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Home | Tag Archives: COVID-19 pandemic

Tag Archives: COVID-19 pandemic

EPCC’s Social Work Club continues community service amid COVID-19 Pandemic

While the novel Coronavirus has disrupted much of daily life, it hasn’t kept El Paso Community College’s (EPCC) Social Work Club from their commitment to community service.

When the pandemic hit, the club started making cloth masks to distribute in the community. After learning the benefits clear masks provide to increase communication for the Deaf community, the club began making them.

So far, the group has made 70 clear masks and has over 100 requests for additional masks, from far-ranging places across the state, like San Antonio and Brownsville, to other states, such as New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Past-President of the Social Work Club and recent EPCC Social Work Graduate, Gloria Vidal, has been spearheading these mask-making efforts.

“It has been an honor to be a part of this club and it has been an honor to lead this club. My passion to help has been complemented by the hard work and dedication of the club team members. I owe great gratitude and appreciation to my fantastic club members for sharing my commitment to helping the community.”

Masks aren’t the only way the club is helping the community during this difficult time. They’ve also been visiting the Delta Center, a temporary shelter that was opened to help those affected and left homeless by COVID-19.

Michelle Hazelwood, a Social Work Major and very active club member, is also a licensed Cosmetologist and volunteered to cut the hair of the guests there since she knows that self-care is critical for people in recovery. She reached out to the other members of the Social Work Club, who supported her by going with her and feeding the homeless while Michelle cuts hair and by helping her financially with the sanitation supplies needed to give the haircuts.

“The Social Work Club has given me a sense of belonging that I have never truly had before. I cannot imagine attending school and not having these amazing people in my life. The professors are extremely supportive and continuously praising us for our drive, determination and willingness to be there for the citizens of El Paso.”

Giving back to the community has been a long-standing priority for the Social Work Club. Since the beginning of the 2019-2020 Academic Year, the club has participated in approximately 25 services activities, including ones at the Child Crisis Center and Opportunity Center.

Club Advisor and Social Work Assistant Professor Chris Salas, and his Co-Advisor, Mrs. Roxanne Parker, love seeing the passion that the students have for volunteering and helping their community.

“The Social Work Club is a highly motivated group that prides itself on the work and assistance it provides to the EPCC and the entire El Paso community. The students find time to juggle work, family, school and still find time to take on multiple activities.”

Arvis Jones, Director of Student Leadership and Campus Life, is proud of the contributions many of the EPCC clubs are making at this time.

“The Social Work Club is doing a great job giving back to the El Paso Community. Their efforts, like those of the Philosophy Club, who has made hundreds of cloth masks for the community and another 300 for EPCC students, are representative of the commitment that many of our EPCC clubs have to helping others during this difficult time.”

Presently, there are 20 active Social Work Club members. The club is open to all EPCC students, not just Social Work Majors.

For those interested in joining, they can contact Club Advisor Christian Salas via email at or by calling 915-831-2469.

Clear masks made by the EPCC Social Work Club  | Photo courtesy EPCC

DMD’s Sixth Annual Downtown Survey seeks public input amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Thursday morning, El Paso Downtown Management District (DMD) officials announced the release of their annual downtown survey. 

“Over the past 12 months, Downtown El Paso has reached some amazing heights, followed by a near complete shutdown, and we’re not out of the woods yet. In order to regain our great momentum and adjust our efforts as we reemerge from the pandemic, we must listen to the public and understand what it’s going to take to bring people back downtown and restart our Downtown economy. Participation in this survey is more important than ever,” said DMD Executive Director Joe Gudenrath.

While this year’s survey will pose many of the standard questions, additional input is being sought regarding the part of the COVID-19 pandemic and the public’s outlook on the future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will surely affect the feedback the DMD receives, but it is necessary to receive a proper gauge of the public’s opinion in order to react in a measured and effective manner in the months to come,” DMD officials shared.

During the month of July, the DMD encourages downtown property owners, business owners, employees, visitors and the general public to take its online survey and share their opinion on the current conditions of Downtown, the performance of the DMD and future priorities for the area.

“In light of recent public health and economic challenges, public input is more crucial than ever,” DMD officials added.

