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Home | Tag Archives: COVID-19

Tag Archives: COVID-19

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

Five UTEP Student-Athletes test positive for COVID-19

UTEP Athletics officials announced Saturday afternoon that five of their student-athletes had tested positive  for COVID-19.

Via a news release, athletic officials shared:

“At the beginning of July, five UTEP student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 and will self-quarantine for 14 days. Following the positive tests, UTEP Athletics facilities were immediately closed for extensive cleaning.  Out of an overabundance of caution, all UTEP Athletics facilities will be closed to student-athletes until Thursday, July 16, when voluntary workouts will resume. This delay in reopening will provide us with more time separation after the fourth of July holiday and allow for the maximum number of student-athletes to resume voluntary workouts.  Student-athletes will continue to be tested, and cleared, before using Athletics facilities.”

University officials said that during the last month, approximately 60 student-athletes have been participating in voluntary workouts on the UTEP campus to prepare for the 2020-21 athletics season.

Multiple precautions have been taken by the Athletics Administration, Sports Medicine personnel, and Strength and Conditioning team to protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and the staff members who come in contact with them.

“For example, we designated one entrance and one exit in each facility; required all student-athletes to check in prior to entering the facility, during which time their temperature was checked and they responded to recommended medical questions; limited use of the elevators to staff members only with maximum occupancy of one person; made access to the training room and coaches offices by appointment only to limit the number of people in each area; restricted the number of people in the locker room at a time; and limited workout groups to a maximum of 15 people,” UTEP officials stated.

According to the statement, student-athletes are required to wear face masks in the athletic facilities. Workout equipment and lockers are sanitized after each use by the student-athletes and staff members.

All the student-athletes were tested for COVID-19 prior to gaining access to Athletics facilities and all submitted an initial negative test result.

“In addition, all student-athletes and staff have been directed to stay home when they are sick, maintain social distance and wash their hands regularly,” officials added.

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: 

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  |

Surge in COVID-19 cases forces city to postpone reopening El Paso Zoo, Museums, Libraries and more

On Sunday, officials with the City of El Paso announced the decision to postpone the reopening of Quality of Life facilities and services as a precaution for the health and safety of our community and the City’s workforce, due to the surge in COVID-19 infections.

“The health, safety and well-being of our community and the City’s workforce remains top priority,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “With recent data showing a rise COVID-19 cases, with spikes of more than 200 new cases on two occasions in the last few days, reopening these services would not be responsible at this time.”

The triple-digit spikes in COVID-19 cases announced by the Department of Public Health over the last several days has forced the City to postpone the reopening of services that include the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens, City museums, recreation centers, spray parks and library branches.

The City had scheduled to reopen the facilities on July 1 but has decided to keep them closed.

According to the city’s news release on Sunday, officials will continue to work closely with the Department of Public Health to determine when Quality of Life Services can safely reopen to the community.

“Now more than ever, public health experts urge everyone to stay home as much as possible, practice good hand hygiene and if you must be out in public, practice social distancing and wear a face covering,” city officials added.

For more information about the City of El Paso’s COVID-19 containment efforts, visit www.epstrong.org.

Video+Gallery+Story: TTUHSC El Paso, UTEP develop ‘Texas Breather,’ low cost, 3D-printed ventilator for hospitals

Nationwide, hospitals are concerned about a possible shortage of ventilators as more Americans require treatment for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease that can cause life-threatening respiratory problems such as pneumonia.

A collaboration between Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso could help solve the problem. Using 3D printing, the team of physicians and engineers have developed an innovative, low-cost ventilator for the health care sector.

Scott Crawford, M.D., associate professor and director of TTUHSC El Paso’s Training and Educational Center for Healthcare Simulation (TECHS), is helping lead the initiative to manufacture the shoebox-sized devices, dubbed the Texas Power Bag Breather, or Texas Breather.

“This low-cost ventilator would be used if existing mechanical ventilators were not available in any setting requiring assisted breathing,” Dr. Crawford said. “While there’s a particular need in third-world and developing nations, if an industrialized nation became overwhelmed, it could help in those regions as well.”

The Texas Breather design was developed by Dr. Crawford; retired TTUHSC El Paso faculty member Robert Stump, M.D., Ph.D.; and Luis Ochoa, a manager at the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation in UTEP’s College of Engineering. After two weeks of prototyping six iterations of the device, Ochoa requested support from UTEP Keck Center Director Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., to put the full resources of the center behind the project.

“Dr. Crawford, Dr. Stump and Luis converged on a simple, yet elegant and innovative concept that capitalized on the strengths of additive manufacturing,” Wicker said. “Recognizing the need and the potential clinical advantages of the design, this was a perfect application of the Keck Center’s rapid-response engineering capabilities. More than a dozen individuals, including faculty, staff and students, immediately focused 100% effort on getting the design finalized for reliability testing. We combined simulation, design interaction, and rapid prototyping and testing to respond in a pandemic timescale. I am very proud of Luis and the entire Keck team for how quickly we came together to try and make a difference during this pandemic.”

The team has requested an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow health care workers to use the Texas Breather during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospital ventilators can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but Dr. Crawford believes the Texas Breather can be made using currently available 3D technology for less than $1,000 per unit, thanks to the design’s simplicity. He said each device would take about eight hours to produce.

The main cost-and-time saving innovation of the Texas Breather involves the incorporation of relatively inexpensive bag-valve mask devices that are available in large quantities at hospitals. First responders and emergency health care teams use bag-valve masks to manually provide ventilation to patients who are not breathing or are having trouble breathing.

Close collaboration between the TTUHSC El Paso board-certified emergency physicians and their teams, and the faculty, engineers and students in the Keck Center at UTEP was key to rapidly refining the design of the Texas Breather. The device mounts to an IV pole at the patient’s bedside and provides an adjustable airflow volume and respiratory rate. All mechanical components are fabricated with production-grade material and have successfully passed simulated-use and worst-case scenario testing.

The team used advanced respiratory simulation tools in the TECHS center to test and calibrate the device. These tools, used by TTUHSC El Paso students to study respiratory physiology, played an important part in validating the safety and functionality of the Texas Breather.

“Being able to accurately record the pressure, volume and airflow of the Texas Breather was a key element for pursuing emergency use authorization from the FDA. We’re fortunate to have access to these specialty simulation tools at TECHS,” Dr. Crawford said.

UTEP used a Stratasys 3D printer to produce parts to assemble the Texas Breather devices. Dr. Crawford said the team has produced working prototypes, and with additional funding, large-scale production using 3D printing could produce hundreds per week.

Ochoa, who has been working with Stratasys equipment for nearly two decades, translated the doctors’ design concepts into reality. The team used computer simulation to refine the design, which reduced the number of design-build-test cycles and shortened the development process by weeks. This expertise in UTEP’s Keck Center in close collaboration with the TTUHSC El Paso doctors was the key to success.

Key industry partners of the Keck Center also contributed to the development of the Texas Breather. Medical device professionals from Bessel LLC helped prepare for FDA submission, simulation software maker Ansys Inc. assisted UTEP engineers with extensive simulations, and Stratasys Inc. donated prototypes and materials for fabrication.

Stormy Monks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Foster School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso, and Jesica Urbina, Ph.D., TECHS senior research associate, are working to secure grants to support production of the Texas Breather. Victor Torres, TECHS innovation engineer, and Joel Libove, Ph.D., are assisting in the final design of electrical controls for the ventilator.

