more cases of the virus in the same area at the same time.

The DPH and Office of Emergency Management is working on updating the previously provided breakdown of clusters for the community.

“Every death is not just a number. Each of these individuals are someone’s loved one and we grieve with them for their loss,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Local Health Authority.

“What might be concerning for some is the age of this patient. Up to now, the majority of our deaths have been older persons, while our youth seem to be mildly impacted. However, this young woman had underlying medical conditions, which is a common factor for many of our deaths. Our health status does affect the capacity of our bodies to combat not only this virus, but many diseases. Which is why we must take the necessary precautions to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, especially those at higher risk.”

Health officials, once again, strongly advise the public to continue practicing preventive measures such as observing social distancing, wearing a face covering, staying home if you are sick, and frequently washing your hands with soap and water. Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.

Infected persons with little to no symptoms can still spread the virus to others and the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if the person is one of our most vulnerable residents such as our seniors, people with underlying health conditions and those who are immunocompromised.

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.

***

***(6/4/2020)

Today the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 197 new COVID-19 cases, the largest spike to-date.

Health officials advised the sharp increase is due to a cluster at a local correctional-detention facility that accounted for 145 new cases. A cluster is a collection of two (2) or more cases of the virus in the same area at the same time.

“The Cluster Management Task Force has been working to increase testing aimed at testing specific facilities that house at-risk populations, and/or where there is a greater risk for an outbreak to include, among others, care facilities for the elderly and correctional/detention facilities,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jorge A. Rodriguez, Emergency Management Coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management. “We have also worked to provide these facilities guidance on how to address and prevent these outbreaks.”

The DPH and Office of Emergency Management are working on updating the previously provided breakdown of clusters for the community.

As previously reported the source of exposure for COVID-19 remains at about 50 percent close contact (family members, friends or co-workers); about 20 percent community-transmitted (cases occurring among those who did not have any known contact with infected persons); about 20 percent travel-related and about 10 percent of the cases are under investigation.

***

***(6/4/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting one (1) COVID-19 death and a triple-digit spike in positive cases.

The 89th death is a male in his 40s with underlying health conditions.

El Paso is reporting 197 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s cumulative total to 3,069 cases. To-date 1,921 people have recovered from COVID-19; and so there are 1,059 active cases within the county.

For a comprehensive list of COVID-19 data visit the COVID-19 Data page found at www.EPStrong.org.

“Our hearts go out to this gentleman who lost his battle against this devastating virus, and to his family we send our sincerest condolences,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Local Authority. “As I’ve said before this spike clearly shows that many people do not adhere to the warnings and preventative measures we have clearly stated. We must each acknowledge that we are responsible for our own actions, which affects our friends and family. Why risk yours or their lives?”

City and County officials are reviewing and will update our Local Directive to reflect Governor Abbott’s announcement of Phase 3 plan to safely open the economy while containing the spread of COVID-19. Noting the severity of COVID-19, health officials advise that it is critical El Paso move forward with caution and due diligence.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. Community members should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, especially those who are the most vulnerable (person 65 or older and/or with pre-existing health conditions).

Health officials strongly advise to continue practicing social distancing, wear a face covering, stay home if you are sick, and frequently wash your hands with soap and water. Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for maintaining 6-feet social distancing and hand washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus.

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.

***

***(6/3/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting five (5) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 88.

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

  • a female in her 60s
  • a male in his 50s, with no underlying medical conditions
  • a male in his 50s
  • a male in his 70s
  • a male in his 90s

“We send our sincerest condolences to the families of these five families who have lost their loved one due to COVID-19. My worst fear is that we as a community become numb to danger of this virus,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Local Health Authority. “We cannot afford to be complacent toward the seriousness of this virus; otherwise we will continue to compromise our lives and the lives of those who are most susceptible. Each additional case means the potential for community exposure also increases.”

El Paso is also reporting 39 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 2,872. To-date 1,797 people have recovered from COVID-19; and so there are 987 active cases within the county.