The survey can be accessed by visiting and clicking the survey slider or clicking on the top of the ‘about’ section page.

Participants can register themselves into a drawing for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate/card to a downtown business within the DMD boundaries.

The information gained from this brief, unscientific survey will be used by the DMD to better measure its performance and provide guidance on what is important to its stakeholders and the entire El Paso community.

Past survey results have contributed to the creation of the DMD’s Downtown Ambassador Program, Special Events, and additional grant programs including the Downtown Mural Grant Program.

For those without online access hard copies can be obtained at the DMD offices located at 201 East Main Suite. 107, or by calling (915) 400-2294.

The online survey is available in English and Spanish, and can be accessed at

Chase $5k Donation to help TTUHSC El Paso Students during COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday morning, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso officials announced a $5,000 contribution from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to the university’s Student Frontline Emergency Fund.

“JPMorgan Chase remains committed to helping the El Paso community,” said JPMorgan Chase Market Executive Ruben Hernandez. “TTUHSC El Paso and our future health care heroes are an integral and growing part of the community, and we’re honored to help support them during this time of need and uncertainty.”

The Student Frontline Emergency Fund was created to assist TTUHSC El Paso students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses due to temporary hardship or unforeseen emergencies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund provides needed relief to address the current and future needs of students who are serving in local hospitals during their clinical rotations as the pandemic continues.

Support from the emergency fund ensures students are able to stay on track with their degree program without being derailed by financial hardship.

To date, as many as 200 TTUHSC El Paso students have either requested assistance or are projected to request assistance. The total amount of emergency aid required could reach as much as $500,000, as need is expected to continue in the aftermath of the pandemic.

As a result of the local impact of COVID-19, vulnerable students face financial hardships including reduced income and unexpected expenses. These funds will assist them with basic needs, including rent, groceries, personal items and other essentials.

“Generous donations from community partners like JPMorgan Chase help increase the percentage of students who graduate on time, easing the shortage of health care professionals in the Paso del Norte region, especially during these unprecedented times,” TTUHSC El Paso officials added.

Contributions to the TTUHSC El Paso Student Frontline Emergency Fund can be made via this link.

Local COVID-19 survivors encourage plasma donation

Fear of the unknown can make what seems like an insignificant decision turn into an arduous undertaking. The COVID-19 pandemic has been stress-inducing to the collective consciousness of the world, not only because of fear of infection, but fear of what could come next.

For Alan and Patty Russell, community leaders and local supporters of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, a positive result from an antibody test for COVID-19 supplied assurance rather than fear.

“We were relieved to know that we had the virus,” Patty said. They were fortunate – the Russells contracted what seemed like a terrible case of the flu in February and recovered. It was not the flu, but COVID-19; however, they came out of the experience relatively unscathed.

What came next for the Russells was an unknown experience: the donation of plasma. Recently, Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso urged individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma, which can boost the ability of patients with severe cases to fight the virus.

The Russells had not donated blood or plasma in the past and had many questions.

Would it hurt? Would there be side effects? Would it be a long process?

In a search of answers, the Russells contacted TTUHSC El Paso. Debabrata Mukherjee, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, helped by walking the couple through the process of donating plasma.

This included completing the donor-evaluation physician information after reviewing their antibody test, then answering their questions regarding the importance of donating plasma.

The entire process was completed electronically.

Debabrata Mukherjee, M.D.

“Since there is no proven effective therapy for COVID-19, convalescent plasma may make a difference between survival or mortality in severely ill patients,” Dr. Mukherjee said.

“Convalescent plasma remains in short supply and donations would help to treat more patients admitted to hospitals in our community.”

After help from Dr. Mukherjee, the donation was then processed and administered by Vitalant, one of the blood service providers available to El Pasoans.

“Donating plasma was truly a nonevent. It took about an hour in the chair,” Patty said of her first experience donating. “During the process, they give you your own red blood cells back; it is different than donating blood alone. It did not hurt, and the staff at the Vitalant blood bank were so professional that it was calming. When we left their facility, we virtually had no side effects.”

Patty sees donating plasma as a way to help the communities she and her husband love – El Paso and Ciudad Juárez.