“We have the goal of sharing our invention for general use but are pursuing grant funding for manufacturing on a large scale,” Dr. Crawford said. “We would like to produce 1,000 to 2,000 units to assist with the projected deficit of ventilators in American hospitals.”

Video: COVID-19 survivor heads home after 63 days of hospitalization, rehab

68-year-old Roberto Mata finally headed home to his loving family after 63 total days in the hospital and inpatient rehabilitation after beating COVID-19.

Mata was released from The Hospitals of Providence Memorial Campus on May 27 after spending 47 days in the hospital after a long battle with COVID-19.

The last 16 days he has spent at The Hospitals of Providence Sierra Campus Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit, working closely with a comprehensive team of therapists to regain his strength and mobility.

Friday, Mata was recognized by his team of therapists and healthcare providers with a CODE Celebrate, commemorating his graduation from inpatient rehabilitation.

As part of the celebration, therapists joined and sang “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.”

Mata heads home to his loving wife of 49 years and his family and looks forward to spending time with them and catching up on the many things he loves.

United Way asks families across Texas to complete survey to assess economic impact of COVID-19

Austin – United Ways across Texas and the state organization, United Ways of Texas, are launching a statewide survey today to assess the economic impact the COVID19 crisis has had on Texas families.

“Every Texas family has felt the impact of COVID19 and even though much of our state has re-opened, life remains uncertain,” said Adrianna Cuellar Rojas, United Ways of Texas President and CEO. “This survey represents an opportunity to better understand the impact that COVID19 has had on Texans, to help inform state and community leaders in how best to support Texans in need.”

Before the pandemic hit, more than one in four Texas households were already struggling, led by workers that were unable to earn enough to cover the basics or to save for an unexpected life crisis or loss of a job.

“On a daily basis, United Ways across our state are focused on helping Texans thrive. With COVID19, the needs of Texas families, many who were already struggling prior to the pandemic, have been amplified, with disruptions in workforce, childcare, school and overall life,” said Cuellar Rojas. “The information gathered from this survey will help inform United Ways and others as we work to respond to both the immediate needs of Texans, and as we look forward to the next phase of recovery and what will be needed most to help get families back on track.”

For many Texans, the economic crisis has stripped away family assets and abruptly repositioned families into unfamiliar financial positions.

“H-E-B is committed, now more than ever, to supporting Texans. As a long-time, proud partner and supporter of communities, H-E-B recognizes the importance of seeking out a deeper understanding of the challenges ahead for Texas families across our state. H-E-B and United Way proudly support and encourage Texans Helping Texans,” said Bea Lopez, H-E-B Unit Director and United Ways of Texas Board Chair.

The survey seeks information on a wide range of topics, including the most pressing concerns, job changes, childcare challenges and economic changes that Texas families are navigating.

“If you’ve felt the economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic, please take the time to complete the 10-minute survey,” Cuellar Rojas said. “United Way wants to listen and learn so we can know how best to help those Texans who have been hardest hit by COVID-19.”

All Texas families are invited to complete the United Way Texas COVID19 survey via this link. The survey will remain open through June 24. Individual responses are confidential.

El Paso Municipal Court to Reopen with Guidelines to Combat COVID-19

City officials announced Friday that the El Paso Municipal Court will reopen for in-person court proceeding and business transactions starting Monday, June 1 with safety guidelines in place to protect visitors and employees from the spread of COVID-19.

The Municipal Court has created a Safety and Health Plan at all court locations. The Court is allowing only the person who received the citation into facilities. A legal guardian or caregiver can accompany juveniles and persons with disabilities.

 Upon entry, security guards will administer temperature checks and ask visitors questions about COVID-19 symptoms.

Social distancing guidelines will be observed and visitors will be required to wear face coverings/masks, use hand sanitizer stations, and follow the six-foot social distancing guidelines out of respect to the staff and other visitors.

The Court has marked court facilities with social distancing signs and markings. Inside courtrooms, markings have been added for people to sit six-feet apart and hand sanitizers are available for use.

Court Notices

The Court has mailed court dates and location of appearance notices with instructions on requesting attendance remotely. Residents who were scheduled to appear at 9600 Dyer between March 23, and May 30, and did not receive a new court date by September 30, are encouraged to check the status of their case by contacting the court.

Residents who are scheduled for court at 9600 Dyer may appear to use video capabilities during scheduled Arraignment Hearing at the following locations: 10780-A Pebble Hills and 9011 Escobar.

In addition, the Municipal Court reminds residents that payments can be made online, by phone, by mail or at any drop box at Court locations.

Residents who may have COVID-19 symptoms or are part of the vulnerable population are encouraged to speak with a court representative for alternatives regarding a scheduled hearing.

To view the Safety and Health Plan in place for El Paso Municipal Court or for additional information, click here or call (915) 212-0215.

CBP Officers seize 1,000 counterfeit COVID-19 test kits, other non-compliant items

Since the beginning of the pandemic, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have seen an increase in unapproved, counterfeit, or non-FDA compliant COVID-19 tests, hand sanitizer, facemasks, and mask filters crossing the border.

On May 16, at the Santa Teresa port of entry,  a 36-year-old Mexican male was traveling into Mexico with a suitcase. A CBP officer interviewed him and found “inconsistencies in his story;” so he was referred for an intensive examination.

During an examination of the subject’s suitcase, CBP officers discovered 1,000 counterfeit COVID-19 Rapid Tests. The test kits were seized pending further investigation.

Additionally, on May 17, CBP officers from the Ysleta port of entry stopped a 62-year-old U.S. citizen female with 1,000 facemasks, 2,740 mask filters, and 60 1-liter bottles of hand sanitizer.

Officials say all of the products were found to lack proper registration, labeling, and did not comply with criteria set by the Food and Drug Administration; all of the products were seized.

“Some appear to be exploiting the pandemic for financial gain, leaving the consumer at risk. These products may result in serious consequences to the consumer, whether that end user is in the United States or another country,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha,

“CBP officers are committed to ensuring that all items being imported and exported meet critical health and safety standards.”

Photo courtesy CBP
Photo courtesy CBP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building a family

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fatigue, and then a crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ana and Eddie get worse

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

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

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

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


Relatives have started a GoFundMe campaign for the Gonzalez family here


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was their last conversation.

Hopes for a miracle crushed 

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

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

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

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

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

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

A mother unable to comfort her son 

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19’s aftermath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Robert Moore, El Paso Matters

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

El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from April 22nd thru 30th

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from April 22nd through May 30th.

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***

***UTEP: Remote work will continue May 1 (4/30/2020)

UTEP President Heather Wilson updated university staff of plans during the phased reopening of Texas. Below is her update:

Colleagues,

As you are probably aware, both the State of Texas and City of El Paso stay at home orders expire today, April 30. Starting tomorrow, a phased reopening of businesses and services will begin.

Other than essential employees, all UTEP faculty and staff will continue to work remotely for now. UTEP employees should not return to campus on May 1.

The University’s Recovery Plan Task Force, led by Graduate School Dean Stephen Crites, began meeting this week to help us plan to safely reopen the campus. There are many factors to consider, and with students finishing this semester by distance, we have time to get this right.

The health and safety of students, faculty and staff is our top priority, followed closely by our responsibility to help our students continue their educational progress.

For now, keep working from home. We’ll get information to everyone on how we are going to restart safely.