We want to remind the public of the importance of keeping safe as the virus still lurks in the community. Here are some safety tips to protect yourself and others:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Wear a face covering when out in public.
  • Do not put a face covering on children under the age of two, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
  • Social distance from others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart (about two arms’ length) from other people.
  • Do not gather in groups.
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
  • Clean and disinfect your home.
  • Clean frequently used surfaces and items.
  • Use an EPA registered household disinfectant.

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.

***

***(6/3/2020)  Socorro ISD partners with Urgent Care for Kids to provide COVID-19 testing to community, employees

The Socorro Independent School District, in partnership with Virtual Care for Families and Urgent Care for Kids, will be providing COVID-19 testing for SISD employees and community starting on June 5 for employees at the SISD Aquatic Center, 1257 Southview Dr., then open to the community starting June 8.

As the need for COVID-19 testing continues to grow, SISD is joining with Virtual Care for Families, the largest Texas based telemedicine provider, and their Urgent Care services, Urgent Care for Kids, to provide a safe, dependable, and conveniently located testing service.

“Moving forward in the COVID-19 pandemic, our utmost concern remains the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, employees, families and entire community,” said SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D. “We’re proud to team up with Urgent Care for Kids to take proactive measures and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are continuously working to Keep SISD Safe and we encourage Team SISD members to take advantage of this valuable testing.”

All COVID-19 testing will be free for all children and adults without health insurance, courtesy of the CARES Act. Most major health insurance covers the test, as well, including Cigna which is the healthcare provider for SISD benefit-eligible employees. Please see below for opening dates, times, and locations for testing:

  • Friday, June 5, 8 to 11 a.m. at the SISD Aquatic Center (1257 Southview Dr, El Paso), for employees then available for everyone in the SISD community Monday, June 8, 8 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Monday, June 15, 8 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday at Salvador H. Sanchez Middle (321 N Rio Vista Rd, Socorro).

“There’s a great need for additional COVID testing in the Socorro area, and we’re working hard to increase access for the community alongside Socorro ISD,” said Melissa Bauman, Senior Vice President of Telemedicine. “Our goal is to provide drive-through curbside testing at multiple sites in the area as well as offer on-demand virtual visits to help limit exposure to the virus,” said Bauman.

All COVID-19 testing provided through the remote site will require a virtual screening via Virtual Care for Families, where a doctor will medically recommend testing based on symptoms and exposure. Be sure to pre-register online to save time at the drive-through testing site.

***

***(6/2/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting three (3) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 83.

The patients are a female and two males in their 80s, all had underlying medical conditions.

“We send our sincere condolences to the loved ones of our latest COVID-19 victims. We also wish to remind El Pasoans that our community’s curve will not flatten until each of us realizes our own responsibilities to prevent the spread,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Local Health Authority. “Our community should understand that is everyone’s responsibility to not waiver in developing strict healthy habits such as frequent handwashing, social distancing and wearing face coverings.”

El Paso is also reporting 39 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 2,833. To-date 1,704 people have recovered from COVID-19; and so there are 1,046 active cases within the county.

The public is reminded that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. 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 is 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 or possibly be inhaled into the lungs; and
  • Be aware that some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are infected but not showing symptoms.

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.

***

***(6/1/2020)

The City of El Paso’s  Community and Human Development and Economic Development Departments are now accepting applications from non-profit agencies and government entities for the CARES Treasury Relief Funds and Entitlement Grants.

Applications are due at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5, 2020.

The City received CARES funds for coronavirus response and recovery programs, which include $16,277,672 for Community Programs and $18,505,000 for Economic Programs.

The CARES Treasury Relief Funds and Entitlement Grants provide federal funding to support locally driven strategies that address community development needs for struggling community members, households, and businesses as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

City leaders and stakeholders, such as service providers, foundations and granting agencies, local businesses, and university officials have come together to create and implement a plan to address the challenges the community is facing as a result of the pandemic.