“The use of plasma by researchers is critical. We have personally lost friends to the virus, which brings it closer to home for us,” she said. “If everyone who has recovered from the virus in the El Paso region would donate their plasma, we could maybe save the lives of people in a vulnerable state.  I dream of even being able to help our friends across the border in Juárez.”

  • Currently, Vitalant is seeking convalescent plasma donors to help patients. Eligibility criteria are:
  • Prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test.
  • Complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days.
  • Meet all other current U.S. Food and Drug Administration donor eligibility requirements to donate plasma.

The Russells and Dr. Mukherjee want to encourage local COVID-19 survivors to donate plasma, as it will help others in the region.

“With the help of TTUHSC El Paso in spreading the word, we are certain more people will come forward to donate!” the Russells said.

Those who meet the criteria and want to donate plasma are encouraged to apply through the Vitalant website. For more information, please call 866-CV-PLSMA (866-287-5762).

Patty Russell
Alan Russell

Contact Tracers play vital role during COVID-19 Pandemic

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) has ramped up its efforts to investigate positive COVID-19 cases and determine if others around these patients have been exposed.

At the heart of this effort are contact tracers who work to contact each person who may have been in close proximity to a positive case for an extended timeframe.

“At a glance, contact tracing is a simple process. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 the Public Health Department will reach out to the individual to begin capturing the health status and contact history,” said Health Program Manager Sara Cera. “We ask individuals a series of questions to help us identify others who might be at risk and also to help us determine next steps. The department will continue working to monitor individuals twice a day for 14 days to track the person’s health and also determine how the virus progresses.”

The COVID-19 epidemiology team has been significantly augmented with health department staff, nurses, educators, food inspectors, members of the El Paso Fire Department, and students from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Foster School of Medicine.

The team is serving a critical role in the battle against this virus. They are working staggered shifts 7 days a week to meet the community’s needs.

Contact tracing revolves around clarifying the connections between infected individuals in order to identify the source, isolate and test those at risk, and slow down the transmission of a disease. In the case of illnesses for which there is no vaccine, such as COVID-19, contact tracing represents the ultimate weapon in the public health pandemic arsenal.

Contact tracers work with patients to educate them on the importance of practicing self-isolation and wearing a face covering, which are critical education measures, especially for residents who are waiting for test results or are asymptomatic.

“Our contact tracers are highly trained in pursuing the origin of an infection down to the very last detail,” Cera said. “We’re very proud of our team and the hard work and dedication they display each and every day in the fight against this pandemic.”

In addition to cooperating with these “disease detectives” when they call, residents are also asked to keep track of any signs and symptoms so that if you are ever contacted as a potential exposure, you can provide quality data to those investigating.

For more information about COVID-19, visit

The 21-COVID hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6).

Baylor College of Medicine recruiting participants for COVID-19 impact study

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our daily lives, often increasing stress and anxiety and putting added pressure on relationships.

Population scientists at Baylor College of Medicine are recruiting people across the U.S. to share their experiences and how the pandemic is impacting their health and well-being in an online survey.

“COVID-19 has caused major disruptions in all aspects of American life. It is important to understand how these disruptions are affecting people’s health and well-being to inform public health messaging and mobilization of community support to help individuals and families cope,” said Dr. Hoda Badr, principal investigator of the study and associate professor of medicine – epidemiology and population sciences at Baylor.

Participants will be asked to complete a one-time online survey to answer questions about how the pandemic is affecting daily life, health behaviors, emotional well-being and family relationships. The survey also asks about coping behaviors and desires for support and information.

Because this is a national survey, Badr and her team hope to examine whether the psychosocial impacts of the pandemic differ for certain subgroups based on demographics (e.g., race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status), geography (e.g., rural versus urban locations, states with stay at home orders versus those that do not), health history and caregiving responsibilities.

Data collected from this study will guide healthcare providers so they can better assist individuals and families to cope with the impacts of the pandemic.

The results also could identify health disparities and inform policy discussions about how best to support vulnerable individuals and families.

Participants must be 18 years or older. All survey submissions are confidential. For questions regarding the study, contact

Superior HealthPlan donates funds, 450 Disaster Kits to YWCA El Paso

In response to COVID-19, Superior HealthPlan  administrators announced a financial donation, as well as 450 disaster kits to YWCA El Paso del Norte Region (YWCA).