All the best,

Heather Wilson
President

***

*** Magoffin Home Historic Site Re-Opens (4/30/2020)

The Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Magoffin Home State Historic Site will re-open for visitors on May 1, 2020, offering its regular business hours until further notice.

Visitors must make a reservation by phone. Only household groups are permitted, for 30-minute tour slots. A printed single-use tour information document will be provided and a docent will be available for questions.  At this time, no rentals are available.

The grounds, mansion, and restrooms will be open. The Visitor Center will remain closed at this time.

Visitors to the site are asked to:

  • Limit group visits to no more than 5-person groups who share the same household.
  • Maintain strict social distance (6′) from anyone at the site who is not part of your household.
  • Consider wearing face coverings, which are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“The safety of our visitors and staff is extremely important to us, and so is our passion for Texas history,” said Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the THC. “We are pleased to re-open our sites that tell our state’s story and restore as many amenities and attractions as the current situation safely allows.” For more information pertaining to site specific guidelines, visit the Magoffin Home website.

Follow the Department of State Health Services guidelines to keep fellow Texans healthy and safe and refer to the  THC Public Health page to review all current sites guidelines and updates.

***

*** El Paso Sun City Pride Cancels 14th Annual Pride Festivities (4/30/2020)

Thursday morning, officials with the annual Sun City Pride Festival announced the cancellation of the June event, due to COVID19.  Below is their official statement.

After much consideration, El Paso Sun City Pride will be cancelling all in-person gatherings scheduled for the month of June 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All large scale events such as Pride parades and festivals across the nation are being cancelled and El Paso is no different.
For over a decade, EPSCP has brought thousands of people together to celebrate while raising thousands of dollars in academic scholarships to support our LGBTQ+ community. We are committed to continue this legacy of work as we anticipate the 14th Annual El Paso Sun City Pride Festival in 2021.
No other event in West Texas touches such a varied and large demographic cross-section of residents and visitors, while bringing city-neighbors together to celebrate pride in our community. In the past we have been able to bring a variety of acts to the Sun City including RuPaul’s Dragrace winners, international DJs, singers and many more.
This year, the health and safety of our community is our first priority.
To our beloved West Texas community, we offer our deepest and most sincere apology for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience, loyalty and continued support. We are looking into virtual and in-person events once we can be together again.
We encourage everyone to follow our Facebook page or visit our website for updates, www.suncitypride.org. Until then, raise your Pride flags in celebration and solidarity for our community and for our great City of El Paso as we bring awareneess to the opportunities of our movement.

***

***DPH announces 4 additional COVID19 deaths, total now at 18; Overall positive cases now at 887 (4/29/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting four (4) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 18.

The patients include a male in his 50s, a male in his 60s and a female in her 60s, all of who had underlying health conditions. The fourth patient was a female in her 60s who did not have underlying health conditions.

El Paso is also reporting 30 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 887. To-date 334 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 535 active cases within the county.

Positive cases in El Paso County include 466 females and 421 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 52 patients who are hospitalized, and 27 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We are saddened to report four new deaths due to COVID-19, and our hearts go out to the families of these individuals,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “It is important to remember that we have not reached the peak in El Paso County and it is essential that residents understand the severity of this virus. Even as the state works to reopen, each of us must still take responsibility to slow the spread of the virus and protect our most vulnerable loved ones. Remember, stay home if possible, practice social distancing, wash your hands, wear a face covering and avoid gatherings.”

City and County officials announced yesterday the amendment to the current Local Emergency Directive in response to Governor Abbott’s Executive Orders issued on April 27 calling to reopen the Texas economy. The amended directive will go into effect on Friday, May 1 at 12:01 a.m. and will incrementally start to reopen the economy.

Although the Stay Home, Work Safe Order in El Paso will end on Friday, May 1, Public Health officials urge the public to be responsible; adhere to their recommendations to stay home if possible, and continue to exercise social distancing, proper hygiene, and use face coverings. Social gatherings are strongly discouraged.

People over the age of 65 and other vulnerable populations are strongly encouraged to remain at home and limit contact with persons from outside their immediate household.

The updated Directive is available at www.epstrong.org under “Health Orders.” Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling the police department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400 or 3-1-1.

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

 

 

***

***Cielo Vista, Sunland Park Malls, Outlet Shoppes of El Paso set to reopen (4/29/2020)

Simon Properties, parent company of Cielo Vista Mall, announced Wednesday that they would be reopening the mall starting Friday, May 1st.  The announcement came via a news release regarding Simon’s nationwide properties.

“As we communicated last week, we plan on reopening our properties as quickly and as safely as possible, officials shared on their webpage.  “We expect to open the following 49 properties May 1-May 4 based on current state and/or local stay-at-home or closure orders which are subject to change.”

Simon officials said their properties would follow CDC and social distancing guidelines, and set specific hours – Monday-Saturday: 11AM-7PM, Sunday: Noon-6PM – so that employees would have the opportunity to properly clean and disinfect their stores.

Across town, officials with Sunland Park Mall relayed their intention to open on Monday via an interview with ABC-7.  Officials told the station they would reopen Monday, May 4th.

Their hours of operation will be the same as Cielo Vista’s – 11:00am-7:00pm Monday through Saturday and 12:00pm-6:00pm Sunday.

As for the Outlet Shoppes of El Paso, per a post on their webpage, they will be opening on Friday, May 1st as well; however shoppers were directed to check the hours of each individual store via a link.”

We reached out to officials with the Fountains at Farah, and are awaiting their response.

For up to date information, visit: Cielo Vista Mall  |  Sunland Park Mall  |  Outlet Shoppes of El Paso  | Fountains at Farah

***

*** El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz: Churches will not reopen at this time (4/28/2020)

Bishop Mark Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, announced Tuesday night that the churches within the diocese would not be reopening at this time. Below is his letter to the region’s Catholic faithful.

The Governor of the State of Texas has announced that the Stay at Home order that he set in place some weeks ago will be allowed to expire this Friday. The order superseded local government orders in the city and county of El Paso.

However, the medical experts and our local leaders are telling us that in El Paso the onset of the community spread of the virus started later than the other large urban areas of the state.

At this point we have not yet flattened the curve in our region.

There are other factors of concern to me. The large crowds urban parishes bring together add risk and complexity to protocols that would allow a safe opening. Pastors are also telling me that the availability of sanitizer is an ongoing concern. Shortages make the disinfecting of churches uncertain at this time.

The Church also feels a great responsibility to set an example to the rest of our community. Opening our churches would convey at this point a false sense of security about the risks of public gatherings here in El Paso. Many of our most fervent members are also people in the categories of highest risk, our senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions.

For these reasons the Catholic churches in El Paso will not be opening their doors at this time. Mass will continue to be celebrated daily with only those people needed for the celebration and broadcast of the Mass and that number will always be limited to 10 or less.

Priests will still be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by appointment and for the Last Rites for those who are dying.

Protocols are being finalized for hospital visits under these circumstances. Deacons and priests remain available to provide pastoral counsel and prayer over the phone. I might add that our Catholic Counseling office’s professional therapists continue to offer assistance by phone and in person, all on a sliding scale according to a person’s means.

It is our sincere hope that within weeks the prevalence of the virus in our community will be at such a level that will permit an opening of our churches at least for smaller gatherings and private visits.

In the meantime I would ask all the faithful of the Diocese of El Paso to continue to be united in prayer. Take advantage of the many online offerings for Mass, prayer and ongoing education in your faith.

