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Home | Tag Archives: COVID-19

Tag Archives: COVID-19

El Paso-area Updates: City’s Coronavirus cases rise to 35; Marathon Petroleum donates 9.6k masks to UMC, El Paso Children’s Hospital; Clint ISD gives students Hotspots

Area government offices, school districts, and other organizations continue to rapidly release information on their Coronavirus (COVID-19) preparations and guidelines.

This story will be updated as new information arrives.

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

***El Paso identifies five additional COVID-19 cases Saturday afternoon (3/28/2020)

The number of COVID-19 cases in El Paso County now stands at 35. This afternoon the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported five (5) new confirmed cases.

“As expected the number of COVID cases continues to increase. We are still conducting epidemiological investigations and can’t confirm local spread at this time; however, as I’ve stated before local spread is something we can expect to see very soon,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso City/County Health Authority. “We need the community to understand the urgent need for each of us to do our part and change our behavior in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We should all be rigorously practicing social distancing, stay at home as ordered and continue to take precautions by washing your hands regularly.”

Officials are also highlighting the importance of social distancing and those who leave home should do so by themselves and avoid taking seniors and

Positive cases in El Paso County include 22 females and 13 males:

Age Range Number of Cases
Teens 2
20s 6
30s 10
40s 5
50s 5
60s 5
70s 1
  80s * 1
* Please note there is a correction in the age ranges.

Covering your cough, avoid touching your face, practicing regular handwashing, and cleaning common areas with disinfectant continue to be stressed.

Local public health officials also want the public to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms don’t improve they should contact their healthcare provider or seek medical attention if necessary.

The 21-COVID hotline will be 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, services contact 2-1-1 Texas Call Center that is available 24/7 and select option six for more information.

Stay up-to-date with the latest information by subscribing to both the City and DPH social media platforms, and to visit www.epstrong.org for updates.

***

*** Marathon Petroleum donates 9,600 masks to University Medical Center, El Paso Children’s Hospital  (3/28/2020)

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

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

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

To read the complete article and to donate, click here.

***

***Hotspots Now Available for Clint ISD Students  (3/27/2020)

In order to ensure that 100% of our students have internet connectivity, Clint ISD has purchased WIFI hotspots that are now available to issue to our families.

The District WIFI hotspots provide filtered internet access to student Chromebooks and devices. The hotspots comply with the Children’s Internet Protections Act.

The District hotspots will be assigned to Clint ISD families in need of internet access at home. A hotspot request form can be found at www.clintweb.net. Contact Clint ISD Technology Information Services at hotspot@clint.net if you have questions.

Clint ISD has invested $900,000 to purchase the hotspots so students can continue their education from home through the Clint ISD Remote Learning Plan.

Please visit www.clintweb.net or follow us on social media for updates.

***

***City’s Coronavirus total now at 30, 268 residents have been tested (3/27/2020)

During a Friday afternoon news conference, Mayor Dee Margo updated the area, saying there were now 30 cases of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Mayor Margo added that 268 El Pasoans have been tested for COVID19 via the Drive thru testing sites.

DPH officials say with more testing available the increase in cases does not come as a surprise.

“While we can’t confirm local spread at this time, local spread is something we can expect to see very soon,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso City/County Health Authority. “People need to change their behavior in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We should all be practicing social distancing and continue to take precautions by washing your hands regularly.”

Positive Cases in El Paso County, 19 female, 11 male:

Age Range

Number of Cases

Teens

2

20s

6

30s

7

40s

4

50s

4

60s

5

70s

2

Officials are also highlighting the importance of social distancing and those who leave home should do so by themselves and avoid taking seniors and children with them. As they make their way in the community they should also maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.

Covering your cough, avoid touching your face, practicing regular handwashing, and cleaning common areas with disinfectant continue to be stressed.

Local public health officials also want the public to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms don’t improve they should call their doctor.

The 21-COVID hotline will be 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 services contact 2-1-1 Texas Call Center that is available 24/7 and select option six for more information.

Stay up-to-date with the latest information by subscribing to both the City and DPH social media platforms, and to visit www.epstrong.org for updates

***

***City Landfill Service Changes due to COVID-19  (3/27/2020)

Beginning Saturday, March 28, 2020, the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department (ESD) will only accept credit card payments for disposal of waste at the Greater El Paso Landfill.

To reduce contact with cash payments and minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, the landfill, at 2600 Darrington, will only be accepting credit and debit card payments until further notice.

City staff have been provided with protective gear, including gloves, will wipe down credit and debit cards with disinfectant to provide additional protection to customers and themselves.

All landfill visitors who do not have credit or debit cards will not be allowed on site.

For more information, please call 915.212.6000.

***

***YISD schools remain closed, online learning begins April 6 (3/27/2020)

Given the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19’s impact on our community, Ysleta Independent School District students and staff will not return to school on Monday, April 6, as previously planned. Instead, Ysleta ISD will launch THEDISTRICT@Home online learning program for students on April 6 with support from teachers and principals, officials said Friday.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Xavier De La Torre said he will continue to monitor recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the El Paso County Health Department before determining a date for students to return to Ysleta ISD campuses.

“Rest assured that Ysleta ISD continues to work tirelessly to assist families in adjusting to these new circumstances, and to transition students from instruction in traditional classrooms to online learning at home in the most seamless and efficient way possible,” Dr. De La Torre said.

To accomplish this effort, Ysleta ISD teachers and instructional specialists have been planning lessons and preparing for students to begin virtual instruction on Monday, April 6.

Teachers are currently making contact with students to familiarize them with the technology to ensure online lessons begin on April 6. Families without Internet access at home will be notified prior to April 6 with details on how to retrieve paper packets with instructional lessons from their child’s campus.

“Although the future is uncertain, we remain hopeful and optimistic,” Dr. De La Torre said. “We look forward to welcoming back our students and staff.”

THEDISTRICT@Home can be accessed at www.yisd.net, which has been transformed into a “one-stop shop” for families. It features extensive information and links on COVID-19, online learning, the newly launched Health Hotline staffed by school nurses, and “Grab & Go” school meals.

Families have responded overwhelmingly to Ysleta ISD’s “Grab & Go” drive-through meal service, which allows them to drive up to select schools from 7:30 to 11 a.m. on weekdays and receive curbside delivery of breakfast and lunch meals for children under 18.

In its first full week, about 110,000 meals were distributed at participating Ysleta ISD sites combined.

Currently, children must be inside the vehicle for drivers to receive meals. However, the state is working to lift this restriction; any updates will be communicated to Ysleta ISD families.

Effective Monday, March 30, the district will add an additional four “Grab & Go” sites, reflected in the list below:

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

***

***Clint ISD Closed Indefinitely Due to Coronavirus Pandemic (3/27/2020)

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

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

Clint ISD will remain closed indefinitely in accordance with City of El Paso Department of Public Health guidance.

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

The Clint ISD Remote Learning Plan will continue to provide at home instruction for our students. Teachers and District personnel will be available to support parents and students. Contact information can be found online.

Meals will continue to be available for pick-up for all children ages 1-18 at all schools and various bus drop-off locations Monday through Friday.

Students and staff are asked to remain at home and follow health department guidelines regarding the spread of Coronavirus.

Please visit Clint ISD’s website or follow them on social media for updates.

***

*** CANUTILLO ISD TO REMAIN CLOSED INDEFINITELY  (3/27/2020)

Canutillo ISD will now remain closed indefinitely. However, online learning begins Monday, March 30. Visit our website to download the Remote Learning Toolkit.

***

***UTEP President Wilson release update on emergency assistance, Maymester, Summer and Fall  (3/27/2020)

Thanks to everyone for everything you are doing to keep people healthy and manage the shift to online learning for the remainder of the semester. I appreciate the professionalism and the positive attitudes of everyone in this unprecedented situation.

Making A Difference

Over 1,000 of our low-income students have received emergency assistance through UTEP to get computers or wifi hotspots so that they can finish the semester by distance. Kudos to Student Affairs and Financial Aid for figuring out how to get that done.

Institutional Advancement has raised over $7,300 from generous alumni and donors to help students in need.

Information Resources has tripled the capacity of our Virtual Private Network over the past week and has been working with the technology people in colleges to redirect traffic and keep people operating.

And faculty have been helping each other, rapidly learning new skills and shifting content online in preparation for next week. Thanks to all of you – particularly those who have never done online instruction before and are embracing the challenge.

There will be glitches and frustrations next week, to be sure. Let’s do everything we can to help each other and help our students.

Maymester and Summer

Over the past week, the faculty and leadership team have been evaluating how to adapt for Maymester and summer. Dr. Wiebe will be following up with more information for faculty, and Dr. Edens and his team will be getting information to students.

We’ve decided to move Maymester entirely online. For courses that just can’t transition to online, faculty will try, if possible, to move them later in the summer, either in traditional summer semesters or in a late July two-week session that would likely be more amenable to in-person delivery.

For summer semester, we are going to start enrolling students in online courses only. If the situation changes, we will open face-to-face sections. We will be encouraging faculty who are experienced in online instruction to offer courses this summer and opening more of our online courses to enrollment through Finish@UT.

Again, more information to follow from the Provost and Deans.

Fall

For now, we will continue to plan a normal fall schedule and continue to monitor the situation.

Health

While so many of you are working remotely from home, I wanted to encourage all of you to follow all of the best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We have had three staff members and one student test positive for COVID-19 after traveling. When that happens, we immediately work with them to identify any contacts they may have had at UTEP and where, if at all, they were on campus. Then we let all of you (and the public) know, while protecting their privacy. We think that is the best thing to do for all of us.

UTEP does have a number of students and faculty who returned from abroad who are in self-quarantine.  We check in with them every day and see how they are doing.

This brings up an issue on which we need your help. Normally, you would call in and let your supervisor know that you are staying home because you are sick. Now, I’m asking you to call your supervisor and let them know if you are feeling ill so that the UTEP Office of Environmental Health and Safety can connect with you every day and monitor your symptoms. Otherwise, we won’t know about it and we can’t help you or help protect and monitor others.

Again, thanks for everything you are doing to keep educating our students during a very unusual time.

Regards,

Heather Wilson

President

P.S. Glad the earthquake yesterday was mild. You can’t make this up . . . :@)

***

***NMSU Aggie Cupboard works to meet demand during COVID-19 pandemic (3/27/2020)

In the days and weeks since COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic, empty grocery store shelves have become an all-too-common sight.