“As a result of school closures due to COVID-19, there is an even greater need to provide childcare for thousands of people across the El Paso area,” said Mark Sanders, President and CEO of Superior. “YWCA El Paso is helping to fill that gap by not only remaining open, but expanding the number of children they can serve. That’s why we’re proud to offer them our support during this time of need.”

The donations will support the organization’s efforts to provide quality childcare services to essential workers, including first responders, doctors, nurses and others who must continue to work during this time.

“Our fellow El Pasoans are working hard to keep our city operational, healthy and safe, and our goal is to support them by providing childcare to those who need it,” said Sylvia Acosta, Ph.D., CEO of YWCA. “We are so grateful to have the support of Superior HealthPlan and for the resources they have provided to make our work possible.”

Childcare services from YWCA provide educational programming for children across four El Paso locations. In addition, tutors will be available on site during this time to assist with any distance learning assignments for school-aged children.

Superior first opened its doors in 1999 in El Paso. Today, the organization serves more than 54,000 members in the El Paso area and more than 1.3 million statewide. Superior also has more than 400 employees in the region, helping to support healthcare initiatives throughout Texas.

YWCA El Paso was one of three YWCAs across the country to receive contributions and disaster kits from the Centene Corporation.

TFCU donates $10k to support community during COVID-19 Pandemic

To support the El Paso community during the COVID-19 crisis, Teachers Federal Credit Union (TFCU) has donated funds to the El Paso Community Foundation to support their two impactful initiatives.

“Part of TFCU’s mission is to stimulate personal enrichment and community economic development, therefore, to support the El Paso community we decided to make this donation,” TFCU officials shared.

Donations were made to the El Paso County Medical Society COVID-19 Masks and PPE Fund, as well as Get Shift Done For El Paso.

Currently, outpatient physicians in the Sun City are experiencing a massive shortage in N95 respirator masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such, as gloves, goggles, face shields, and hazmat suits. This protective gear is essential for our health heroes to safely and effectively see, test, diagnose and treat patients.

TFCU has donated a total of $5,000 to help source and purchase this equipment for the El Paso Medical Heroes that are on the front lines during this pandemic.

The El Paso Community Foundation will match donations dollar for dollar to the El Paso County Medical Society COVID-19 Masks and PPE Fund to get these supplies to our outpatient physicians and other healthcare providers in the El Paso County.

The California-based technology platform Shiftsmart and the El Paso Community Foundation have launched a program to hire displaced service industry workers. Through this program, displaced workers can pick up shifts at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger local food bank by working shifts that pay up to $10 an hour.

Since social distancing measures have taken place, the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger food bank has been experiencing a shortage of help, and needs volunteers and donations.  The goal is to provide 40 shifts daily. The program hopes to grow from there, depending on the availability of donations.

TFCU donated a total of $5,000 which will result in 500 hours of work for local service industry workers that have lost their jobs during this pandemic.

TFCU encourages the community to join in our efforts and continue to keep the El Paso Strong spirit alive during these trying times by supporting these two great initiatives.

Residents wishing to help can visit for more information on where to donate or how to volunteer.

Foster School of Medicine Students contribute to COVID-19 Compassionate Care Fund

Being in the health care profession means caring about others. Students at the Foster School of Medicine aren’t waiting until they become doctors to put that caring into motion.

The student body of the medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso is donating $1,268 to the University Medical Center Foundation of El Paso’s COVID-19 Compassionate Care Fund.

The fund was created in partnership with the El Paso Children’s Foundation to help University Medical Center of El Paso and El Paso Children’s Hospital patients and their families, as well as health care workers, with basic and urgent needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A few weeks ago, the class of 2023 started brainstorming ways to show appreciation for the hospital staff during the pandemic,” said Hani Michael Annabi, Medical Student Council President and member of the class of 2023. “Initially, the idea started as a food and coffee donation to the emergency department staff.”

Because of the challenges and potential safety risks associated with delivering food to the hospital, the students reconsidered their original idea.

When Annabi heard about the COVID-19 Compassionate Care Fund, he reached out to his 2023 classmates via email, Facebook and group messages to encourage donations to help health care workers, patients and families affected by the pandemic.