Please continue to stay connected with us via the MyParish app available for all mobile phone devices. You can download the MyParish app by texting the word app to 88202.

We will look forward with great anticipation to that day when we who are brothers and sisters with the Risen Christ will joyfully come together in His presence to be fed by Him once again.

Bishop Mark J. Seitz, DD
Bishop of El Paso

***

*** El Paso COVID19 cases now at 857; DPH reports total of 14 deaths (4/28/2020)

Mayor Dee Margo announced the total of positive COVID19 patients in the area is now at 857, with an additional 2 deaths for a total of 14.

Margo also announced the changes to the emergency order, enacted as the COVID-19 impact started making inroads here in the area.  The biggest change is that the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order will be lifted by Friday, and the city and county will largely operate under Governor Abbott’s guidelines for reopening the state.

“This is an imperfect balancing act between the public health and the economy,” Mayor Margo stated during the Tuesday evening virtural news conference. “Both are suffering.”

The mayor went on to say that residents were ‘strongly urged’ to stay home, continue to social distance, continue proper sanitary measures and continue the use of face coverings.  He added that all social gatherings were ‘strongly discouraged.’

Below is the official release.  To read the entire order, click here.

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting two (2) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 14. The female patient in her 70s and the male patient in his 50s both had underlying health conditions.

El Paso is also reporting 28 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 857. Positive cases in El Paso County include 454 females and 403 males. There are now 32 patients who are hospitalized, and 19 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“We once again are saddened to report two new deaths due to COVID-19, and our hearts go out to the families of these two individuals,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “The public must understand that each person must take responsibility and take care of each other by staying home if possible, practice social distancing, washing their hands and wearing a face covering.”

City and County officials are in the process of amending the current Local Emergency Directive in response to Governor Abbott’s Executive Orders issued on April 27 calling to re-open the Texas economy. The amended directive will go into effect on Friday, May 1 at 12:01 a.m. and will incrementally start to re-open the economy.

“We will continue to address the public health needs of our community, while abiding by the Governor’s latest Executive Order to re-open Texas,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “This is an imperfect balancing act between our health and our economy. To re-open completely we must abide by social distancing, and stay home as much as possible.”

The amended directive will include:

Stay Home, Work Safe Order Lifted May 1

  • Consistent with state and national recommendations, El Pasoans are strongly urged to stay at home if they can, and continue to exercise social distancing, proper hygiene and use face coverings.

o   Social gatherings continue to be strongly discouraged.

o   People over the age of 65 or considered part of a vulnerable population are strongly encouraged to continue to remain at home and limit contact as much as possible with persons from outside their immediate household.

  • Businesses

o   Essential businesses which have been operating will be allowed to continue to operate with the safety protocols already in place.

o   Retail-to-Go businesses which have been operating will be allowed to continue to operate with the safety protocols already in place.

o   Additional businesses, including restaurants, retail stores, malls and movie theaters, will be allowed to open with certain restrictions:

  • Operate at 25% total listed occupancy only.
  • Operate with the same safety protocols in place for essential businesses and Retail-to-Go businesses.
  • Face coverings are required for all employees while working at essential businesses, Retail-to-Go operations or the newly reopened businesses allowed to operate at 25% capacity.
  • Golf courses and private tennis courts will be open and fishing will be allowed with safety protocols in place.

o   Tennis courts at private facilities may be utilized following the Local Health Authority’s Order or guidance.

  • City of El Paso parks will remain closed except for walking on designated walking paths.

o   Public park playgrounds, tennis courts and basketball courts will remain closed.

o   Playgrounds will remain closed.

  • City of El Paso museums and libraries will remain closed.

Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling 3-1-1.

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

For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

 

***

*** 2nd EPISD Food Services employee tests positive for COVID-19 (4/28/2020)

A second El Paso Independent School District food-services employee who worked at the Logan Elementary meal distribution site has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and is now in quarantine, District officials announced Tuesday.

The employee is asymptomatic and has been in insolation at home since Friday. The employee worked at the Logan site where another staff member also tested positive for the virus last week.

The employees are not reporting to work.

“The EPISD Family is in full support of these our employees who work diligently and selflessly to provide much-needed meals to the children of El Paso during this pandemic,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “We are working with all affected employees who are in self-isolation at this time.”

EPISD closed the Logan meal distribution site last week, and a thorough disinfecting plan for the campus is now in place. The meal distribution site for that area has been moved to Powell Elementary School.

All employees who worked with these staff members have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and will not report to work during that time period.

Out of an abundance of caution, any family who picked up meals at Logan last week are advised to monitor their health, follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines for people have had close contact with infected people, and contact their primary care physician if they develop symptoms.

EPISD will continue to monitor this situation and will provide additional information as needed.

***

***DPH: 829 COVID19 cases in area; No new deaths, tally remains at 12;  City reviews State’s Phased Plan to Reopen Texas (4/27/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 27 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s cumulative number to 829, the number of deaths remains at 12.
To date, 265 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 552 active cases within the county. The cumulative cases in El Paso County include 436 females and 393 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are currently 35 patients who are hospitalized, and 19 of those hospitalized are in ICU.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced his Open Texas plan this afternoon. Abbott, who issued three new executive orders, advised he would reopen businesses in Texas in several phases beginning May 1.
By way of Executive Order GA-18, Abbott said he would allow all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls to open on Friday, May 1. These services must limit their capacity to 25 percent of their total listed occupancy. Salons, gyms, massage parlors, bars and clubs are to remain closed; and their status will be re-evaluated in mid-May.
Libraries and non-interactive museums may open May 1 and operate at 25 percent of their listed occupancy. The City has not yet made a decision on opening its facilities this Friday. Outdoor sports will be allowed, but limited to groups no larger than four, such as golf and tennis.
“We are in the process of reviewing the executive orders issued by Governor Abbott today and how they apply to our community,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “Creating a pathway to rebuild our economy while addressing critical public health needs, and continuing to slow the spread of the virus, is the City’s ultimate goal.”
City officials will evaluate Governor Abbott’s order and move forward with El Paso’s plan with emphasis on the health and wellness of our community. Noting the severity of COVID-19, health officials advise that it is critical El Paso move forward with caution and due diligence.
“It is critically important that we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Governor has begun planning the reopening of Texas, and so we must be thoughtful in our approach as to how we reopen our community per the State’s orders while still taking into account our community’s health,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.
“The first line of defense against COVID-19 is to stay home when you can. If you need to leave your home for essential activities, we ask that you wear a cloth face covering. The public must remember there is no vaccine for this disease; which is why we continue to stress that each person must take responsibility and care for each other.”

***

*** EPCSO Deputy tests positive for COVID19 (4/27/2020)

An El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Deputy has tested positive for COVID-19. The deputy is assigned to a support unit and was not responding to calls for service or conducting patrol stops and functions.

Indications are that the deputy contracted the virus from a family member in their household who had recently tested positive for COVID-19. The deputy is currently observing quarantine guidelines at home.

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, this would include providing personal protective equipment to our personnel.

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.

***

***Gov. Abbott: Statewide stay at home order to expire at end of April; Proposes phases to reopen Texas businesses May 1st  (4/27/2020)

During a Monday afternoon news conference, Governor Greg Abbott said retail businesses, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls can re-open with 25% occupancy as Phase One of his plan this Friday, May 1st.