But New Mexico State University’s on-campus food pantry, Aggie Cupboard, is working to ensure students, staff and faculty facing food insecurity have access to pantry staples during this time of crisis.

Aggie Cupboard, founded in 2012 on a mission to provide free supplementary food assistance to community members attending or working at NMSU and Doña Ana Community College, has experienced a two-fold increase in clientele since concerns over COVID-19 started escalating earlier this month, said Aggie Cupboard Director Meg Long.

During the week of March 15, Aggie Cupboard volunteers distributed approximately 2,483 pounds of nonperishable food items to 191 clients, said Long, who noted that she sees an average of 70 to 80 clients per week during a typical spring semester.

++To read the complete article, click here.

~~To keep up to date with all news from Las Cruces & Southern New Mexico visit our partners at Las Cruces Today

***

*** Texas Attorney General Pax­ton: Local Gov­ern­ments Must Allow the Sale of Firearms (3/27/2020)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued a legal opinion following a request from Representative Dustin Burrows regarding the sales of firearms in Texas municipalities and counties.

The opinion concludes that municipal and county authorities may not use emergency powers to regulate or restrict the sale of firearms.

“State law provides several emergency powers to local governments to control movement within their region during a disaster, which serves our communities well during public health events like the one we’re fighting now. However, local regulation of the sale, possession, and ownership of firearms is specifically prohibited under Texas law,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Under our laws, every Texan retains their right to purchase and possess firearms.” 

Under the Texas Local Government code, municipal governments possess the limited authority to regulate the use of firearms during a disaster; however, that authority does not extend to the regulation of transfer, possession, ownership or sale of firearms.

Read a copy of the opinion.

***

***NM Governor: K-12 school closings must continue to prevent potential spread of COVID-19   (3/27/2020)

New Mexico public education will shift to a learn-at-home model as schools remain closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state education and child care officials announced Friday.​

The decision is part of a two-pronged plan to protect New Mexicans from COVID-19 and ensure that children are protected, fed and educated and that families are supported through this crisis.

The governor previously ordered all public schools closed for three weeks, March 16-April 3, but warned at the time that an extension could be needed. It came Friday with a new executive order that extends the closing through the end of the school year. See answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.

New Mexico had 136 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases as of Thursday afternoon, including some that are being investigated as community spread, the state Health Department said. School closings are designed to minimize community spread.

“We’re working very hard to contain the virus, and we have to continue to take aggressive steps to mitigate spread and protect New Mexicans of every age all across the state. It is more important than ever that we make sure all New Mexicans are heeding the imperative to stay home,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Keeping schools closed is one of the most important tools we have to support the social distancing that can help us reduce and mitigate the spread of the virus.”

“Schools will not be required to make up the missed instructional days between March 16 and April 3, but for the remaining weeks of the school year to be waived, districts must develop both technology-based and non-technology-based continuous learning plans,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said.

“We know that this decision will have tremendous implications for our families, but we must act to keep our communities safe and healthy,” Stewart said. “We also know that we have extraordinary teachers, support staff and school administrators in New Mexico. If the temporary closure period has shown us anything, it’s that our creative educators and school support staff are committed to meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of our students in challenging circumstances.”

High school credits will be awarded based on flexible approaches, including completion of work, demonstration of competency for course completion and expanded equivalency like work experience. The Public Education Department also recommends schools move to pass/no credit rather than grades during this period.

“While it can be difficult to view the current situation with anything beyond anxiety and apprehension, we believe the wide-reaching consequences of this moment present a tremendous opportunity to transform education to serve all students, especially students who have traditionally been furthest from opportunity,” said Deputy Secretary Kara Bobroff.

“The decisions we make today are made with all of our students in mind. During this unprecedented time, we will continue to build into the public education system healing opportunities for students, families, communities and all New Mexicans,” she said.

Public colleges and universities are not included in the closure order, but most have either extended their spring breaks, moved classes online or both.

School-based health centers, educational programming for youth in facilities, and licensed child care facilities (centers and homes) serving workers whose jobs have been deemed essential will continue operating.

The closing plan includes these provisions:

SPECIAL NEEDS
Students with special needs will receive all feasible supports and accommodations that can be delivered while maintaining safe social-distancing. School districts must continue to support the transition of children from early intervention into preschool special education. Schools offering behavioral health services will remain open for that purpose.

HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS
Individual districts will design measures by which seniors can demonstrate eligibility for graduation. Those measures could include testing, completing a series of assignments, achieving a set score on a college entrance exam or demonstrating applied work experience. Schools will be required to identify and support students in danger of not being able to graduate.

High school seniors will have until June 19 to demonstrate eligibility, and those who fail to do so will be offered credit recovery in the summer; they can also appeal to their local school board or to the secretary. No student will be denied graduation for lack of access to demonstrate competency.

Actual graduation ceremonies will be postponed or held virtually, depending on the prevailing public health order at the time.

Many high school seniors will have completed a college entrance exam already; additionally, many higher education institutions are expected to waive that requirement, and both the ACT and College Board are considering offering those exams in the summer.

ADVANCED PLACEMENT
Advanced placement exams will be offered online and will be limited to material students should have covered up to March. Accommodations will be made for those students who need access to technology to take the tests.

SCHOOL PERSONNEL
School personnel and contractors will remain on call and continue being paid as usual. Districts have already received guidance on activities employees can continue performing during the closure. Bus contractors are encouraged to continue operating bus routes to deliver food and hard-copy lessons. Special education and other service contractors are encouraged to provide virtual services, collaborate with general education teachers and maintain documentation.

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMS
Every New Mexico school district has a plan to continue providing childhood nutrition during this period. You can see those plans here.

The Public Education Department is also seeking permission to distribute Electronic Benefits Transfer cards that would allow qualifying families to purchase meals with their free breakfast/lunch allotment.

CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
With schools closed, some children may be more vulnerable to abuse and neglect in their homes. In addition, teachers, school administrators and other school staff are often the first to notice changes in behavior and appearance that may indicate abuse or neglect. New Mexicans must fill this void and be extra aware of the safety and well-being of children they know and those in their neighborhoods. Any citizen can report suspected child abuse or neglect by dialing #SAFE from their cell phone or by calling 1-855-333-SAFE from a land-line.

SUPPORTING FAMILIES
The Behavioral Health Division of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department is working with the New Mexico Human Services Department and managed care organizations to help providers and families create digital access to mental health services for children and youth.

COLLABORATING WITH NATIONS, TRIBES AND PUEBLOS
Tribes, pueblos and nations are located in some of the most rural parts of New Mexico and often experience extreme health care provider shortages. The governor and state agencies are collaborating with tribal leaders to support their needs in these times.

These state agencies will continue working with the tribes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Indian Education to support students who attend BIE and tribally run schools: Indian Affairs Department, Public Education Department, Children, Youth and Families Department and Early Childhood Education and Care Department.

~~To keep up to date with all news from Las Cruces & Southern New Mexico visit our partners at Las Cruces Today

***

***Canutillo ISD to close until further notice  (3/27/2020)

The Canutillo Independent School District has extended its campus closures until further notice, in accordance to the City of El Paso’s announcement that a Shelter in Place rule has been enacted.

Students and staff are asked to remain at home and follow health department guidelines regarding the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Canutillo ISD staff tied to critical operational resources and distance learning are considered essential personnel and allowed under the Shelter in Place provision.

Distribution of electronic devices to families has begun. The district is distributing one electronic device per family who does not have either a home computer, laptop or tablet at home.  Parents will be contacted by their campus for distribution details.

The district’s online learning program will begin March 30. Visit our website to learn more about Online Learning and download The Remote Learning Toolkit via this link.

Meal distribution for children will continue during the closure. To view the current schedule, click here.

All other district events are postponed. Graduations will be postponed if health guidelines do not allow us to have them in May.

***

***Curbside iPad distribution underway in EPISD (3/27/2020)

The El Paso Independent School District will begin distributing iPads to families who do not have a computer or device in anticipation of the launch of EPISD@HOME, the District’s distance-learning program during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) related campus closures.

One iPad will be given to any family with students in grades kinder through fifth who do not have either a home computer, laptop or tablet at home. Students must be present at the time of distribution and parents must present the child’s student identification number.

Distribution will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 26; Friday, March 27; and Monday March 30 at every elementary school in the District.

EPISD staff at school locations will maintain social distancing and asks the public to comply with those guidelines as well. The distribution of devices is allowed under the recently enacted City of El Paso Stay Home, Work Safe rule.

Please note that the distribution is for elementary-school students only. Middle- and high-school students have a District-issued MacBook Air.

Given the limited amounts of devices in stock, families will be limited to one iPad. Families who have personal laptops, desktops or tablets are asked not to pick up a District iPad in order to help EPISD meet the demand for those in need.

Each campus will have a limited supply of devices. More distribution dates will be announced when new devices arrive in the District.

***

***El Paso Identifies 4 Additional COVID-19 Cases, total now at 25 (3/26/2020)

The number of COVID-19 cases in El Paso County now stands at 26. This afternoon the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported four (4) new confirmed cases.

DPH officials say with more testing available the increase in cases does not come as a surprise.

“Drive-thru testing for specific groups will increase our numbers and allow us to have a better understanding of COVID-19 in our community,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso City/County Health Authority. “It’s important to keep in mind that those who test positive will be ordered to stay home and away from others. We should all be practicing social distancing even if we have not been tested.”

Officials are also highlighting the importance of social distancing and those who leave home should do so by themselves and avoid taking seniors and children with them. As they make their way in the community they should also maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.

Positive Cases in El Paso County, 17 female, 8 male:

Age Range

Number of Cases

Teens

2

20s

4

30s

7

40s

4

50s

3

60s

4

70s

1

Covering your cough, avoid touching your face, practicing regular handwashing, and cleaning common areas with disinfectant continue to be stressed. Local public health officials also want the public to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms don’t improve they should call their doctor.

The 21-COVID hotline will be 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 services contact 2-1-1 Texas Call Center that is available 24/7 and select option six for more information.

Stay up-to-date with the latest information by subscribing to both the City and DPH social media platforms, and to visit www.epstrong.org for updates.

***

***Third UTEP Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19  (3/26/2020)

On Thursday, March 26, a third male employee of The University of Texas at El Paso tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee traveled to the same out-of-town event as the first two employees who tested positive and returned to El Paso on Thursday, March 12.  He is in self-isolation and recovering at home.