“I was overwhelmed by the generosity my class showed in a mere 24 hours, so I decided to email the entire Foster School of Medicine student body to ask for even more help,” said Annabi, who grew up in El Paso. “Donations ranged from $5 to $200. I was blown away with these donations, considering many students don’t have any current form of income.”

Meanwhile, their medical education continues. In the new era of social distancing, students at the Foster School of Medicine have switched to remote online learning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has eerily illustrated the reality of our future careers in health care,” Annabi said. “We pursued a career in medicine to serve people in their most dire moments. Although we can’t physically serve on the front lines yet, we still want to positively impact those in need – patients and health care workers alike. These tumultuous times have underscored what it truly means to be a doctor.

Analysis: Texas has scant data about the pandemic, leaving a lot of questions

If you’re skeptical or curious about this pandemic, how is what you’re hearing from the official Texas sources supposed to be reassuring?

The information Texans are working with is too damn thin.

Where to start? Not enough tests have been completed, or taken, to really know who has or doesn’t have the disease, where the Texas hotspots are, or whether people who have died of respiratory problems had COVID-19. The relatively small number of test results also means we don’t know which people had the disease and recovered (and how many people have recovered) and whether the projections being made with that skimpy data are accurate enough to guide our public health decisions.

It’s not enough to say that the testing is getting better, that we know more than we knew just a few days ago. What we still don’t know overshadows what we do know.

We’re like pilots flying in clouds without instruments. We know a little bit, but not enough to make really solid decisions or to figure out what’s next. We’re learning as we go. As of Thursday, Texas was reporting 10,230 cases and 199 deaths, 1,439 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and 106,134 tests conducted.

Given the level of testing right now, it’s hard to know how many cases Texas really has. Because the best way to get tested for the new coronavirus is to show symptoms that a medical professional finds troublesome, it’s probably safe to say we’re not testing many people who are carrying the virus but don’t have symptoms.

It’s easier — because it’s more obvious — to map the institutional cases. When someone in a nursing home or a state supported living center or a prison tests positive, testing everyone in that location is simple and smart. It’s simple to figure out that everyone in a given building or campus might have been exposed.

Even that data isn’t always available. The state of Texas initially wasn’t sharing details about the data it has collected from nursing homes where COVID-19 cases have been found. But a few days after The Texas Tribune’s Edgar Walters and Carla Astudillo wrote about it, the state revealed 13% of nursing homes have at least one confirmed case.

Tracking cases is harder to do out in the world, particularly without robust and widespread testing. Unconfined Texans, even with stay-at-home directives, might not be in close contact like the residents and staff of a nursing home, but they are hardly in isolation.

Plenty of people have jobs that can’t be done from home. They have to go out into the world every day to earn their livings.

Some are still worshipping in person with fellow congregants, an activity expressly allowed in the governor’s stay-home proclamation. That has proved to be an effective way to spread the disease.

Lots of us are doing essential shopping for groceries and other provisions — excursions that put us back, in a limited way, into the very social streams we’re all trying to avoid.

The list of things we don’t know is a long one. You would expect that with a new disease. But you might also expect the public officials trying to lead us through this to gather all of the information possible, the better to solve the riddles of this new virus ravaging the world, the country and the state.

Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department has said the disease disproportionately affects African Americans, but that city hasn’t released a demographic breakdown of cases. And it’s impossible to know whether that’s true in Houston or elsewhere in the state because of gaps in the data collected by the state. Or whether it’s also true for Hispanics in Texas.

At the beginning of the week, the Texas Department of State Health Services had compiled data on race and ethnicity for less than a quarter of the confirmed cases.

If you don’t collect it, you can’t use it as you decide the best policy responses to the disease.

Texas, like every state, is trying to flatten the curve. But when it comes to data about the disease, the state appears to be behind the curve.

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.

WIC Program to close 4 centers, 9 others to continue serving clients during COVID-19 Pandemic

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program will close four (4) and keep nine (9) WIC Centers open, and modify service to a curbside system in order to limit direct contact, and practice social distancing while expediting services.

WIC provides supplemental foods, breastfeeding support and social service referrals to women and children under 5 years of age.