The governor started by highlighting the strength that Texans had shown, coming together to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and saying that the state was now seeing a “decline in infections…over the past 17 days.”

Abbott introduced the phased reopening of businesses statewide. “We’re not just going to open up and hope for the best,” Abbott said. “Opening Texas must occur in phases.”

“This order allows all these businesses to reopen…it does not require them to do so,” the governor added.

Under the first phase, “vulnerable populations” like seniors should stay home as much as possible, Abbott said.

Abbott added all museums and libraries in the state can reopen under the same 25 percent capacity, but interactive areas with hands on exhibits must remain closed.

The Governor’s order supersedes local orders stating businesses must remain closed, but reopening is optional. Abbott said businesses can stay closed if they wanted to do so.

Also the governor said that – for the time being – he is holding off on reopening certain businesses, including gyms, bars, barbershops and hair salons. Abbott added that “he hopes those businesses can open on or no later than mid-May.”

If the plan’s first phase is successful, the governor said the state would then move to the next phase starting May 18, as long as there is no secondary “flare-up” of COVID-19 cases, Abbott said.

To view the entire news conference, click here.  |  To read the governor’s statement, click here.

***

*** EPISD Community Schools food pantry opens Tuesday at Guillen Middle School (4/27/2020)

EPISD’s Community Schools resumes its mobile food bank on Tuesday at Guillen Middle School, providing much needed meals to families needing support during the pandemic.  

“The mobile food pantry is available to the entire community and will be a tremendous support to our most vulnerable families during these challenging times due to the COVID-19 virus,” said Simon Chandler, EPISD Community Schools coordinator. “During the school closures, we had had to suspend the campus-based food pantries. Fortunately thanks to the amazing work of El Pasoans Fighting Hunger, we are able to host a weekly mobile food pantry at Guillen Middle School.”

EPISD Community Schools staff and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers will be distributing canned goods, dried foods and fresh food from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays throughout the school closure for up to 500 families beginning tomorrow.

The distribution site is at Guillen Middle, 900 South Cotton Street

EPISD Community Schools had been operating once a month, school-based food pantries for the several years with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.

***

***El Paso area now at 802 COVID19 Cases, No additional deaths reported on Sunday (4/26/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 22 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s cumulative number to 802, the number of deaths remains at 12.
To-date 185 people have recovered from COVID-19; consequently, there are 617 active cases within the county. The cumulative cases in El Paso County include 425 females and 377 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are currently 38 patients who are hospitalized, and 18 of those hospitalized are in ICU.
“We are grateful to see people are recovering but the deaths we have seen are mostly made up of the most vulnerable. If someone in your household is sick, please self-quarantine. However, if you feel that being out in public is more important than the lives of those who are vulnerable to this disease, then please remember, if you do get sick and end up in the hospital, you will not be allowed to have friends and family over to comfort you,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.
“Our most vulnerable residents such as our seniors, people with underlying health conditions and those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk. Do not risk their lives and keep your distance from them. It is everybody’s responsibility.”
In addition to abiding by the amended directive and avoiding any gatherings with anyone outside a person’s immediate household, it is important to minimize contact with those at greatest risk.
Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised; including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
    • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
    • People with diabetes
    • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
    • People with liver disease
Public health officials direct residents to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks. Face coverings should be cleaned daily. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering.
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). To report non-compliance call 3-1-1 or visit www.epstrong.org.

 

***

***Health officials announce 780 cases of COVID19, Two more deaths raise total to 12 (4/25/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting two (2) additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 12. Both patients are males with underlying health conditions, one in his 70s and the other in his 90s.
El Paso is also reporting 74 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 780. Positive cases in El Paso County include 416 females and 364 males; see accompanying graphics and map.
There are now 36 patients who are hospitalized, and 16 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.
“We once again are saddened to report two new deaths due to COVID-19, and our hearts go out to the families of these two men. We are also extremely disappointed to report another large increase in the number of positive cases,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority. “The public must remember there is no vaccine for this disease; which is why we continue to stress that each person must take responsibility and follow the local directive. Everyone should strictly adhere to the directive by staying home and not go out unless it is for essential purposes. If you must go out wear a face covering and continue to wash your hands often with soap and water.”
Public health officials continue to remind residents that the Stay Home, Work Safe order remains in effect. Face coverings, such as bandanas, homemade cloth masks or scarves, should be worn over the nose and mouth when out in public and must be washed daily.
Individuals are reminded to be cautious to not touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering. If you wear gloves, make sure they are properly disposed of and worn appropriately. (See: What is Cross-Contamination?)
The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If these symptoms appear and do not improve, the person should contact their healthcare provider or seek medical attention.
The 21-COVID hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6). For more information, visit www.epstrong.org.

***

***El Paso DPH: 706 cases of COVID19, Total deaths remain at 10 (4/24/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting 32 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 706, the number of deaths remains at ten (10).

Positive cases in El Paso County include 371 females and 335 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are now 38 patients who are hospitalized, and 26 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“As our businesses look to the opportunity of reopening and our economy works to be reawakened, we must not forget about our community’s health,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.

“Our numbers will keep increasing if we don’t adhere to the amended orders, stay at home, practice social distancing, and if we must go out and know that we will be interacting with others we must wear face coverings. We can prevent the spread of this virus by being responsible and taking care of yourself and others, but it will take all of us working together.”

In addition to abiding by the amended directive and avoiding any gatherings with anyone outside a person’s immediate household, public health officials direct residents to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the use of simple cloth face coverings can slow the spread of the virus by helping people, who may have the virus and do not know it, from transmitting it to others. (Guidelines – Click here)

It is also recommended that the face coverings be cleaned daily. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering.

Failing to comply with the amended directives could result in a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500; but additional violations could result in a Class B misdemeanor, which can include a fine up to $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail.

***

*** EPISD food services employee tests positive for COVID-19 (4/24/2020)

The El Paso Independent School District was notified today that a Food Service employee who works at Logan Elementary has tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee is currently self-quarantining at home.

Logan Elementary is meal distribution site and will be closed down until further notice. Powell Elementary, at 4750 Ellerthorpe, will be used as an alternate meal distribution site.

“The District is concerned about the news of one of its own testing positive for this virus and we wish for a speedy recovery. We are in contact with the employee and will continue to provide any assistance,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “We have taken precautions to maintain the safety of our meal distribution sites and will continue our commitment to provide healthy food to our students during these difficult times.”

All employees who worked with this staff member have been asked to self-quarantine for the next 14 days and will not report to work. Logan Elementary will be sanitized thoroughly.

Out of an abundance of caution, any family who picked up meals at Logan this week, are advised to monitor their health, follow the CDC guidelines for people who have had close contact, and contact their primary care physician if they develop symptoms.

EPISD will continue to monitor this situation and will provide additional information as needed.

***

***El Paso COVID19 cases increase to 674; DPH reports no new deaths (4/23/2020)

Thursday afternoon, Mayor Dee Margo announced that the number of COVID19 cases increased to 674, with no additional deaths.  Mayor Margo also added that the City and the County would now mandate face coverings/masks for all area residents.

As of today, the Department of Public Health (DPH) Paso is reporting 29 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 674, the number of deaths remains at ten (10).

Positive cases in El Paso County include 350 females and 324 males; see graphics and map below.

There are now 33 patients who are hospitalized, and 21 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

The City and County officials are amending the Emergency Directive that will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight, April 23, and will remain in effect until further notice. The City and County of El Paso will incrementally re-open the economy with guidance from healthcare and business leaders.