The employee had limited access to the Foster Stevens Center on March 13. The facility has been isolated and cleaned regularly with disinfectant. It was also closed and disinfected again March 24.

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

The following are recommendations to stay safe:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash immediately after use.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

• Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.

For the latest updates on the University’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.

***

***City urges public to avoid playground, workout equipment at city parks (3/26/2020)

To stop the spread of COVID-19 and for the safety of the public, the Parks and Recreation Department urges residents not to use playground equipment or workout stations if they visit City parks during the Stay Home, Work Safe order.

During the announcement of the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo advised that people can go to public parks and open recreation areas but are discouraged from using playground or outdoor exercise equipment.

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

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

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

  • Maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance from others
  • Choose less populated parks and trails
  • Do not park in a crowded parking lot or use a crowded trail
  • Wash hands before and after each visit

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

Residents are encouraged to stay up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information by subscribing to both the City of El Paso and DPH social media platforms and visit www.epstrong.org. Information is also available by calling the COVID-19 hotline (915) 212-6843 or (915) 21-COVID.

***

***Tax Office Closes for In-Person Services (3/26/2020)

The El Paso Consolidated Tax Office will be closed to the public for in-person services effective immediately, Thursday, March 26, until further notice, in response to the ongoing public safety concerns related to COVID-19.

While the Tax Office remains closed, taxpayers can still conduct business with the office by mail, phone or online. Taxpayers are encouraged to pay their property taxes through the following methods:

For additional information, please contact the Tax Office at (915) 212-0106, citytaxoffice@elpasotexas.gov or by visiting their website.

For more information about COVID-19, visit www.epstrong.org

***

*** Drive-Thru COVID-19 Specimen Collection Moves into Phase II, Seniors with Symptoms Targeted (3/26/2020)

Thursday morning, the Department of Public Health announced that the drive-thru COVID-19 specimen collection site will collect specimens of seniors 65 years of age or older who have a temperature of 99.6 F or higher.

“We are moving into the second phase of our testing and are now focusing our efforts on members of our community who may belong to high risk groups and could be more seriously affected by the disease,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso City/County Health Authority.

No doctor laboratory order is needed for seniors to have their specimens collected but they must meet the criteria of having a temperature of 99.6 F or higher.

The testing is free and requires no insurance coverage.

Seniors can make an appointment by calling (915) 494-0982 during operational hours of Monday thru Friday from 7am – 3pm.

Location of the collection specimen drive-thru site will be provided when the appointment is made.

Participants should not take any fever reducing medications prior to their appointment.

***

***Victims of domestic/dating violence, sexual assaults, stalking, and human trafficking can apply for a Protective Order online (3/26/2020)

The El Paso County Attorney’s Office remains fully operational, with most of its employees teleworking to offer a full range of services to the public.

Due to the City/County “Stay Home, Work Safe Order,” the Protective Order Unit has modified its procedures and it is now accepting Applications for Protective Orders electronically.

Members of the public who experience family violence, dating violence, sexual assault or abuse, stalking, or human trafficking don’t have to come to our offices in person, and can now file for a Protective Order electronically by going to their webpage. Once there, users will find instructions and all the necessary forms to begin the application process in both English and Spanish.

The new process includes:

⦁ The applicant completes a Conflict Check Form and the Application for Protective Order found on our webpage;
⦁ Applicants will then e-mail the completed forms and a copy of their picture ID to the County Attorney’s Office Protective Order Unit;
⦁ Upon receipt of the application, the Protective Order Unit will conduct a conflict check. If there is no legal conflict, a member of the Protective Order Unit will contact the Applicant to conduct a telephone interview.
⦁ Applicants can sign electronically any necessary documents using free apps like Adobe Fill & sign.

Anyone that has questions about the new application process can e-mail the County Attorney’s Office Protective Order Unit at ProtectiveOrderApplications@gmail.com.

If an Applicant does not have access to the internet, they can call our office at 915-546-2153 and we can assist them over the phone.

***

***HACEP offices are closed but they are still functioning at 100 percent capacity (3/26/2020)

Although the majority of the employees are currently working from home, the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso is fully operating. The Housing Choice Vouchers annual certifications, issuance of vouchers, registration of new applications on the waiting list and payments to property owners continue.

The Housing Choice Voucher waitlist is currently open and will continue until July 3rd of 2020. All applications are to be made through the website www.hacep.org.

Property management companies are currently completing annual certifications and interim certifications due to the income changes or family compositions by appointment. All emergency work orders are being attended within 24 hours.

The CEO of The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, Gerald Cichon, expresses the importance of keeping their residents safe through these hard times. “Our goal is to keep assisting the people of El Paso to the best of our capabilities while providing a safe environment for our residents as well as for our employees.”

For any inquiries, please contact us via telephone at (915) 849-3742 or via email at PIO@HACEP.org.

HACEP is currently experiencing an increased volume of calls and emails due to the offices being closed, but staff will be answering all calls and will provide assistance on how to register on the waiting list.

***

***Gov. Abbott signs order, travelers from New York area or New Orleans must self quarantine for 2 weeks (3/26/2020)

On Thursday afternoon Governor Greg Abbott announced a new executive order requiring those who travel back from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or the City of New Orleans.

Travelers will be required to stay within their mandated quarantine location for 14 days or the duration of their stay in Texas – whichever is shorter.  Additionally, no one from the general population would be allowed to enter the quarantine area, unless they are a licensed medical professional.

Abbott said the regions had become ‘hot spots’ for the virus and that the steps were necessary to “get out in front of COVID-19.”

The order only applies to airway travel, travelers driving into the state are not subject to the mandatory quarantine.  Officials added that violating the quarantine order would be punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or 180 days in jail.

Also during the news conference Abbott shared that over the previous seven days, nearly 16,000 Texas residents had been tested, with almost 1,500 of those testing positive.   He added that of those who tested positive, just over 100 people had been hospitalized, the rest were quarantined in their homes.

As of the time of his news conference, there have been 18 deaths related to the Coronavirus.

To view Governor Abbott’s news conference, click here (courtesy NBC News)

***

***DPS Limits Public Access to Buildings Due to COVID-19, Business Operations Still Remain Open (3/26/2020)

In response to COVID-19, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is limiting public access to department facilities to protect the public and our employees, promote social distancing and do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Despite limited physical access to our buildings, DPS remains open for business and continues to provide essential services to Texans as our employees conduct operations remotely; therefore, the public should experience minimal impact from this temporary change.

The department encourages the public to contact us by phone or email, and utilize our online services when available.

UPDATES TO SERVICES PROVIDED IN LIGHT OF COVID-19 CLOSURES:

Driver License Services: Last week, DPS was directed to extend the expiration date of Texas identification cards (ID), driver licenses (DL), commercial DLs (CDL) and election identification certificates (EIC), as well as close DL offices.

The temporary closure does not impact those seeking an initial CDL. Contact the DL team for CDL appointment information.

With regard to the extension, this means that if your Texas DL/CDL/ID/EIC card expires on or after March 13, 2020, it falls under the period that encompasses the State of Disaster Declaration related to COVID-19 and will remain valid for 60 days after which time DPS issues public notice that the extension period for this disaster declaration has been lifted. Many Texans are eligible to conduct their DL transactions online. We encourage you to check your eligibility today.

For more information about DL services and possible impacts related to COVID-19, click here.

  • Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST): While many FAST locations remain open and continue to take appointments, some FAST locations are housed in facilities that have been closed by local authorities. Other than some site closures, the only other change to FAST location services in response to COVID-19 pertains to the location at 108 Denson Drive in Austin; this location previously accepted walk-ins and has transitioned to appointments only to help reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 and meet social distancing requirements.
  • Regulatory ServicesIf an individual is applying for or renewing a License to Carry (LTC) permit or a Private Security License, DPS continues to operate our regulatory services as normal. However, it is important to note that some of the required components for these types of licenses come from the private sector (for example: FAST fingerprinting services, LTC training courses), which are outside of our control. If you have questions regarding these services, contact our Regulatory Services team.

Resources for how to contact the department and the latest information surrounding our COVID-19 response can be found on our website at www.dps.texas.gov.

***

***Canutillo ISD distributes electronic devices to students (3/26/2020)

The Canutillo Independent School District will be distributing electronic devices to families Thursday March 26 and Friday March 27. Parents will be contacted by their campus for distribution details.
The district’s online learning program will begin March 30.
As the district deals with the effects of this pandemic and school closures, it is distributing one electronic device per family who does not have either a home computer, laptop or tablet at home.
“Our online learning curriculum maintains rigor and stimulating lessons to engage students in a home setting,” said Dr. Pedro Galaviz, Canutillo ISD Superintendent of Schools. “We have observed that teachers and parents are now working even closer together to advance learning opportunities for our students. We do not view this approach as a mere stopgap measure, but as an effective vehicle for innovative teaching and learning.”
CISD staff will be at the campuses to help maintain social distancing and asks the public to comply with those guidelines as well. The distribution of devices is allowed under the recently enacted City of El Paso Stay Home, Work Safe rule.

***

***Rapier Family Donates $1 Million To Feed Nearly 6K older adults in Texas, Florida (3/26/2020)

Philanthropists Kym and Dr. George Rapier have donated $1 million to the WellMed Charitable Foundation, which will award grants to local Meals on Wheels programs in Texas, Florida and New Mexico that will feed nearly 6,000 older adults.

A total of 5,849 older adults, many of them homebound seniors, are on a wait list in 14 communities in Texas and Florida for the Meals on Wheels program. The urgent need to serve this population is growing as older adults are asked to stay home as much as possible in light of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus.

The $1 million from the Rapiers and their non-profit organization Kym’s Angels Fund will allow Meals on Wheels to deliver more than 175,000 healthy, hot meals to this often under-served population for up to six weeks.

Grants to local Meals on Wheels program are being distributed through the non-profit WellMed Charitable Foundation.

Dr. Rapier is founder, chairman and CEO of WellMed Medical Management, Inc., a growing health care company that provides medical care and ancillary health care services to more than 640,000 adults in Texas and Florida. His wife Kym Rapier is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who serves as chief executor of the Rapier Family Foundation and its related funding charities.

The non-profit WellMed Charitable Foundation, which Dr. Rapier co-founded, is the philanthropic partner of WellMed. The Foundation supports caregivers and older adults in the communities that WellMed serves in Texas and Florida.