The CARES funds will focus on the following three goals:

  • Housing and Basic Needs

o   Provide rental and mortgage assistance, utility help, and rapid rehousing to stabilize the housing situations of residents

o   Promote long-term ability of residents to achieve their housing goals

o   Ensure those impacted by COVID-19 have access to basic needs, such as food, childcare, and domestic violence and abuse prevention that are vital to one’s health and wellbeing

  • Livelihood and Employment

o   Deliver financial support to small businesses, microenterprise, and independent contractors who are struggling to meet financial obligations as a result of the pandemic

  • Fostering Economic Prosperity

o   Deliver financial and technical support to the local business community with a focus on small businesses, including microenterprises and independent contractors, to improve business liquidity and cash flow in the short-term, while also stimulating demand and consumer spending and supporting measures to re-start and continue operations.

For information, please click on the “Guidance” tab at www.epstrong.org/.

***

***(6/1/2020) Testing Extended at Various Locations around area

The Texas Military Department Mobile Testing Team (TMD-MTT) will continue COVID-19 testing in El Paso through June 12 at one of the four mobile testing sites and various rural community sites.

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.

The TMD-MTT testing locations are drive-thru and by appointment only. Persons are asked to make an appointment 24 hours prior to the testing date either online at WWW.TXCOVID TEST.ORG or by calling (512) 883-2400.

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

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

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

June 3 – June 12:

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

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

Wednesday, June 3:

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

Thursday, June 4:

  • West Valley Fire Department; 510 Vinton Road, Anthony, TX

Friday, June 5:

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

Saturday, June 6:

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

Sunday, June 7:

  • Tornillo ISD Elementary Gym; 19200 Cobb Ave., Tornillo, TX

Monday, June 8:

  • San Elizario Fire Station; 1415 San Antonio Rd., San Elizario, TX

Tuesday, June 9:

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

Wednesday, June 10:

  • Tornillo ISD Elementary Gym; 19200 Cobb Ave., Tornillo, TX

Thursday, June 11:

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

Friday, June 12:

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

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

***

***(6/1/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting two (2) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 80.

The patients are a man in his 50s and a woman in her 90s, both had underlying medical conditions.

“Today is another somber day for our community, we send our thoughts and prayers to the families of these two individuals,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Local Health Authority. “We know that for young adults, COVID-19 might be a mild disease, but the virus can be transmitted to a vulnerable loved one that may suffer severe complications, including death, from the disease.”

El Paso is also reporting 30 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 2,794. To-date 1,621 people have recovered from COVID-19; and so there are 1,093 active cases within the county.

The public is reminded that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. 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 is 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 or possibly be inhaled into the lungs; and
  • Be aware that some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are infected but not showing symptoms.

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.

***

To read previous local information/releases, click on the dates below: 

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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.

 

Clint ISD offers needed medical equipment from shuttered academy

In an effort to share available resources to help the community combat COVID-19 (Coronavirus), officials with Clint ISD announced they are offering needed medical equipment to local hospitals in the El Paso area.

According to district public information officer Laura Cade, the Clint ISD Health Professions Academy located at Mountain View High School is closed and houses equipment and supplies that can immediately be used by local hospitals.

Equipment such as hospital beds and stretchers, as well as supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital pillows will be offered to community hospitals in need.

CISD officials added that they invite other school districts throughout the El Paso area to do the same.

According to the Mountain View High website, the specialty school is open to all students from the area:

“The Center of Health Professions at Mountain View is a health care professional preparation program offered to students throughout El Paso area.

Students that join in can choose from four available pathways where they will gain hand-on experience in a health care setting.”

Clint ISD Health Professionals Academy | photo courtesy

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.”

Authors: SHANNON NAJMABADI AND JAY ROOT – The Texas Tribune

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.

Marathon Petroleum donates 9,600 masks to University Medical Center, El Paso Children’s Hospital

Thanks to a donation from Marathon Petroleum, University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC) and El Paso Children’s Hospital (EPCH) now have 9,600 N95 respirator masks.

The donation was made possible through the COVID-19 Compassionate Care Fund, a new program set up by UMC Foundation to support healthcare during this crisis.