The amended directive follows the States order for re-opening the economy to include:

Face Coverings

  • All individuals over the age of two (2), are to wear some form of face covering over their nose and mouth, while outside of their home or residence. A face covering may include face masks, cloth fabric coverings that fit snugly but comfortable against the side of the face and is secured with ties or ear loops, bandanas, scarves and neck gaiters.
  • Parents and guardians of children over the age of two (2) and under the age of ten (10) shall be responsible for appropriately masking children when outside their residence.
  • A face covering is not required on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or exercising outdoors and not within 6 feet of any other individual not form the same household.
  • All non-residents in nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities shall wear a fabric face covering.
  • 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.

 

Prohibited Activities

  • All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside or inside a single household or dwelling unit are prohibited.
  • Nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities are to minimize the movement of staff between facilities whenever possible and prohibit non-critical assistance visitors or providers, as determined through the guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
  • Any public of private gatherings at any recreational area, park, pool or recreational facility is prohibited.

o   This includes hike and bike trails, whether formally recognized by the City or not; including, but not limited to any golfing in public or private courses; any gathering in school recreation areas, tennis clubs, and any other private recreational club; the area near Socorro Independent School District Student Activities Complex (“SAC”) located near 1300 Joe Battle Boulevard; all to include the use of any type of recreational vehicle at any outdoor area.

  • Residents can walk and run along established walking paths that exist adjacent to streets, parks or within parks; but are prohibited from using trails and trailheads
  • Franklin Mountains State Park shall remain closed until further notice.

Retail-to-Go: Guidance for Employers, Employees and Customers

  • Requirements

o   All employees must be trained on environmental cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

o   All employees must be screened before coming into the business for new or worsening cough; shortness of breath; sore throat; loss of taste or smell; feeling feverish or measured temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit; or known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID19. Any employee who meets any of these criteria should be sent home

o   Upon entering the business, employees must wash or sanitize hands

o   All employees must wear face coverings

o   Employees must maintain at least 6 feet separation from one another

How to Purchase Goods from Re-Opened Retail Businesses

  • Customers may purchase items from retail location for pickup, delivery by mail, or delivery to the customer’s doorstep but may not enter the premises.
  • Retail to go guidelines:

o   All payments should be done over the phone or internet if possible and contact should be minimized if remote payment is not available

o   Purchased items should be delivered by the employee to the backseat or trunk of the customer’s vehicle whenever possible to minimize physical contact with the customer

o   Employees must wash or sanitize their hands after each interaction with a customer, and whenever possible. Must disinfect any item that came into contact with the customer

  • Retail delivery to customer’s doorstep:

o   All payments should be done over the phone or internet if possible, and contact would be minimized if remote payment is not available

o   Purchased items should be delivered by an employee or third-party carrier and delivered to the customer’s doorstep. The employee or third-party carrier may not enter the customer’s house or business

  • Retail delivery by mail:

o   All payments must be done over the phone or internet

o   Purchased items should be delivered by mail without customer contact

  • The customer should wash or sanitize their hands after the transaction.

The directive still allows the public to visit grocery stores, gas stations, and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

The updated order with additional changes is available at www.EPStrong.org under “Health Orders.” Residents are encouraged to report non-compliance by calling 3-1-1.

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

***

*** Viva! El Paso cancels 2020 Season (4/23/2020)

Via a post on their Facebook page, officials announced the cancellation of the Viva! El Paso 2020 performance season.  The announcement comes a little over a month after officials had decided to postpone the start of this year’s annual performances.

Their complete statement is below:

The El Paso Community Foundation & El Paso Live regret to announce the cancellation of Viva! El Paso in the McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre for 2020.

We hope to focus during this unprecedented time on our community and will be working towards bringing the show back in 2021!

Safety concerns and insufficient time to prepare the production due to the coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of the 43rd season of the annual historical musical, which was scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays, June 19 through July 24 in the outdoor theater.

Auditions were scheduled for March 26-28 but were postponed indefinitely due to emergency guidelines. Rehearsals were to begin in April, but also were postponed indefinitely.

Organizers hoped to salvage a shorter run of this year’s show, but growing uncertainty about when auditions and rehearsals can be rescheduled, venues can reopen, and live events can return factored into the decision.

“We regret that we have to take this year off in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our desire to help flatten the curve of illness in our community,” said Eric Pearson, President and CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation.

“We hope to focus during this unprecedented time on our community and will be working towards bringing back this spectacular show as soon as it is safe,” said Bryan Crowe, General Manager of Destination El Paso.

Viva! El Paso is produced by a partnership of the El Paso Community Foundation and El Paso Live

***

*** DPH: El Paso area has 645 cases; Officials announce 10th death (4/21/2020)

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is reporting one (1) additional COVID-19 death, for a total number of ten (10) deaths. The patient was a male in his 70s with underlying medical conditions.

The City is also reporting 58 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 645. Positive cases in El Paso County include 332 females and 313 males; see accompanying graphics and map. There are 35 patients who are hospitalized, and 18 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

“It is critically important that we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. We are still seeing double digit in the number of positive cases and we have not reached our peak, which is why we keep insisting that people need to stay home and avoid leaving your home unless absolutely necessary,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.

“If you must leave your home for essential activities, then wear a cloth face covering. It is imperative to remember, cloth face coverings and gloves are not a replacement for proper social distancing, frequent handwashing and self-isolation when sick.”

Public health officials continue to remind residents that the Stay Home order remains in effect and urges the community to use face coverings when out performing essential duties or tasks. Face coverings should be washed daily. Individuals are reminded to be cautious to not touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash their hands immediately after removing the covering. If you wear gloves, make sure they are properly disposed of and worn appropriately. (See: What is Cross-Contamination)

The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If these symptoms appear and do not improve, the person should contact their healthcare provider or seek medical attention.

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

***

***Domino’s Pizza donates 300+ Pizzas to University Medical Center, El Paso Children’s Hospital (4/21/2020)

This week, Domino’s Pizza has proven its slogan: “It’s what we do” by delivering donated pizzas to University Medical Center the last three days.

“We are so touched by the community’s outpouring and concern for our healthcare heroes and associates of both hospitals,” said Estela Casas, Executive Director of UMC and El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Domino’s Pizza has raised the bar in compassion and generosity!”

The donation has come through the COVID-19 Compassionate Care Fund. Donations can be made by clicking here.

***

*** NM Governor Extends “Stay Home” Order to May 15th – 71 Total Deaths, 7 New Cases in Dona Ana County (4/21/2020)

During a Wednesday afternoon update, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the state’s Stay at Home Public Health Order is officially extended through May 15th, 2020.

Additionally, New Mexico state health officials announced 139 additional positive tests for COVID-19, with 82 total cases in Dona Ana County, and 3 in Otero County.

For a full update on COVID-19 information, and news from Las Cruces and the Southern New Mexico area, visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today.

***

***Canutillo students to receive free meals for weekends (4/22/2020)

Starting this Friday, April 24, the Canutillo ISD Child Nutrition Department will be distributing breakfast and lunch for the weekend to children ages 18 and under on Fridays.

“We will continue to find ways to serve our students and community,” CISD Child Nutrition Director Marco Macias said. “It is a challenging time for everyone right now and meals on weekends are one less thing to worry about.”