“I founded WellMed nearly 30 years ago to find a better way to deliver care to older adults,” Dr. Rapier said. “But we quickly realized that truly improving health care goes well beyond the services we provide in the exam room. It involves overcoming barriers that can keep this population from getting well and staying well, such as lack of transportation, education and nutrition.”

“But these grants will run out all too soon. Kym and I want to challenge other corporations, businesses and foundations to step up and support their local Meals on Wheels programs, food banks and other worthy charities that provide much-needed services to the communities where we live, work and play. We all must do our part to keep food on the table and eliminate hunger.”

Food insecurity among older adults is a growing concern, with more and more older adults being forced to choose between buying groceries and paying for essential prescription medication or the utility bill. That wrenching reality means some seniors go days without a meal.

According to Feeding America’s State of Senior Hunger in 2017 report, released in 2019, 5.5 million adults age 60 and older across the United States suffer from food insecurity, representing 7.7 percent of the population. The problem is worse among older adults in Texas (10.5 percent) and Florida (8.4 percent).

Hunger rates among this population spiked by 45 percent since 2001. At the current rate, the 8 million seniors may be considered food insecure by the year 2050.

“As a national association with members serving some 4 million older adults with congregate and home-delivered meals, we salute the generosity of the Rapier family and WellMed. This is the kind of tangible philanthropy we need more of in our nation,” said Bob Blancato, executive director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Service programs, a leading advocacy non-profit organization for older adults based in Washington D.C.

“A recently release report by the Government Accountability Office noted that more than half of all programs serving home-delivered meals have waiting lists, which can contribute to not only hunger but later malnutrition. Eliminating these waiting lists for up to six weeks will be a lifeline for these older adults, while providing an opportunity for the programs to find additional funding.”

The WellMed Charitable Foundation is making food insecurity among older adults the major focus of its efforts in 2020, with plans to announce more grants to local charities from WellMed employee donations in the coming months.

Here are the Meals on Wheels programs receiving grants:

Texas

  • El Paso (and Las Cruces, N.M.): City of Las Cruces

o   $15,000 – 3,000 meals

  • Austin: Meals on Wheels of Central Texas

o   $70,200 – 14,040 meals

  • Corpus Christi: City of  Corpus Christi Senior Services Division

o   $69,150 – 13,830 meals

  • Dallas: VNA Texas

o   $60,000 – 12,000 meals

  • Fort Worth: Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County

o   $10,000 – 2,000  meals

  • Rio Grande Valley: Amigos del Valle

o   $286,280 – 57,256 meals

  • San Antonio: Meals on Wheels of San Antonio

o   $60,000 – 12,000 meals

***

***Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans & Their Families During COVID-19 (3/26/2020)

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics at Endeavors in El Paso, as well as San Antonio and Killeen, have adapted to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, by continuing to provide support through virtual appointments.

All three clinics are part of Cohen Veterans Network, a national not for profit organization serving veterans and military families via 15 clinics across the country.

Post-9/11 Veterans, including National Guard and Reserves, as well as military family members, can fulfill their mental health care appointments for depression, anxiety, PTSD, sleep problems, etc. via face-to-face video therapy, known as Telehealth. This service is easily accessible through a smartphone, tablet, or computer and will be utilized until further notice.

“We are proud to offer Telehealth to support not only our Veterans but their family members,” said Endeavors President & CEO, Jon Allman, “Telehealth is confidential and highly-effective.”

Clients also have access to case management support and local referrals to help with other stresses like unemployment, finances, housing, and legal issues. Each clinic is developing ways to provide online support groups and community events and will provide updates on social media: @CohenClinicSA, @CohenClinicEP, @CohenClinicKN.

To schedule a Telehealth appointment, please contact the clinics:

El Paso 915-320-1390 or EPclinic@endeavors.org

San Antonio 210-399-4838 or SAclinic@endeavors.org

Killeen 254-213-7847 or KNclinic@endeavors.org

To find out more about Telehealth, click here or call 833-CVN-VETS.

***

***Fort Bliss announces 7 confirmed of Coronavirus cases (3/25/2020)

During a Wednesday night virtual town hall, led by Garrison Commander Col. Stewart James, officials announced that the post now had a total of seven Coronavirus cases.

During his portion of the town hall, Col. Matthew Eichberg the coroanvirus cases included four reservists from New York, as well as two civilian employees, one other person.  Col. Eichberg added they were all in isolation.

Also announced during the streamed town hall was that the post was on a heightened level of security – “HPCON Charlie – short for Health Protection Condition. HPCON Charlie is the second highest alert the post can operate under; the highest, most restrictive level being HPCON Delta.

According to the Department of Defense, HPCON Charlie indicates “substantial risk and sustained community transmission of the COVID-19 disease.”

As part of the new restrictions, both the Underwood Golf Course, as well as the Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club were closed. Fort Bliss officials also released a graphic, outlining the changes and cancellations.

***

***Health officials confirm city’s coronavirus count now at 21 (3/25/2020)

During a Wednesday afternoon news conference, El Paso Department of Public Health’s Dr. Hector Ocaranza announced that the city now has 21 cases of Coronavirus, up from 12 on Tuesday.

Dr. Ocaranza added that most of the new patients are between 30 and 50 years of age.  The new total does not include the 4 soldiers at Fort Bliss who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials added that approximately 100 COVID-19 tests had been performed by the City’s Department of Public Health since Monday.

Also during the news conference, officials strongly urged El Pasoans to follow the city’s day old ‘Stay Home, Work Safe’ order.

“Social distancing continues to be a major concern even in the wake of public health orders for residents to Stay Home, Work Safe. Those who leave home should do so by themselves and avoid bringing children or seniors with them. As they make their way in the community they should also maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.”

Covering your cough, avoid touching your face, practicing regular handwashing, and cleaning common areas with disinfectant continue to be stressed. Local public health officials also want the public to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms don’t improve they should call their doctor.

The public is reminded that COVID-19 is not an airborne disease like measles. It is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.

Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization. However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.

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

Age Range Number of Cases
Teens 2
20s 4
30s 4
40s 4
50s 2
60s 4
70s 1

The 2-1-1 Texas Call Center is available 24/7. Callers can dial 2-1-1 and select option six for more information. Additionally, the COVID-19 hotline will be operational from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

***

***IDEA Public Schools to distribute meals to any students in the area (3/25/2020)

Officials with IDEA Public Schools El Paso announced Wednesday afternoon the expansion of their free meal pick up to all area students.

Everyday, El Paso continues to show their generosity and commitment to families, IDEA Public Schools has stepped up and is meeting the needs of the community.

To help support students during this school closure, curbside meal service will be provided at every IDEA campus to students 18 years old and younger, regardless if they are or are not an IDEA Public Schools student.

Breakfast and lunch are available Mondays-Fridays for pickup from 7:00 am to 10:00 am.

Students 18 years old or younger must be present to receive their meals. 2515 free meals have been served so far in El Paso

Visit IDEA Public Schools 3 Locations at:

IDEA Mesa Hills, 405 Wallenberg Dr, El Paso, TX 79912

IDEA Edgemere, 15101 Edgemere Blvd, El Paso, TX 79938

IDEA Rio Vista, 210 N Rio Vista Rd, Socorro, TX 79927

For more information about IDEA Public Schools, visit them on Facebook and on the web.

***

***Curbside iPad distribution starts in EPISD Thursday (3/25/2020)

The El Paso Independent School District will begin distributing iPads to families who do not have a computer or device in anticipation of the launch of EPISD@HOME, the District’s distance-learning program during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) related campus closures.

One iPad will be given to any family with elementary-school students who does not have either a home computer, laptop or tablet at home. Students must be present at the time of distribution and parents must present the child’s student identification number.

Distribution will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 26; Friday, March 27; and Monday March 30 at every elementary school in the District.

EPISD staff at school locations will maintain social distancing and asks the public to comply with those guidelines as well. The distribution of devices is allowed under the recently enacted City of El Paso Stay Home, Work Safe rule.

Please note that the distribution is for elementary-school students only. Middle- and high-school students have a District-issued MacBook Air.

Given the limited amounts of devices in stock, families will be limited to one iPad. Families who have personal laptops, desktops or tablets are asked not to pick up a District iPad in order to help EPISD meet the demand for those in need.

Each campus will have a limited supply of devices. More distribution dates will be announced when new devices arrive in the District.

***

***Paso del Norte Health Foundation launches COVID-19 Information Hub  (3/25/2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every facet of daily life. To help answer questions related to those changes, many of which will be long lasting, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation is launching the El Paso COVID-19 Information Hub.

The website at EPcovid19.org.

“While the local health response to the COVID-19 pandemic is being led by the City of El Paso Department of Public Health in partnership with the Office of Emergency Management, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation created the El Paso COVID-19 Information Hub to serve as a community center of local resources which can help you and your family navigate this new normal, including information for parents, veterans, employers, employees and others,” said Tracy J. Yellen, CEO of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.

Organizations wishing to submit information about resources that they have available should visit EPcovid19.org and click on the “Submit Community Resources” button in the upper right corner.

Additionally, non-profit organizations in the region can share their needs for in-kind donations. Information will be updated on the site once moderators have approved it.

“The Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s vision is to ensure that the people of our region have the knowledge, resources, support and environment to live happy, healthy and productive lives,” Yellen said. “We encourage our community to use this site not only to get information but to share information with others.”

***

***Salvation Army asking for community’s help as demand rises for assistance (3/25/2020)

With the COVID-19 pandemic increasing rapidly in communities throughout the state, The Salvation Army of El Paso has significantly amplified its efforts to diminish the spread of the virus and ensure critical service, especially among the homeless and other vulnerable populations.

Requests for service have risen and a further spike is expected in the next few weeks and months. While services remain in place for the most vulnerable citizens, such as the homeless and others living near the poverty level, many people who have been able to pay their way prior to this outbreak may now face extreme difficulties due to mandated business closings. Countless residents now have no income and are in need of financial assistance.

“We are already seeing the effects and expect that to grow signifantly as this situation plays out,” said Major Florian Estrada of The Salvation Army. “So many people living with extremely tight budgets aren’t able to skip just one paycheck, much less weeks or months without pay. They are turning to us for help.”

The Salvation Army provides service to individuals and families in every zip code in the state and is working diligently to ensure people have access to food, shelter, and desperately needed services like housing and utility assistance.