“This was something our company wanted to do,” said VJ Smith, Government & Public Affairs Manager at Marathon Petroleum in El Paso. “Safety is a top priority for us in the communities where we are privileged to operate. We listened to what our healthcare workers on the front lines said they will need in the coming weeks, and the pandemic plan our company has in place allowed us to be able to make this donation swiftly. We hope this donation will make everyone’s job safer as we all stand together in facing this unprecedented event.”

On Friday afternoon, a truck delivered the masks to the hospitals.

“Generosity from companies such as Marathon Petroleum relieves some of our stress,” said Jacob Cintron, UMC President and CEO. “We are living in a time of unprecedented uncertainty when it comes to COVID-19. However, when it comes to El Paso companies such as Marathon Petroleum, who have already stepped up to support our efforts, we are reminded again why we are ‘El Paso Strong.’ We can depend on each other, especially in times of crisis. I know we can always count on Marathon Petroleum. Our thanks go to the entire Marathon Petroleum team.”

Based on patient volumes, UMC received 7,800 masks; EPCH received 1,800. The masks were delivered as the hospitals and the entire El Paso community prepare for the potential surge in patients infected with novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The importance of these masks and the level of safety they provide our nurses, physicians and other staff cannot be overstated,” said Cindy Stout, EPCH President & CEO. “Marathon Petroleum is a strong and valued member of our El Paso community and I am happy they are standing shoulder to shoulder with us as we continue to provide safe quality care for our community.”

Click here to donate to UMC Foundation’s COVID-19 Compassionate Care Fund.  For more information about the fund, call Estela Casas, UMC Foundation Executive Director at (915) 487-7987.

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.

Video+Gallery: Kelly Memorial Food Pantry hosts food distribution Friday afternoon

On Friday afternoon, Kelly Memorial Food Pantry and their volunteers held a open food distribution event at their location in Central El Paso.

Scores of El Pasoans made their way to the facilities parking lot, where volunteers with protective gear handed out the boxes of food.

For those wishing to help, officials share that volunteers – in good health – and ages 17 through 59 are still needed (send an email to kquintanar@kmfp.org or smolina@kmfp.org)

Our very own Ruben R. Ramirez was there – respecting the Social Distancing procedures – and we bring you his view of the distribution via this gallery and video.

Analysis: Coronavirus and local control in Texas

Only three COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the 22 counties in state Rep. Drew Springer’s North Texas House district, and he said Thursday that a lot of people “are just coming to the realization about why we need social distancing.”

“There were more people on the road in Gainesville and Muenster yesterday than in New York City,” he said.

“My constituents would have argued [earlier] that we’re drastically overreacting,” Springer said. “I think as they have started hearing more, they’re coming around. … I’m waiting to see whether the cases here, and the names of people who get sick, will change people’s opinions.”

Pandemic is a word for a disease that is no longer local, that has taken on worldwide scope.

But the responses to the new coronavirus pandemic in Texas and elsewhere are distinctly local and vary deeply — from the mostly voluntary shelter-in-place orders in effect in the state’s most populated cities and counties to the wait-and-see positions of governments and businesses elsewhere.

Those local differences help explain why statewide officials like Gov. Greg Abbott have been so reluctant to issue statewide stay-at-home orders. Metropolitan areas are aggressively putting social distancing rules in place, while less populated parts of Texas are more reticent.

Reports of COVID-19 cases might not be as prevalent outside of the metropolitan areas, and official actions have been slower and less restrictive.

In Midland, many residents have continued their normal routines, shopping in grocery stores and at busy retail locations. The city hasn’t issued restrictive orders but has been talking about it. There’s a striking parallel between the places restricting social gathering and the political map, but that’s not what some politicians see.

“I don’t know if it’s a red versus blue thing; it’s a human nature thing,” said Jack Ladd Jr., a member of the Midland City Council. “A lot of people want to see something like this before they react.”

That visibility is increasing as cases pop up in Midland. And the county recorded its first death attributed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, this week, which has prompted more discussion from public leaders.