“It was a difficult decision to close some of our doors, but it was unavoidable,” said Angela Mora, Interim Assistant Public Health Director. “We want those members of our community who may be adversely affected by the Stay Home, Work Safe orders to know that we are still here and more than willing to accept new applications for services.”

The Henderson, Canutillo, Montana Vista and San Elizario WIC centers will be closed due to low participation; however, services will be delivered at one of the other centers.

Anyone affected by the closing of the four centers will be directed to visit one of the following locations that will remain open:

Lee Trevino Center, 1840 Lee Trevino

Ysleta Center, 110 Candelaria

Sunrise Center, 8500 Dyer #54

North Loop Center, 8010 N. Loop

Pershing Center, 3707 Pershing

Fort Bliss Center, Building 51 Slater

Americas Center, 10039 North Loop

Westside Center, 5195 Mace

George Dieter Center, 1757 George Dieter #109-111

WIC staff will contact participants to schedule appointments to provide curbside service. Documentation required such as income, residency and personal ID will be requested electronically when possible.

Those without internet access can still bring their documentation, which will then be reviewed in person. Applicants/participants that require a full nutrition assessment will be advised if the process can be waived and/or collected during the initial phone call.

WIC will inform participants via text message that due to COVID-19, participation processes have changed. WIC staff will call them before their upcoming appointment and will work to process as much as possible before the applicant/participant arrives at the clinic.

“Once they arrive at the clinic, they come to the door and provide us with their cell phone number and Electronic Benefit Card (EBT card.) We communicate with them via two-way texting and if additional information is needed or when benefits have been loaded, the participant will to return to the clinic door to pick up their EBT Card,” said Bertha Amaya, WIC Patient Services Coordinator.

If participants do not have phone access, transportation or encounter other challenges, they will be informed that their food benefits can be mailed to them after their current address is confirmed. Additional information can be provided by calling the Customer Service Center at (915) 212-4942, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about WIC Services, visit or

TTUHSC El Paso offers tips for handling stress, anxiety and depression during COVID-19 Pandemic

As day-to-day life during the COVID-19 pandemic can feel overwhelming and cause stress, fear, and anxiety in adults and children, Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso licensed professional counselors provide the following tips for helping to reduce stress during these uncertain times.

“Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations; how a person responds to the outbreak can depend on their background, their personality and the community they live in,” TTP El Paso officials shared via an emailed news release.

“One way to manage stress and anxiety is by changing your mindset. Instead of saying, “I am doomed,” say, “This is temporary, and it too shall pass.”

For example:

I am stuck at home. instead say -> I get to be SAFE in my home and spend time with my family.


I will get sick. instead say -> I will self-isolate and wash my hands; this will significantly decrease my chances of getting sick.


I will run out of items at home during self-isolation. instead say -> I have prepared for this, and I will use my items wisely. I have everything I need for now. I can always order curbside delivery—many businesses now deliver for free.


Everything is shutting down! I am panicking. instead say -> The most important places, such as hospitals, pharmacies and grocery stores, remain open. I can always call 911 in case of an emergency.


There is too much uncertainty right now. instead say -> While I cannot control the situation around me, I can control my actions. Doing breathing exercises, calling my loved ones and friends, getting enough sleep and proper nutrition, prayer, and doing activities I love at home (reading, playing board games, writing in your journal) will all help during this time.

Managing your emotions

Staying at home in close quarters for an extended period time with a significant other, children, family members or roommates can cause frayed nerves and lost tempers. TTP El Paso mental health professionals recommend:

  • Walking away from heated discussions and not allowing frustration to turn into aggravation or anger (go to your bedroom, bathroom or outside).
  • Going for a walk in the morning, afternoon and evening. Exercise helps reduce stress.
  • Google or YouTube at-home exercises you can do with your family or alone.
  • Reading something interesting. There are plenty of free books online.
  • Watching a movie that you like. Comedy will help you decompress, and laughter reduces stress.
  • Reaching out to friends with a phone call or video chat.
  • Finding an online mental health therapist. Many therapists offer telehealth consultations and hold sessions via video.

Motivation and self-care

There may be a temptation to stay in bed all day, but that could do more harm than good. Force yourself to get up, shower, get dressed and move around, all the while reminding yourself that this is temporary and nothing in life is permanent. Everything has a beginning and an end.