In El Paso this includes preventive measures to protect our clients, volunteers and staff. Although our space is currently limited, our Family Shelter remains open and rooms are available for families, single women and men.

Our Social Services caseworkers are working diligently and continuing to provide services to our community from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Our pantry is distributing food boxes Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and our soup kitchen is distributing to go dinners at 6:00 pm daily.

The extra need is daunting, particularly due to the nature of the virus, which has caused the postponement or cancellation of numerous Salvation Army fundraising events, many that had been scheduled for the spring.

“There is a concern that the effect of this unprecedented event could be felt for years,” Estrada said. “We want to be here to provide basic needs to those we already serve and to have plenty for the new generation of need caused by this virus.”

Public support is essential, maybe moreso now than anytime in recent history.

“If those able are willing to help those who are in need, our state and nation will likely rise out of this devastating situation more quickly with fewer residual effects on the men, women and children suffering right now,” Estrada said. “The Salvation Army is committed to serving those who need our help, and we are thankful for generous public support that allows us to do so. We don’t want to turn anyone in need away, and the only way we can accomplish this is through generous public support.”

Donations also will help ensure the safety of those who depend on Salvation Army programs and services, along with the safety of staff and volunteers. The organization is working with health officials at the local, state, and federal levels.

In El Paso, The Salvation Army is working in close partnership with FEMA, CDC, DHW, and HHS.

To contribute to The Salvation Army’s efforts in your community, click here.

***

***EPWater temporarily suspends sandbag distribution (3/25/2020)

In the interest of social distancing and limiting in-person interactions due to international concern about Coronavirus (COVID-19), El Paso Water is temporarily suspending sandbag distribution until further notice.

The sandbag distribution site at 4801 Fred Wilson is closed, and the opening of satellite distribution sites are on hold until further notice.

“We are doing everything in our power to protect the health of both our employees and customers,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew.

***

***YISD launches new Health Hotline to answer COVID-19 questions (3/25/2020)

To help support our community in these unprecedented times and ease anxiety among families, the Ysleta Independent School District launched its new Health Hotline Wednesday to answer questions regarding COVID-19, in cooperation with the city health department.

Ysleta ISD administration has worked with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health since Monday to establish the new hotline, which connects callers with one of 61 Ysleta ISD nurses working from home who have been trained to provide information about the Coronavirus Disease in both English and Spanish.

The Ysleta ISD Health Hotline number is 915-434-1092, and it will be available for calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

All Ysleta ISD parents and community members are encouraged to call the hotline with any questions they may have regarding COVID-19, which has prompted all El Paso-area school districts to temporarily shutter their campuses.

District officials say they’re hopeful this new hotline will not only assist in easing parent and community anxiety regarding the Coronavirus Disease, but provide much-needed support to city and county health officials in disseminating up-to-date information on the disease.

The Ysleta ISD Health Hotline launches just one day after the city health department announced its new Coronavirus Hotline, which can be accessed by calling 915-21-COVID – or 915-212-6843 – from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

This city hotline allows the 2-1-1 Texas call center to instead focus on referrals to services for those impacted by business closures and unemployment, officials said.

In addition to announcing the new city hotline Tuesday, the city and county of El Paso issued a “Stay Home, Work Safe” Order that directs the public to remain at their residence except to obtain essential services, or engage in essential activities/work for essential business/government services.

***

***Five additional cases of Coronavirus found in El Paso  (3/24/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported a total of 12 positive cases within the County of El Paso.

As the number of tests conducted by private laboratories increase, the City of El Paso will only report out El Paso County positive cases. This number will not include Fort Bliss cases.

The public is reminded that COVID-19 is not an airborne disease like measles. It is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.

Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization. However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.

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

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) COVID-19 hotline (915) 212-6843 or (915) 21-COVID is available for questions.  The hotline will be operational from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

2-1-1 Texas Call Center will focus on referrals to services for those impacted by business closures and unemployment.

***

***City offers drive thru COVID-19 Sample Collection to residents with Doctor’s Orders (3/24/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH), the Border Regional Advisory Council (BorderRAC), and other public health partners are collecting specimens to test for COVID-19.

Samples are being collected for first responders, healthcare workers, and patients with a doctor’s order. Only those members of the community who have met the testing criteria and obtained a doctor’s order for testing will be allowed entrance. The ordering doctor will schedule an appointment for the drive-thru collection site for the patient.

Local doctors and clinics that cannot collect specimens for testing have already begun to use this system.

“We are implementing a system so people who do not need emergency room care can be sampled and tested while not overwhelming the healthcare system,” said Wanda Helgesen, BorderRAC Executive Director.

To read the entire story, CLICK HERE.

***

***Two UTEP Employees Test Positive for COVID-19 (3/24/2020)

On Tuesday, March 24, two male employees of The University of Texas at El Paso tested positive for COVID-19. The employees traveled to an out-of-town event and returned to El Paso on Thursday, March 12.

Both employees are in self isolation and recovering at home.

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

One of the employees had limited access into the Foster Stevens Basketball Center and the Larry K. Durham Sports Center on March 13. Both facilities have been isolated and have been cleaned regularly with disinfectant.

The following are recommendations to stay safe:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash immediately after use.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask

For the latest updates on the University’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit UTEP’s coronavirus page.

***

*** YISD expands hours of drive-through meal service (3/24/2020)

In order to better serve our community during the weeks of school closure, the Ysleta Independent School District has expanded the hours of its drive-through meal service at 14 select campuses, where parents/guardians may pull up to the schools to receive meals for all eligible children under 18 who are present inside the vehicle.

Effective Wednesday, March 25, both breakfast and lunch meals for children will be distributed curbside to children inside vehicles that arrive between the expanded hours of 7:30 to 11 a.m. on weekdays at the following 14 campuses:

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

In these first two days of the drive-through meal service, Ysleta ISD employees provided more than 13,000 breakfast and lunch meals at all 14 sites.

During the weeks of school closure, Ysleta ISD remains committed to assisting its families in accordance with city and county health officials and directives, and will continue to monitor all developments regarding COVID-19 as it relates to the Ysleta ISD community.

***

*** EPISD meal distribution continues through Stay Home, Work Safe rule (3/24/2020)

Meal preparation and distribution will continue thru the mandatory ‘Stay Home, Work Safe’ period here in El Paso.

“Families are allowed to leave their home to pick up meals and then head back home to eat them,” EPISD officials shared. “Meals are passed out from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with our employees are practicing social distancing to make sure they’re as safe as possible.”

***

***EPISD to pay subs, temps during school closures (3/24/2020)

The El Paso Independent School District approved new guidelines that will allow payments to be made to substitute teachers and temporary employees during the COVID-19 related school closures.

Trustees on Tuesday approved a resolution drafted by the administration that will give substitutes and temporary employees who have worked with the District since at least Jan. 1, 2020 some compensation.

“We are happy to be able to provide this peace of mind for our subs and temporary employees during these uncertain times,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “As one of the largest employers in the city, this move will have a positive impact on the financial
wellbeing of El Pasoans as they brace themselves against the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. “We hope this bring some comfort and relief.”

EPISD policies already allowed the compensation of its salaried and hourly employees under emergency guidelines. However, payment to non-permanent employees like substitutes and temps required Board approval and administrative review.

Under the plan, substitutes and temps will receive twice-a-month compensation that average their earnings from EPISD in January and February in 15-day increments.

This payment option will be in place only during the time the District is closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

***

*** City, County officials announce mandatory ‘Stay Home -Work Safe’ order for area, goes into effect at 11:59P Tuesday EVENING

In an ongoing effort to suppress the spread of COVID-19, the City and the County of El Paso have issued a “Stay Home, Work Safe” Order for the area that will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, and be in effect until further notice.

El Paso City Mayor Dee Margo, El Paso County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego and Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza announced Tuesday morning the details of the new joint City-County order.

The order, the most stringent measures local officials have taken so far to address the worldwide public health crisis, is directing the public to remain at their residence except to obtain essential services or engage in essential activities and work for essential business and government services.

“We must protect the health and safety of this community. We cannot wait until it is too late, so we must continue working to stay ahead of the wave of cases and help flatten the curve by suppression of this virus,” said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. “It is very important that residents and businesses cooperate to make this effort as successful as possible to keep our community healthy.”

“We are committed to keeping this community safe and healthy. While the effort is aggressive, there is no question that it will be effective in limiting COVID-19 exposure to the public,” said County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego. “We all must realize that our actions and inactions could have a lasting effect on the entire the community, this order will help ensure positive outcomes for the health of El Paso.”

The order applies to everyone in El Paso County to work safe and stay home with the exceptions of essential businesses and activities; to include but not limited to emergency personnel, healthcare personnel, groceries, financial, critical trades, postal services, food delivery or pick-up, home-based care, childcare, and those performing essential government functions.

The order will continue until further notice and those who are found violating it could face a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or be jailed for up to 180 days. To report non-compliance, please email COVIDCompliance@elpasotexas.gov.

For more information, visit www.EPStrong.orgRead the complete order belowStay Home, Work Safe Order

***

***  UTEP issues letter regarding remote work for Student Employees (3/24/2020)

Miner Student Employees & Supervisors,

Due to ongoing developments with COVID-19 and changes in UTEP campus operations, a number of you likely have questions about how student workers will be affected, especially those who depend on university paychecks to cover their college expenses.

The health and well-being of our Miner community and the academic progress of our students are our top concerns, and we recognize that financial stability is an important element of student success.

As UTEP transitions to a remote workforce, we want to provide our student workers as much flexibility as possible to continue working. To that end, both student employees and supervisors should follow these guidelines:

  • Supervisors should enable student employees for remote work, exercising their full ability to flexibly identify activities, tasks and mechanisms for that work. We have provided some useful resources to help supervisors consider and develop various alternatives that are suitable for work assignments during the remote working period.
  • When working remotely, the student must have a Temporary Remote Work Agreement Form on file with their supervisor. This form can be found on the UTEP Temporary Remote Work Policy webpage.
  • To cover any gaps regarding their remote work options, student employees are empowered to work on their professional development. The Office of Human Resources has compiled a list of Online Professional Development Resources that can be accessed anytime from anywhere.

For students who have not yet done so, please contact your supervisor regarding your work assignment, completing your Temporary Remote Work Agreement, and with any questions you may have.  Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time.