Bus delivery and curbside pickup of meals resume Monday through Friday. In order to continue to protect the health of all, breakfast and lunch are combined to minimize contact.

Buses distribute breakfast and lunch at designated bus stops. Students that wish to pick up meals at the bus stop, see the full list here.

If parents prefer drive-thru curbside pickup, it is available from 11:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the following schools:

  • Canutillo High School
  • Childress Elementary
  • Canutillo Elementary
  • Garcia Elementary
  • Davenport Elementary (curbside pick-up from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)

Parents receiving meals for children at any of the distribution sites need only show documentation and no longer need to bring their children. Participating locations and available on the district website

**

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

COVID-19 limited regular operations but not basic NCO training due to eBLC

Noncommissioned Officer Academies (NCOAs) across the Army graduated the first emergency Basic Leader Course (eBLC), Class 006, May 8.

The process of each eBLC varied from fully online training to blended learning that consists of a combination of limited face to face training and online training via Blackboard.mil (BB).

No matter what process the graduates endured the end state is the same, the force is provided with newly trained and educated noncommissioned officers.

Responsible for all activities involved with analysis, design, development, and evaluation of educational products within the course is Sgt. Maj.

Christopher West, the BLC manager with the Curriculum Development directorate at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence, and his team.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, West created and tested a BLC hub at the Fort Bliss NCOA.

“During this testing, I kept track of the situation and started to formulate an initial plan to allow academies to continue providing education for the Army,” West said. “The redesign of the BLC BB hub allows us to continue training by creating and designing virtual products to assist facilitators.”

The pandemic did not stop the progress of the NCO Corps, due to the innovation of West and his team. This is how over 2,000 Soldiers graduated on May 8 from eBLC and headed back to the force.

“During the entire course, we highlight the importance of leaders at every level to be adaptive, agile, creative, and critical thinkers,” he said.

Throughout the course, Spc. Xavier White had to do just that, by adapting from a hands-on and physical environment to an asynchronous learning environment overnight.

White is attending eBLC fully online through the 101st NCO Academy at Fort Campbell.

“When I joined the Army, I thought my days of writing papers and going to lectures were over,” White said. “My job is hands-on; I work with aircraft requiring minimal paperwork. When I started eBLC, I had to change my thought process and the way I learn. Going from everyday hands-on work to an online course had me completely out of my comfort zone.”

White also used his critical thinking skills when it came to researching and writing papers.

“The course pushed me to do my research and work on my writing,” he said. “Something I struggled with in my high school days, all while teaching me what it means to be a future NCO.”

White also provided words of advice for future eBLC students.

“Keep up with the discussion boards,” he said. “It not only helps you from falling behind, but it also helps your classmates by giving them the ability to respond on time.”

White added, “practice your time management skills now and read the rubrics before you start your assignments. They are time savers.”

Just like Spc. White, the instructors at the NCOAs, also needed to be adaptive to overcome the challenges of not being physically in the classroom.

“Attaching slides, handouts, rubrics, activities, or Center of Army Lessons Learned (CALL) discussions to the objective in the lesson, so students didn’t have to go back and forth looking for items,” are ways Staff Sgt. Karlene Adkins from the Fort Hood NCOA helped her students during the eBLC due to the inconsistency of BB.mil.

She added, “We created a discussion reply tracker [separated by phases]. It helped us monitor the students who are not participating in everyday discussion and lessons.”

Preparation is vital in all things, especially when preparing for a new blended eBLC class, said Staff Sgt. Darryll Rideout from the Fort Hood NCOA who provided feedback to his NCOA counterparts.

“Prepare your classes before you post them on a live feed,” he said. “Because of the blackboard backlog. Once you get into a rhythm and everyone does their part, it will run a lot smoother. It may seem like a lot of work, but it is accomplishable.”

Besides preparing for another BLC class, the instructors needed to shift their thinking from the physical classroom to a virtual one.

“One of the key changes we encountered with the instructors is changing their mindset from a controlled environment [resident] to a Mission Command approach to conduct the blended model,” Command Sgt. Maj. Alton Wright of the Fort Hood NCOA said.

Through the eBLC, all of the NCOAs worked closely with each other and the NCOLCoE team.

“The NCOA moto is Team of Teams, our instructors had to learn quickly how to collaborate and trust leaders from other units and sometimes other installations,” Wright said. “They had to adapt quickly to the day to day challenges of working within the technically challenging environment of BB for over 310 students [Fort Hood NCOA].”

Even though eBLC is either fully online or blended, the curriculum is the same as the resident course, and the essential element of rigor is never left out.

“Our overall approach to the Blended BLC was for us to try our best to maintain the integrity of the course by adding rigor and keeping our soldiers safe,” Wright said.

Senior leaders throughout the force demonstrated and set the example by continuing to provide a world-class education to the junior leaders.

“This approach was challenging but not impossible. As the course progressed, we notice more leadership involvement from the Brigade level leaders on down,” Wright said.

The collaborations from the NCOAs and the instructors also brought about best practices for the course.

“Brigades from Fort Hood and Fort Riley identified prior certified instructors and Drill Sergeants within their formations to serve as Assistant instructors to help with the four Face to face evaluations for the offsite students,” Wright said.

“Every NCOA had their challenges during the eBLC, and I commend them on their efforts in executing and delivering the course content,” West said. “All facilitators have done a tremendous job during this time of crisis affecting the world.”

He added, “the BLC Branch chiefs worked tirelessly with the NCOLCoE team migrating internal tracking systems and establishing BB systems which set the conditions for the instructors to utilize during their period of instructions.”

The eBLC is a temporary fix for, the current environment.
“The plan for BLC is to go back to being a resident course with the ability to conduct a virtual version to areas that might not be able to travel to an academy as well as any future pandemics or crisis,” West said.

Wright added, “As the Army continues to modernize, we can use this approach during contingency periods when soldiers are forward-deployed, which will enable them to stay on course with the select-train-educate-promote (STEP) model.”

COVID-19 may have limited regular operations and troop movement, but it did not inhibit the NCOLCoE’s ability to train and educate new NCOs into the force.

Author: Danielle ODonnell  – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

El Paso nurse helping in New York: ‘Loss on such a grand scale is incredibly challenging for me’

Many of the hundreds of COVID-19 patients that Registered Nurse Sarah Sullivan has cared for in New York have died in the emergency room where she’s working.

“As a nurse, I’ve lost patients before, but loss on such a grand scale and when they’re so young …,” she said before taking a breath and looking down.

“I don’t think any of us came out here thinking we were going to be superheroes and save the world,” she continued. “It is a very, very helpless feeling when you have no beds and there’s nothing you can do even through all of your best efforts.

“That’s incredibly challenging for me,” she paused again.

“I never wanted to be a hospice nurse for that very reason,” she continued. “That’s been my role lately, just holding people’s hands.

“They’re alone. They don’t have visitors. And they know they’re dying.”

‘Reversal of roles’

Sullivan ended up in New York City after a company she had done contract work for contacted her on April 6 about helping in New York.

She’s a nurse at El Paso Behavioral Health, and she’s completing Austin Peay’s BSN work online.

The El Paso hospital’s medical director told Sullivan “that I needed to follow my heart and my skill set and go where the need was greatest. He allowed me to take a leave of absence.”

Her husband, Sgt. First Class William Sullivan, and she also needed to decide if she should go.

He served at Fort Campbell for seven years before being reassigned to Fort Bliss, Texas.