Self-care and keeping busy are two ways to manage stress and anxiety, along with:

  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Staying positive.
  • Playing with your dog, cat or other pets.
  • Fixing things around your house.
  • Organizing your closet and putting things aside for donations in the future.
  • Rearranging your furniture.
  • Cleaning your house.
  • Trying new cooking recipes you find on the internet.

Keep a schedule

Keeping a schedule can not only help reduce stress levels but also help everyone to get along better, and provide a feeling of being more in control during uncertain times. The schedule should include:

  • Physical activity.
  • Family/social time.
  • Chores.
  • Some alone time.

When to wake up and when to go to bed should be included in the schedule as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner at regular meal times.

Examples of physical activity that can be done while social distancing include, walking, hiking, cycling, jumping rope, watching free yoga videos online or trying a free dance class online.

Examples of family/social time include, playing board games, playing cards, watching movies and using apps with videoconference to keep in touch. Several companies and attractions have provided ways to stay entertained with things like Netflix Party, which allows you to watch movies remotely with friends, and free, virtual tours of famous museums. You can also listen and watch free concerts online.

Examples of chores that can be done while staying home include basic and deep cleaning, laundry, cooking, gardening, cleaning out closets and separating items for donation, organizing the garage, etc.

Finally, a few examples of some needed alone time include:

  • Taking a bubble bath or a warm shower.
  • Taking a walk.
  • Journaling.
  • Reading.
  • Coloring.
  • Baking.
  • Going outside to meditate (you can also use an app like Headspace).
  • Listening to music.
  • Watching your favorite TV shows.
  • Self-care.
  • Taking time to remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for.

Relax your mind with meditation

Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Several studies have been conducted on how meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders and pain. A number of studies also have helped researchers learn how meditation might work and how it affects the brain. Click here to learn eight things to know about meditation for health.

Enjoy the outdoors and stay active

The second edition of the Physical Guidelines for Americans, published by Health and Human Services in 2019, states that any amount of physical activity can have health benefits, including doing active chores around the house, yard work or walking the dog. Hiking and walking around a nearby park or around your neighborhood are some examples of outdoor activities.

The American Heart Association generally recommends a target heart rate of moderate exercise intensity should be 50% to about 70% of your maximum heart rate, while vigorous exercise intensity should be 70% to about 85% of your maximum heart rate.

New evidence in the Physical Guidelines for Americans supports that physical activity:

  • Can have immediate benefits: A single episode of physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.
  • Helps manage even more health conditions: Physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis, reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Helps prevent even more chronic conditions: Physical activity has long-term benefits, such as improved brain health, reduced risk of eight types of cancer, reduced risk for fall-related injuries in older adults and reduced risk of excessive weight gain. These benefits are in addition to the other long-term benefits — like preventing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancer — that have been well-known since the first edition was published.

The guidelines recommend that:

  • Adults need at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (five hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, plus muscle strengthening activities on two days each week to attain the most health benefits from physical activity.
  • Youth ages 6 through 17 need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day to attain the most health benefits from physical activity.

Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (five hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

If you plan on exercising at a park, the City of El Paso’s Parks and Recreation Department urges residents not to use playground equipment or workout stations if they visit city parks during the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order.

In addition, the El Paso Department of Public Health urges parents to keep children away from playground equipment because the virus can live on surfaces for hours, even days.

All Parks and Recreation facilities remain closed until further notice as a precautionary response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parks and trails remain open to the public with some recommendations that include:

  • Maintaining at least six feet of social distance from others.
  • Choose less-populated parks and trails.
  • Do not park in a crowded parking lot or use a crowded trail.
  • Wash hands before and after each visit.

“Fresh air and exercise are an important part of maintaining wellness during this unprecedented period in which we work to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 in our community,” said El Paso Parks and Recreation Department Interim Director Ben Fyffe. “Families are urged to use caution, avoid playgrounds and exercise equipment while still enjoying access to El Paso’s parks.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you are in crisis, call the national crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor or local crisis line at 915-779-1800. They provide services over the phone.