Best,

Mark McGurk
Vice President for Business Affairs

***

*** Planning and Inspections Notice City Departments Take Precautions Amid Coronavirus Concerns (3/24/2020)

In light of the “Stay Home, Work Safe” Order the Planning and Inspections Department, is taking a series of measures to protect employees and customers.

The department is temporarily limiting in-person interactions with customers to minimize the spread of the highly contagious disease.  Effective immediately the One-Stop Shop will temporarily close to walk-in customers.

Staff will continue to be available to receive and return calls, make appointments, and respond to emails. All contractor registrations expiring between now and April 30, 2020 will be automatically extended without penalty, provided bond and general liability documentation or up-to-date or are submitted via email.

Planning and Inspections will be accepting and processing applications and other development related documents by email and/or regular mail or electronic submittal. Meetings will be conducted via conference calls and/or webex/skype.

Customers are encouraged to visit the website to pay online or submit plans, or to learn how to use these online services. Customers may also use the Build El Paso Inspection App, available for iOS or Android users, or IVR to schedule inspections by calling (915)-313-6100.

***

*** Environmental Services Department COVID-19 Related Service Changes (3/24/2020)

Effective immediately, the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department (ESD) will only pickup household waste placed inside gray bins on collection days.

Previously for a small fee the department allowed customers to dispose of extra household trash by bagging the extra waste and placing the bagged waste on the curb next to their gray bins on their collection day.

To protect ESD drivers and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, the department is no longer allowing drivers to exit their vehicles to collect the extra, bagged trash placed on the curb.

CUSTOMERS SHOULD AVOID PLACING EXTRA BAGGED TRASH ON THE CURB. ONLY TRASH PLACED INSIDE A GRAY TRASH BIN WILL BE COLLECTED.

ESD reminds customers that all trash placed inside gray trash bins should bagged to prevent the waste from falling out of the bin.

For more information, please go online.

***

***TTUHSC El Paso Student with COVID-19 Self-Isolating  (3/24/2020)

We’ve been informed that a Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso student has contracted coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) while traveling in California. The student has been self-isolating in El Paso and has not been on the TTUHSC El Paso campus or in any affiliated clinics since their return to El Paso.

TTUHSC El Paso leadership is in direct communication with the student to help them through this challenging time. Our top priority remains focused on the safety and security of our campus community.

We encourage everyone to engage in proper sanitary practices such as frequently washing their hands, and cleaning surfaces in which they come into frequent contact. We also encourage everyone to practice smart social-distancing practices, such as maintaining a six-foot distance between individuals and avoiding large gatherings.

The El Paso Department of Public Health is also communicating with our student and the people they were in contact with.

For more information about TTUHSC El Paso’s response to COVID-19, click here.

***

***City Offers New Hotline to Field COVID-19 Questions (3/24/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is now offering information about COVID-19 via (915) 212-6843 or (915) 21-COVID.

The hotline will be operational effective immediately from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

This new system will allow the 2-1-1 Texas call center to focus on referrals to services for those impacted by business closures and unemployment.

“This new hotline will be focused on answering questions about the disease itself and critical information regarding the COVID-19 impact to the members of our community,” said Ruth Castillo, DPH Preparedness Manager.

Local call takers will be up-to-date with information tailored to the El Paso Region. Callers will have the option to speak to someone in either English or Spanish and a language line is also available to translate more than 240 languages via this new number.

For more information, visit www.EPStrong.org.

***

***El Paso County Sheriff’s Office issues new guidelines regarding contact with citizens (3/24/2020)

In accordance with the Stay Home, Work Safe order by County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will implement the following changes to limit Sheriff’s Office personnel/Citizen contact.

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY

Online Reporting

Calls for service received that are not “in progress” and do not require a Deputy to be on scene, will be referred to complete their reports online. Reports can be filed Online.

Fingerprinting

Members of the public who require fingerprints are asked to adhere to these hours and plan accordingly. Walk-ins for this purpose are no longer permitted.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (noon).
Location: 3850 Justice Dr., El Paso, TX 79938.

Office of Evidence and Property/ Abandoned Motor Vehicle Section

The Sheriff’s Office is requesting citizens to contact the Office via telephone when asking to retrieve any personal property currently in Sheriff’s Office possession. This would specifically be any property or vehicle that has been stored by the Sheriff’s Office for either evidence or safekeeping.

Members of the public are encouraged to contact the following numbers to make an appointment to retrieve their property and/or vehicle. Walk-ins for this purpose will not be permitted at this time.

Public Affairs – 3850 Justice Dr. El Paso, Texas 79938 – www.EPCSO.org 

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Evidence and Property Section

The public should call 915-538-2283 to schedule an appointment.
The hours of retrieval are: Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Location: 3850 Justice Dr., El Paso, TX 79938.

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Abandoned Motor Vehicle Section

The public should call 915-538-2007 to schedule an appointment.
The hours of retrieval are: Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Location: 12501 Montana Ave. Unit F., El Paso, TX 79938.

***

***2020 Spaceport America Cup Cancelled  (3/24/2020)

Spaceport America and the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA) have made the difficult decision to cancel the fourth annual Spaceport America Cup that was scheduled for June 16 – 20, 2020 at Spaceport America.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was made based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for canceling large events in order to keep the students, spectators and sponsors safe and healthy. The event was set to engage over 1,700 college students from 17 countries on a week- long rocket design and launch competition.

“Having groups of students working together to build their team’s rocket is contrary to the COVID-19 protocol released by the CDC, and the State of New Mexico’s proactive leadership on this issue,” explained Dan Hicks, CEO of Spaceport America. “As much as we looked forward to having 154 universities participate, it is not the appropriate course of action at this time.”

“We are aware that this is incredibly disappointing news for the students, the universities, the communities of Sierra and Doña Ana Counties and our sponsors,” Hicks added. “It is important that the students respect and abide by their state and country guidelines for the health and safety of all.”

Last year, the 2019 Spaceport America Cup had 124 teams, 1,500 students, and representatives from 14 countries. The University of Washington took first place in the Spaceport America Cup, and the University of New Mexico won the inaugural Spaceport America Chile Cup.

Information on the 2021 Spaceport America Cup and possible actions with the 2020 Cup will be available at via this link.

***

***TTUHSC El Paso talks breaking the chain of infection: Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 (3/24/2020)

The main ways the public can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are at the personal level, said Armando Meza, M.D., chief of infectious diseases and associate academic dean of graduate medical education at the TTUHSC El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

This includes hand washing, social distancing, self-quarantines and preparing your home for possible COVID-19 exposure.

One of the simplest ways people can help prevent the virus’ spread is by thoroughly washing their hands.

“If you’re going to wash your hands with soap and water, you can use regular soap and tap water,” Dr. Meza said. “You want to spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands and covering all the surfaces as much as possible. When you dry your hands, use a dry towel or paper towel, making sure that all surfaces are dry before you touch any object. It is important that once you have shut off the faucet, or anything on the sink, that you don’t touch those surfaces again, as they may be contaminated.”

Another way people can reduce the possibility of infection is through social distancing.

“Social distancing is the action government health departments take in asking the public to avoid exposure to an infectious agent,” Dr. Meza said. “That includes limiting activities that are not essential to our lives. We may be invited or given the opportunity to go places with a large gathering of people. If we avoid that, it would be very helpful.”

Self-quarantine measures will become necessary if a person has been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19. Self-quarantine is the voluntary isolation, usually at home, of a person after potential exposure to an infectious agent. An example is staying home after returning from a trip to a high-risk country classified as a Travel Warning Level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Two weeks is currently the recommended time to self-quarantine,” Dr. Meza said. “To stay in quarantine, essentials such as water, food and personal-care items should be available during this time period. In your home, stay away from any family members that may be at high risk for severe infection, such as the elderly or anyone with lung or heart disease.”

Dr. Meza emphasizes that preparedness on a personal level is key.

“Most importantly, stay educated on this condition by regularly reviewing reliable information found on the CDC website,” Dr. Meza said. “Avoid overstocking of supplies, since this will create a shortage crisis in the community. You should also keep your home clean, especially your kitchen and bathroom. Use of commercially available antimicrobial towels and sprays is appropriate.”

For more information on COVID-19, answers to frequently asked questions and helpful resources, visit TTUHSC El Paso’s COVID-19 website.

***

***Capstone Production’s Heritage Gold TV  series on El Paso history now available free, online. (3/24/2020)

Capstone Productions has announced that the Heritage Gold TV series has been released to the public for free viewing via the El Paso History TV YouTube page , providing a valuable educational and entertaining resource for children and adults during the coronavirus emergency.

“El Paso history is free on our YouTube channel, with more than 120 TV programs and segments about El Paso history,” said Jackson Polk, producer of the history segments. “We worked for two decades to produce our very popular DVDs about El Paso history that were sold in stores. Now is the time to make them available for home schooling and general viewing at no cost to the public.”

The free release of the TV documentaries will provide a fun, entertaining and educational way for El Pasoans to learn about their hometown’s rich history and cultural heritage, topics that are not generally taught in public schools. Most adults do not know about El Paso history, and this will be a time to join their children in learning about the amazing history of El Paso over the centuries.

PODCASTS FREE ONLINE

There is more history to access for free from the archives of “The El Paso History Radio Show” online at www.EPHistory.com .  The radio shows airs live each Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon on KTSM AM 690. The archived podcasts are free for listening, with a wide range of topics covering history in the El Paso area.

VIDEO PLAYLIST

Click here  for the video playlists.  Titles include “Legends of El Paso’s Mountains,” “El Paso’s Hueco Tanks,” “Gunfights of the Old West,” “Mexican Revolution Sites in El Paso,” for a dozen Heritage Gold titles online. There are also 16 “El Paso History TV” segments that were broadcast in El Paso.  More documentary programs will be announced every few days in the next six weeks.

RADIO SHOW PODCASTS

Go to www.EPHistory.com for the radio show archives.

***

***City: Coronavirus cases now at 10 (3/23/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) reported its seventh positive case for the County of El Paso. This latest case involves a woman in her 50s who has domestic travel history. She is currently self-isolating and recovering at home.

Three additional individuals were tested elsewhere, but reside in El Paso. The individuals are currently self-isolating and recovering at home bringing the total of El Paso residents with COVID-19 to ten people.

The Public Health Laboratory, which conducts tests for the region, has tested approximately 123 specimen as of Sunday, March 22.

The laboratory reported one positive test for a person residing in New Mexico, and has advised the New Mexico Department of Health. Fort Bliss conducts and declares its own tests for COVID-19.