At the same time Abbott was issuing his first set of emergency orders, Anderson County in East Texas was doing the same, barring gatherings of 10 people or more and asking people to limit their interactions.

County Judge Robert Johnston said the reaction “has been pretty positive overall.” He said some churches have pushed back, noting many of them don’t have the kind of internet access that would allow online services to replace in-person congregation.

The order has limited gatherings but hasn’t kept people inside, Johnston said. “No, I don’t think they’re staying at home. They are eating at home, still running errands, but there are fewer people out.”

So far, the county hasn’t reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19, either from its general population or from any of its five state prisons.

The county has no plans to impose a shelter-in-place order, he said, but suggested it might not be necessary. “People know if we’re going to get a hand on this, we’re going to have to stay home.”

Lubbock stopped short of telling residents to stay at home, but it did put restrictions in place. Lubbock’s emergency order, Mayor Dan Pope said, “is like the stay-at-home orders elsewhere, without the panic in it.”

“You know West Texas,” he said. “We have a little more common sense … and a healthy sense of skepticism.

“I would say people are in two camps — those who have bought in and understand and are really staying home, and another group that’s harder to reach,” he said.

He said Lubbock’s two hospitals are well situated at the moment — they can open another 40 ICU beds if needed — and added that “we don’t have any stress on our health care system” at this time. As of Thursday, the city had a drive-through testing center, and he said it plans to have a total of four by Monday. Lubbock County had 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, he said.

Springer’s House District 68, which stretches from north of Dallas-Fort Worth across North Texas and into the Panhandle, is seeing a new kind of visitor he attributes to the pandemic: shoppers.

“The odd stuff here is really the foot traffic,” he said.

One meat market sold out in a matter of hours this week. “Some of the stores are limiting sales,” he said, to allow locals a chance to buy groceries and supplies before out-of-towners scoop them up.

He said the county clerks in Cooke and Montague counties have seen a rush of lovebirds from the D-FW area, where the courthouses are closed, seeking marriage certificates. “The clerk has to actually see both people to issue a license,” he said. “Some of them don’t want to wait.”

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.

Grant to USO El Paso supports quarantined troops

The El Paso Community Foundation and the Cardwell Foundation have made a grant to the USO El Paso to support soldiers in mandatory quarantine.

The $60,000 grant — from the Cardwell Foundation and the Julie and Jim Cardwell Fund in  the El Paso Community Foundation — will help USO El Paso support troops being placed in  mandatory quarantine upon returning from Europe, some from high-risk areas.

The gift will pay for toiletries and hygiene products, such as soap and shaving cream, snacks and other needs for the returning troops.

There are already several soldiers on the ground on a 14-day observation protocol with  more expected to arrive within the next several days. The quarantine period will restart if a  service member becomes symptomatic and/or tests positive.

Symptomatic soldiers will be  quarantined in a training area on Fort Bliss, according to Yolanda Castillo, USO El Paso  Director.

“We cannot adequately express the impact this support will make to those serving the  nation and coming home in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. This gift will go a long  way,” Castillo said.

The Cardwell Foundation is affiliated with the El Paso Community Foundation.

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.

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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.

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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.

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank: 80 volunteers needed; Monetary donations requested

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 complete 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.

EPFH is distributing 600 boxes per week to these seniors. However, it is impossible for us to be able to do this difficult work without the support of our community members.

We need to recruit 80 volunteers (40 per shift AM and PM) per day as quickly as possible. Volunteers need to be in good health and a minimum of 12 years old. EPFH has implemented a health and hygiene protocol to keep volunteers safe.

People who cannot volunteer are strongly encouraged to assist EPFH with monetary donations. $1 equates to 7 meals.

In addition, EPFH plans to begin distributing drive-through emergency box distribution at EPFHFB (9541 Plaza Circle) later this week and at Kelly Center for Hunger Relief (915 N Florence St) starting Monday, March 23, 2020.

EPFH is in the process of identifying 3 other large distribution sites in the near future to ensure broad coverage across El Paso County.