For more information on managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit the CDC’s Stress and Coping page visit the CDC’s Stress and Coping page

NMSU Facilities and Services crews work to safeguard the health of campus community

In the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the most important thing most of us can do is to stay home, follow guidance on social distancing and hand-washing, and wait for the worst of the outbreak to subside. But for many essential members of the workforce, this is the time when their expertise and hard work are most needed, and it’s not work they can accomplish from the safety of a home office.

The 120-person crew of New Mexico State University’s Office of Facilities and Services has been working hard – even before most non-essential campus workers and many students throughout the NMSU system were directed to work and learn online for the duration of the crisis – to ensure that campus is a safe, healthy environment when they return.

“With the COVID-19 outbreak, our department is responsible for sanitizing and disinfecting all of our spaces here at New Mexico State University,” said Art Lucero, custodial, solid waste and recycling manager for Facilities and Services.

NMSU’s Las Cruces campus has 136 buildings, totaling about 5,000,000 square feet of space that must be carefully disinfected and then closed off until employees and students are able to safely return. In coordination with deans, department heads, researchers and staff, cleaning teams are working to sanitize entire buildings at a time.

“We’re going through each building, all the classrooms, the computer labs – restrooms, naturally,” he said. “You name it, we’re disinfecting it.”

Facilities and Services crew members have two processes for disinfecting buildings – a manual process in which they apply disinfectant

Once New Mexico State University Facilities and Services crews are finished with the disinfection process for each room on campus, they apply dated labels across the doorframe to indicated that the room or building is sanitized and closed. (NMSU photo by Justin Bannister)

and leave it in place for 10 minutes before wiping it off, and an EMist system that mists electrostatically charged disinfectant onto surfaces.

“So that means when the droplet hits a surface, it actually wraps around it, similar to powder-coating,” Lucero explained.

The EMist system allows a small, rotating crew of facilities staff to apply hospital-grade disinfectant on up to 54,000 square feet per hour. Once they’re finished with the disinfection process for each room, the crew applies dated labels across the doorframe to indicated that the room or building is sanitized and closed.

“When you walk up to the door, you’ll see that the building has been disinfected,” Lucero said.

Throughout the process, the workers are careful to protect their own health by wearing personal protective equipment, practicing social distancing and staggering their schedules to minimize human contact. Six different two-person teams rotate through shifts on alternate days, and begin the process each day at 4 a.m.

“Every day, I’m hearing about how members of our university community across the entire NMSU system are doing incredible, heroic work,” said NMSU system Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “These Facilities and Services workers are on the front lines of NMSU’s fight to minimize the impact of this virus on our Aggie community, and I’m truly grateful for their dedication.”

Lucero said each person on his team is aware of the seriousness and importance of this work.

“Our saying here in our in our world is, ‘We clean for health as well as appearance,'” Lucero said. “We care deeply about human health, and what we’re doing here is actually protecting all of us and keeping us safe and healthy.”

For the latest updates on the NMSU system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Authors: Amanda Bradford and Justin Bannister – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

El Paso Community Foundation: Ways to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 virus proliferates around the world, it is likely that we will see it here in our Borderplex Region very soon.

Local, state and federal health officials will guide us through the largest part of it, and we urge you to practice good public hygiene, as outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here is a world view of the proliferation of the virus.

In the wake of a lot of panic surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the El Paso Community Foundation reached out to many area nonprofit organizations who are dealing with the social and economic effects of the emergency: from hunger and nutrition to care for the elderly, childcare, etc.

We are happy to connect you to some of them— click here to email us — for contact information. The El Paso Community Foundation encourages you to donate to these and other organizations.

If you would like to donate to help people around the country through the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, click here.

On a personal note, I was raised in newsrooms at KVIA and KTSM TV here in El Paso. It was a grind of daily crisis management, and we were witness to a lot of personal tragedy.

A mentor in broadcast journalism once told me, “To find the real story, sometimes you have to turn your back on the fire, and look around.”

Now is an important time to look around to help those who may be affected more than you, to stock up on the things you need, and to support our community of direct service providers.

The Foundation’s best course of action is to assist you. I am available by phone or email, and Foundation staff can provide you with further information. We are not going to ask you for money.

Our role — here and now — is to stay focused on our community.

Eric Pearson
President / CEO El Paso Community Foundation

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