The public is reminded that COVID-19 is not an airborne disease like measles. It is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.

Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization. However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.

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

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

***

***UTEP offers Computer Technology Financial Support (3/23/2020)

As you are already aware, beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, all courses for the spring semester will move to remote online delivery. We understand that this transition to online learning may be a burden for some students who do not have access to a computer at home. The following two programs may help.

  • If you are a student who received financial aid for either the fall 2019 or spring 2020 semester(s) and do not currently own a computer, there may be grant assistance to help you purchase a computer, internet hotspot, or tablet so that you can access your classes and course materials. Please email a request for this grant support to: studentfinancialaid@utep.edu. Be sure to include your full name, UTEP ID#, and a reliable phone number. We will contact you regarding your eligibility for grant assistance.
  • If you are not currently receiving financial aid, but still need assistance to purchase a computer, the Paydirt Emergency Loan Program is available to assist students. The maximum loan amount is $500. You can apply for this loan by emailinggchairez@utep.edu to request your personalized online application link.

All of us at UTEP remain committed to ensuring that every student finishes the semester without disrupting their educational progress. If you have any questions, please call the Office of Student Financial Aid at 915-747-5204.

***

***Workforce Solutions Borderplex Closes All Centers – Virtual Services Continue (3/23/2020)

In response to concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Workforce Solutions Borderplex (WSB) announces that all job centers will be closing effective Tuesday, March 24th.

All centers will be closed to the public and resource rooms will no longer be available for internet, printing and computer access.

WSB is still eager to assist with case management and job assistance, but all support will be handled virtually.  For more information, please call 915-887-2600 or visit the WSB resource website for continuous updates online.

Jobseekers should register at Work in Texas by creating a profile and then searching and applying for jobs at www.WorkInTexas.com.

WSB offers a Workforce Guidance Video and Frequently Asked Questions download to assist those with questions. Click here to view the video or here to read the FAQ

***

***Local restaurateurs opens fund to assist food and beverage workers (3/23/2020)

Local food and beverage workers are among the first to be hurt by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But help is coming thanks to a group of local restaurateurs.

“Restaurants, bars and coffee shops are inherently social places, so guidance from health authorities to limit exposure to crowds and to practice social distancing hit us all hard,” said Maggie Asfahani, who owns Salt + Honey Bakery Café in Five Points.

“We were already hurting, but the executive order that restaurants close their dining rooms forced many restaurants, including mine, to temporarily close and lay off the employees who are the backbone of our business.”

Asfahani is leading a group of local service industry volunteers who have established the El Paso Food and Beverage Workers Fund within the Paso del Norte Community Foundation.

The fund will provide direct relief to food and beverage workers who have been laid off or are working significantly reduced hours due to a temporary closure as a result of the pandemic.

To read the entire story, click here.  To donate, visit this website.

***

*** City of Socorro closes lobbies to the public (3/23/2020)

The City of Socorro in cooperation with Governor Abbott & County Judge Ricardo Samaniego to combat the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be closing all City Lobbies & Offices to the public beginning Wednesday, March 25, 2020, until further notice.

The Public may receive assistance Monday through Friday 8 AM – 5 PM through:

The Socorro Municipal Court has suspended all courts until further notice, and all citations may be paid:

• Credit/Debit: Over the phone at (915) 872-8574
• Money Orders (include your contact information with Name, Phone

Number Address, and Citation Number) mailed to:

Municipal Courts
860 N. Rio Vista
Socorro, TX 79927

PLEASE CONTINUE TO REPORT EMERGENCIES BY CALLING 9-1-1 During this time all essential City services will continue to be provided.

Lastly, the City would like to remind everyone to stay safe by following the guidelines set in place by our health authorities. https://www.dshs.texas.gov
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html

***

***NM Gov issues statewide ‘stay-at-home’ order to start Tuesday, March 24th at 8a (3/23/2020)

Monday afternoon, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she issued an order that suspends operations of all businesses and non-profits that are deemed “non-essential.”  Below is the full order:

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced additional restrictions to disrupt the spread of the COVID-19 virus in New Mexico and instructed New Mexicans to remain in their homes or places of residence except for outings absolutely necessary for health, safety and welfare.

The order — to be issued by Secretary of Health Kathy Kunkel and effective 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 24 — closes all non-essential businesses, requiring 100 percent of the state’s non-essential workforce to work from home. As in other states that have enacted similar measures, there are exceptions pertaining to essential services for the preservation of health, safety and well-being.

“The only way for us to stop the spread of this virus is for New Mexicans to stop interacting with each other,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “New Mexicans must be crystal-clear on this point: Right now, every time you leave your house, you are putting yourself, your family and your community at risk. Only by distancing from one another, by remaining home except for essential or emergency travel, can we limit the spread of this virus to the point that it does not overwhelm New Mexico.

“This clearly exempts people who are part of the essential functions that must continue: The individuals providing meals for kids at our schools; the individuals working at health care facilities, child care facilities, public safety entities and many more. Those individuals are helping keep us operating — in a new and limited way. They deserve our profound gratitude.

“As we wait for the federal government to get states the help we need in expanding capacity and testing materials and financial assistance, staying home is the one action all of us, individually and as a group, can control,” the governor added. “Please stay home. Help protect New Mexico.”

Intended to aggressively limit person-to-person contact in the state, the amended emergency public health order closes all non-essential businesses except for remote work.

The order advises that New Mexicans “must stay at home and undertake only those outings absolutely necessary for their health, safety or welfare” and further restricts “mass gatherings” of five or more individuals in outdoor spaces.

“Does this order mean you cannot walk your dog? No. Does it mean you can’t go for a jog? No. But you should not do those things in a group — and you should be home as soon as possible,” the governor said. “This social isolation strategy will only work if we all undertake it to the greatest extent we can. That boils down to one thing: Stay home.”

Businesses deemed essential that may remain open are:

  • Health care operations including hospitals, walk-in-care health facilities, emergency veterinary and livestock services, pharmacies, medical wholesale and distribution, home health care workers or aides for the elderly, emergency dental facilities, nursing homes, residential health care facilities, research facilities, congregate care facilities, intermediate care facilities for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, supportive living homes, home health care providers, and medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers;
  • Homeless shelters, food banks, and other services providing care to indigent or needy populations;
  • Childcare facilities necessary to provide services to those workers employed by essential businesses and essential non-profit entities;
  • Grocery stores, all food and beverage stores, supermarkets, food banks, farmers’ markets and vendors who sell food, convenience stores, and other businesses that generate the majority of their revenue from the sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet food, feed, and other animal supply stores, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products;
  • Farms, ranches, and other food cultivation, processing, or packaging operations;
  • All facilities used by law enforcement personnel, first responders, firefighters, emergency management personnel, dispatch operators, and court personnel.
  • Infrastructure operations including, but not limited to, public works construction; commercial and residential facility construction and maintenance; airport operations; public transportation; airlines; taxis; private transportation providers; water, sewer, trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal; gas; electrical; oil drilling; oil refining; natural resources extraction or mining operations; nuclear material research and enrichment; those attendant to the repair and construction of roads and highways; solid waste collection and removal; processing and disposal; data and internet providers; data centers; and telecommunications systems;
  • Manufacturing operations involved in food processing, manufacturing agents, chemicals, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, household paper products, telecommunications, microelectronics/semi-conductor, primary metals manufacturers, machinery manufacturers, electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturers, and transportation equipment manufacturers;
  • Services necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences or essential businesses including security services, custodial services, plumbers, electricians, and other skilled trades;
  • Media services including television, radio, and newspaper operations;
  • Gas stations, automobile repair facilities, and retailers who generate the majority of their revenue from the sale of automobile repair products;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Laundromats and dry cleaner services;
  • Utilities, including their contractors and suppliers, engaged in power generation, fuel supply and transmission, water and wastewater supply;
  • Funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries;
  • Banks, credit unions, insurance providers, payroll services, brokerage services, and investment management firms;
  • Real estate services including brokers, title companies, and related services.
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
  • Laboratories and defense and national security-related operations supporting the United States government or a contractor to the United States government;
  • Restaurants, but only for delivery or carry out and local breweries or distilleries but only for carry out;
  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, but only where necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities; and
  • Logistics and businesses that store, ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences or retailers.

The order is in effect until April 10.  To view the news conference, click here.

***

***Sun Metro updates routes, boarding procedures (3/23/2020)

Effective Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Sun Metro will implement service modifications in response to COVID-19. The service modifications will remain in effect until further notice.

Service adjustments are as follows:

Fixed route service will operate on a Sunday schedule Monday through Saturday  with the addition of the following:

o   Routes 19, 43, 71, 73 will run on a Saturday schedule, Monday through Saturday.

o   Brio service (Mesa, Dyer, Alameda) will run on a Saturday schedule, Monday through Saturday.

o   Routes 3 and 42 will keep peak service hours, Monday through Friday.

o   Sunday service along with routes 83 and 84 will remain unchanged.

  • Fixed route service on Sundays will operate on a Sunday schedule with no additions.
  • Streetcar service is suspended until further notice.

In line with the practice of social distancing, the following changes have also been implemented:

o   All passengers will board and exit buses through the rear doors. Boarding exceptions will be made for riders who have accessibility needs and require the use of the drop-down ramps located at the front doors.

o   All passengers are encouraged to leave two empty seats between themselves and others.

In order to accommodate rear entry and exit only (excluding exceptions noted above), Sun Metro is waiving all bus fares on Fixed Route, BRIO and LIFT services until further notice.

For more information about Sun Metro, visit sunmetro.net or call (915) 212-3333. Like their page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @SunMetro.

***

***Curbside Meal Distribution at Senior Centers to Continue for Qualifying Senior Residents (3/23/2020)

As part of a joint meal distribution initiative by the Parks and Recreation Department and El Paso County, curbside distribution of meals will continue every Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to noon, at all City Senior Centers for seniors enrolled in the El Paso County Senior Noontime Meal Program.

The County meal program is preparing and providing five pre-packaged meals consisting of pre-packed shelf and pre-cooked frozen meals.

The meals are only available to adults 60 years-of-age and older who are currently enrolled and active in the El Paso County Senior Noontime Meal program.

Volunteers and employees with the Parks and Recreation Department are helping the El Paso County team distribute the curbside meals. The curbside pickup offers a quick, drive through option to keep seniors and volunteers safely separated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All City Senior Centers remain closed until further notice.