“It was kind of a role reversal for my husband and me because he’s usually the one leaving to go help people,” Sullivan said.

The company contacted Sullivan on April 6. She was on a plane to New York on April 8. Her husband, an Army career counselor at Fort Bliss, is home with their five kids.

‘The nurses here were drowning’

Sullivan has worked 12- to 14-hour shifts every day except one since she arrived April 8 in New York City to help with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have a skill, and it was needed,” said Sullivan, an Austin Peay State University student who will earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in July. “I went into nursing to help people, and there were a lot of people here who needed help.

“Not just the patients but other health care workers,” Sullivan added. “The nurses here were drowning.”

Sullivan is working in a Level 1 Trauma emergency room at a hospital now, but she’s also helped at field hospitals in the city.

“Most of what we’re seeing right now are patients with COVID complications,” she said. “At first, there were about 300 patients (citywide) a day being ventilated. Now, we’re down to dozens a day.”

Sullivan is caring for people with acute respiratory distress who need intubation before going to the intensive care unit (ICU).

“A lot of our patients actually are in the 25-to-40-year range,” she said. “They’re having a lot of heart attacks and strokes (because of clotting). So, it’s mostly trying to stabilize those and get them to the ICUs.”

Sarah Sullivan: A day in the life

Sullivan works nights and sleeps during the day. Her shift is 7 p.m.-7 a.m., but she works longer if she has a critical patient.

After work one day, Sullivan ventured to the World Trade Center site. Here, she stands on an abandoned street near the site. The new World Trade Center building stands in the background.

She usually does her homework for a couple of hours when she gets back to the hotel room where she’s living. She usually sleeps from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Returning home

“The hospitals are not quite as busy, and part of that is because a lot of nurses answered the call for help,” Sullivan said. “Another part of it is ‘stay at home’ worked.”

Sullivan’s contract ends May 25, but she doesn’t know if she’ll return home then.

The city “is starting to open things back up now, so we’re probably going to see another surge right about the time my contract is up,” she said.

Sullivan also has to consider classwork. Once she graduates in July, she’ll start in Austin Peay’s family nurse practitioner program.

“As hard as it’s been trying to keep up with homework for the BSN program, I don’t know that I want to be here for the master’s program,” she said.

Her Austin Peay professors, however, know where Sullivan is and what she’s doing. They’ve worked with her on extended deadlines.

“I’m immensely grateful to all the faculty in the nursing department, every single one of them, and to the faculty in my core classes,” she said. “They have been phenomenal.”

In an email to APSU School of Nursing’s Dr. Debra Wilson, Sullivan said the school’s public and community health lessons helped prepare her for her service in New York.

“Nobody really knows what’s going on sometimes, we’re just taking care of patients, but sometimes you just have to step up and say, ‘OK, we’re going to break it down this way,'” Sullivan said. “My education at Austin Peay, had I not had those components, the leadership in community and public health, I don’t think I’d be as successful or as prepared as I am.”

Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare joins Convalescent Plasma Study for COVID-19 Patients in El Paso

Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare officials announced Monday that they are participating in a national study to determine if plasma from convalescent, or recovered, COVID-19 patients may benefit individuals currently hospitalized with severe or life-threatening cases of the virus.

As part of the effort, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare is seeking eligible volunteers from the El Paso area to donate plasma to help current patients in need.

“We are proud to take part in this important study,” Dr. Ogechika Alozie, chief medical officer of Del Sol Medical Center, said. “We are asking for the help of our community to spread awareness about plasma donation for patients facing COVID-19 not only here in El Paso, but also around the world.”

Hospital officials say that, to date, there is no proven therapy for individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19, but there is a long history of successful viral infection treatment using convalescent plasma. After someone is infected with a virus like COVID-19 and recovers, their blood contains antibodies that their immune system produced to help them fight off the virus.

By infusing this plasma into patients who are facing severe cases of COVID-19, their immune system might more effectively be able to fight the virus.

Recent examples of this approach have occurred during outbreaks of coronaviruses like SARS-1, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), but additional clinical data—and more plasma donations—are needed to determine efficacy in treating COVID-19.

“The success of the study hinges on the continued collection of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Oscar Vega, chief medical officer of Las Palmas Medical Center, said. “People in this community are always willing to help each other, and recovered patients are looking for ways to help. Plasma donations, for those who are eligible, is a great option.”

People who tested positive for COVID-19 and have since tested negative can help by donating plasma through Vitalant. To find out more about the donation process, eligibility and locations to donate in El Paso, please call our dedicated COVID-19 Plasma Phone Line at (833) 582-1971.

Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare is one of 172 hospitals participating from the HCA Healthcare network. HCA Healthcare, along with its Sarah Cannon Research Institute, is leveraging its clinical research capabilities and national hospital network to quickly expand collection and testing for this study, which is being led by the Mayo Clinic and supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Hospital officials add that this is one of several research initiatives involving COVID-19 in which HCA Healthcare and Sarah Cannon are participating.

Medical experts exploring how COVID19 impact patients with diabetes

The spread of coronavirus requires people to stay home and practice social distancing to prevent exposure to the virus. Individuals at high-risk are especially vulnerable, including those with diabetes.

Baylor College of Medicine‘s Dr. Daniel DeSalvo, assistant professor of pediatrics – diabetes and endocrinology at Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital, explains why, and offers tips for prevention.

Many people with diabetes have a compromised immune system, especially if their diabetes is not well controlled. People with congestive heart failure, hypertension and obesity also have a higher risk for complications with COVID-19. The risk for these conditions is higher in underserved communities.

Because coronavirus is a novel disease, experts have little evidence showing different risks between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

“What we theorize is that having worse diabetes control, higher hemoglobin A1C and higher blood sugars increase the risk of having a worse case of COVID-19,” said Dr. DeSalvo, “That includes higher risk for requiring hospitalization, ICU stays and mortality.”

Experts suggest having a plan in place for managing your diabetes if you contract an infectious disease like coronavirus. Drink fluids for hydration, check blood sugars closely, have insulin at home and connect with your diabetes provider to get support. Some aspects of diabetes can be managed from home if you remain vigilant and plan ahead.

“For now, we’ve moved most of our diabetes clinic visits to a telehealth platform. Our patients on continuous glucose monitors can easily share their glucose data via cloud-based mobile apps.  Insulin pumps can be downloaded from home and shared with our clinic. In some cases, our clinic staff obtains the glucose and insulin information through conversation. Regardless of how the data are obtained, we still play an important role in helping to optimize their diabetes management plans.These visits can be really effective in helping patients improve their clinical outcome,” he said.

Experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath, severe fevers or dehydration warrant urgent medical care. Consider contacting your primary care specialist before visiting the emergency room.

On the prevention side, DeSalvo advises eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercising, whether that includes walking, doing home-based activities or exercising together as a family. All of this can help ensure health and wellness and can improve the immune system, which may help in decreasing the risk of having a severe infection with COVID-19.

He also stresses the importance of practicing good handwashing, social distancing and wearing a mask in public to mitigate the risk of spreading or contracting the virus.

For parents taking care of their child’s diabetes, remember the importance of also taking care of their other needs with schooling, making sure they’re well fed and getting exercise. Focus on things other than COVID and partake in your child’s favorite activities to distract them.

“This is a time to be prepared, but certainly not panicked. We will get through this together, it’s just a matter of time. Always know that your diabetes care team is here for you,” DeSalvo said.

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