In the interim, if El Pasoans find themselves in need of food, they can come to 9541 Plaza Circle Drive for an emergency food box between 8 am and 5 pm.

EPFH is carefully monitoring developments regarding the community spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, EPFH is committed to serving communities and individuals facing hunger across El Paso, Culberson and Hudspeth Counties, wherever they are.

EPFH’s internal food bank crisis team is partnering with Feeding America, the network of 200 food banks, and local partners to ensure the safest handling of food and distributions to our communities. We are assessing new distribution activities to meet the evolving needs.

EPFH is built to support the community during uncertain times like these. Everyone is experiencing this for the first time. We’d like to thank our staff, volunteers, donors and community members for their understanding and continued support.

VIDEO+INFO: Cornyn Supports Families First Coronavirus Response Act

WASHINGTON – Wednesday on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) expressed his support for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to protect the health and safety of Texans and provide much-needed economic relief to those struggling with the impact of this epidemic.

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

“The difficult decisions that need to be made by elected officials and business owners and community leaders when they decide to shut down normal parts of our daily lives; these are not easy decisions for them to make.”

“This is an all-too familiar struggle for millions of Americans who are unable to go to work during this pandemic and are facing serious economic uncertainty about their future. Those in the service industry, especially those who rely on tips, are among the hardest hit. I’m glad to say that soon the Senate will take action to provide additional relief.”

“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will help protect both the physical and financial health of our country by supporting workers and their families impacted by the virus. It will remove financial barriers for Texans who need access to coronavirus testing regardless of income or insurance coverage.”

“The bottom line is no one will have to pay to be tested for the coronavirus, period. This legislation also includes a range of provisions to provide financial security for those who are unable to work, and that’s because they are protecting the public health. It will create a new federal emergency paid sick leave program for those impacted by the coronavirus. That means that any Texan, any American who’s diagnosed, quarantining, or caring for a dependent who is impacted by this virus will be able to take 14 days of paid sick leave.”

“This bill also makes changes to unemployment insurance. It will temporarily waive requirements for workers to prove that they are actively searching for work during the public health emergency response, and it will provide $1 billion in emergency grants to states to support processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits.”

“This bill also takes serious steps to strengthen food security for those who are struggling with reliable access to healthy meals.”

“This legislation provides a quarter of a billion dollars for the Senior Nutrition Program to provide home-delivered meals to low-income seniors. It also provides a half a billion dollars for federal food stamps.”

“That’s why I plan to support this bill when a vote is scheduled.”

“It’s time to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and that we provide this needed relief to the American people as soon as possible.”

What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Means for Texas

The Senate will soon vote on the Families Fist Coronavirus Response Act to help Americans deal with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • Ensures no Texan will have to pay for COVID-19 testing by providing $1 billion to pay COVID-19 testing fees for the uninsured and requires all insurance to cover testing fees.
  • Provides 14 days of paid sick leave for Texas workers to cover diagnosis, quarantine, or care for dependents and expands the Family Medical Leave Act to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers who need to care for affected dependents due to closures.
  • Expands SNAP benefits to Texas families that depend on reduced or free meals through school, including two-thirds of schoolchildren in the state.  Sen. Cornyn also recently announced that USDA provided Texas with a waiver to allow students to continue to receive free meals despite school closures.
  • Expands access to home delivery meals for the elderly with $240 million so they can remain safely in isolation.
  • Expands unemployment benefits during this time of uncertainty by waiving the work-search requirement so that Texans can practice isolation, and authorizes $1 billion in emergency grants for states and interest-free loans to process and pay unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Takes care of servicemembers and veterans with $82 million for COVID-19 related expenses for military personnel and Dept. of Defense employees and $60 million for veterans’ related medical services.
  • Authorizes an additional $500 million for low-income women and children affected by COVID-19 through the USDA Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program, in which 650,000 Texans are currently enrolled.
  • Provides $400 million for food banks, including the at least 21 food banks in Texas that cover every one of our 254 counties.
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