The El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) continues to urge residents to follow prevention measures and stay up-to-date with the latest information by subscribing to both the City and DPH social media platforms, and to visit www.epstrong.org or call dial 2-1-1 and select option six for more information.

***

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

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

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

To read entire story, click here.

***

*** Visitor Policy Update from EPCH, THOP, LPDSH and UMC  (3/23/2020)

Joint Statement Regarding No-Visitor Policy from El Paso Children’s Hospital, The Hospitals of Providence, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare and University Medical Center of El Paso

In an effort to protect patients, physicians, staff and the community as COVID-19 continues to spread within our community, The Hospitals of Providence, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare and University Medical Center of El Paso will implement a no-visitor policy in all hospitals, beginning Monday, March 23. Our priority is to reduce the transmission risk within our sites of care.

Exceptions for The Hospitals of Providence, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare and University Medical Center of El Paso will be made for laboring and post-partum patients; patients with disabilities or impairments or who are elderly; patients in the neonatal ICU (NICU) and pediatric units; patients requiring surgery or other emergency or trauma-related medical procedures; and patients requiring end-of-life care. One caregiver 18 years or older may accompany these patient populations; the visitor must pass our previously established health-screening criteria upon entrance into the facility. No visitors will be allowed to wait in the lobby or waiting rooms.

El Paso Children’s Hospital and Providence Children’s Hospital are limited to one parent/legal guardian at a time. Rotation of a patient’s essential parent/legal guardian should be limited to minimize any potential risk. Again, everyone must pass previously established health-screening criteria before entering the facility. No additional visitors will be allowed to wait in the lobby or waiting rooms. Anyone entering the facility will be asked if they have symptoms of illness and exposure risks upon arrival. Those who have non-severe symptoms such as a fever or cough will be asked to not enter to stop the spread of illness and to seek care from their physician.

While we understand the importance of having the support of loved ones during a hospital visit or stay, we must prioritize the health and safety of our patients and caregivers during this unprecedented pandemic. We encourage support persons to use alternate methods of communication to stay in contact with loved ones, such as phone calls, video chats or texting.

We will continue to modify our response protocols as the needs within our community evolve.

Everyone should continue taking the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Practice social distancing

If you are concerned that you’ve been exposed or have a general question about COVID-19, contact the El Paso County Health Department by calling 211 and choosing option 6.

***

***UTEP President Heather Wilson release letter to college staff (3/23/2020)

Colleagues,

While I hope all of you took some time to recharge over the weekend, I’m sure many of you monitored the continued news about COVID-19.

There are over 200 counties in Texas that have no cases of COVID-19 and the Governor has not ordered a statewide shelter-in-place order. Dallas is in a very different situation, with a major international air travel hub and more than a third of all of the cases in Texas. Every community and University is different and the state is supporting local decision making based on the circumstances in each community.

Having talked to local officials on Sunday, there is no evidence of community spread in El Paso, and the public seems to be acting responsibly with respect to congregation and social distancing. The few currently identified cases were people who contracted the disease elsewhere and traveled here or reside in the same household with those who did. At the same time, we all know that there is skepticism because of delays in testing and receiving results from testing which justify continued measures to keep people at home if they don’t have to leave home.

Early prevention efforts are important, and the decisions to prohibit large gatherings, close bars, and encourage working remotely to the maximum extent possible are prudent.

We’ve canceled face-to-face classes this week to give faculty the time to shift to distance delivery of their courses. Even small class sections will be shifted to online format. For labs and performance courses, faculty are identifying creative ways that students might gain and demonstrate competencies without being together on campus.

Whether it is a work day or not, every employee should be observing social distancing guidance, washing your hands regularly, avoiding social situations with more than 10 people and avoiding crowds.

While faculty are used to working from home and can do so quite easily, it is not always so easy for staff. In some cases, our staff who are paid hourly are in jobs that might be almost impossible to shift to remote work. That is why I want us to make prudent decisions on a case-by-case basis and give supervisors and employees flexibility.

We continue to monitor the situation in El Paso County and take actions every day that make sense to protect the health of students, faculty and staff and help reduce any impact on our healthcare system.

While we monitor the situation constantly, UTEP will continue to exercise the following guidance:

Remote Work: Vice Presidents in consultation with direct reports should actively identify maximum ways employees can work remotely in your areas – with priority for vulnerable populations – while continuing the mission. As many employees as possible should be working from home. Some disruption or confusion is likely and offices that are open will have fewer employees. If student employees can work remotely, they should be allowed to do so.

Length of Day: Offices are authorized to lengthen opening hours in circumstances where the work must be done on campus in order to reduce social interaction while allowing all employees to get their jobs done at staggered times.

Consolidation: For offices that provide face-to-face service, supervisors will assess whether that service can be provided while observing social distancing guidance. Supervisors may consolidate offices or go completely online or distance enabled even if there is a disruption in service with the approval of their Vice President. Not all offices on campus need to have their doors open this week. The request form to work remotely is here.

Public health guidelines: All offices and employees will follow best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including social distancing, handwashing, and staying at home when sick. Employees should also stay at home if a household member is sick.

It’s an anxious time. Keep helping each other. There are resources for you, as an employee, as well here.

Finally, I wanted to thank all of you for taking the situation we face seriously and taking appropriate actions to keep yourself, your colleagues and our students safe and healthy.

Heather Wilson

President

***

***Fort Bliss releases official statement on three New York City Army Reserve members with COVID-19 (3/23/2020)

On March 22, William Beaumont Army Medical Center personnel confirmed an Army Reserve soldier assigned to the 77th Human Resources Company out of New York City tested positive for COVID-19.  The soldier was in close contact with two of the soldiers from the same unit who were confirmed COVID-19 positive by William Beaumont Army Medical Center personnel.

As a precautionary measure, the remainder of the Army Reserve unit was placed into quarantine on March 20 to prevent further potential spread of the virus.  All four soldiers who were confirmed COVID-19 positive are in isolation at Fort Bliss.

Fort Bliss leadership continues to work with installation and local community medical health professionals as part of the response efforts in the local area to ensure the health and safety of all.

***

***Vitalant: Canceled blood drives, Coronavirus fears severely impact blood supply (3/23/2020)

Coronavirus responses have severely impacted the U.S. blood supply as Vitalant and other blood centers across the country are struggling to maintain stable inventories and avoid a critical blood shortage.

With school closures and workers at home, 25% of Vitalant’s blood collections anticipated in March have disappeared—almost overnight. And that number continues to grow.

Through the end of June, Vitalant—the nation’s second largest blood collector—has had over 1,400 blood drives canceled, resulting in nearly 41,000 uncollected blood donations.

Many state and local governments have barred people from leaving their homes, except for essential functions. FEMA has specifically identified blood donation as an “essential and integral component of the emergency support function” as ongoing guidance from government entities recommend that people avoid gatherings and practice social distancing, and, in some states, “shelter in place”. But blood drives are not gatherings: they are blood donation operations that are key to our public health and safety.

To read the entire story, click here.

***

*** Governor Greg Abbott addressed Texans Sunday Afternoon, announcing new numbers, as well as actions by the state to combat the virus. (3/22/2020)

Governor Abbott addressed the state, updating the numbers of positive cases within the state, as well as the number of deaths and those who have been tested.

As of Sunday, six deaths have been reported in Texas; with almost 8700 Texans having been tested for COVID-19

Texas Department of State Health Service officials released a statement updating the number of people statewide that tested positive for the virus to 334 – up from 304 on Saturday.

Abbott also announced new action to increase the number of available nurses to help during the crisis, allowing retired or inactive nurses to reactivate their licenses.

For the issues of supplies, the governor announced additional adding staff that would be tasked to to find global sources of personal protection equipment, as well other supplies needed to combat the spread of the virus.

The governor also issued two Executive Orders, one postpone all “not medically necessary” surgeries at hospitals and the second suspending hospital regulations to increase capacity,  allowing hospitals treat more than one patient in a room.

Additionally, the recently-activated Texas National Guard would be deployed this week for use in testing locations, and helping in setting up healthcare facilities where needed.

As for a possible ‘Shelter in Place’ order for the entire state, the governor said that the effectiveness of his first Executive Orders from last week would be evaluated before any change would take place.  He pointed out that the ‘vast majority’ of the 254 counties in Texas did not have any cases of Coronavirus.

“The public knows that cases of COVID-19 are increasing in places like Dallas, in Houston, in Austin, and several other urban areas,” Gov. Abbott added. “…what may be right for places like the large urban areas may not be right at this particular point in time for the more than 200 counties, that have zero cases of COVID-19.”

He added that local officials have the authority to implement stricter standards if they choose to do so.

Click here to view the Governor’s full statement.

***

*** Clint ISD Prepared for Remote Learning Beginning March 24 (3/22/2020)

Clint ISD schools and buildings remain closed through April 3 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, we are committed to continue to provide the quality education our parents and community has come to expect from Clint ISD.

Four years ago, Clint ISD invested in the 1:1 Device Initiative to provide every student with an iPad, Chromebook or laptop. This has allowed Clint ISD to create a robust remote learning plan for every student in Pre-K through 12th grade so learning can continue for students during the current district closure.  In addition, Clint ISD has purchased 5,000 hotspots to assist our families with Internet access.

On Monday, March 23, Clint ISD teachers and schools will begin contacting students and parents to determine technology needs and provide support as students prepare to learn from home. On Tuesday, March 24, students will begin the Clint ISD Remote Learning Plan through Friday, April 3.

Parents may access their child’s daily learning schedule and assignments, as well as information on free lunches, technology needs, and contact information on our District website, www.clintweb.net, and on school websites.

If parents need assistance, they can contact their child’s teacher or district personnel for assistance and support between 8 am to 3 pm.

***

*** NM Department of Health announces 2 more cases in Dona Ana County; Statewide total now at 65  (3/22/2020)

SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials on Sunday announced eight additional positive tests for COVID-19.  Per the state Department of Health, the most recent cases are:

Two new cases in Doña Ana County:

  • ​A female in her 50s.
  • A female in her 20s.

Two new cases in Bernalillo County:

  • A female in her 60s.
  • A male in his 30s.

One  new case in McKinley County:

  • ​A male 9 years old.

One new case in San Juan County:

  • ​A male in his 50s.

Two new cases in Santa Fe County:

  • ​A male in his 30s.
  • A male in his 40s.

Including the above newly reported cases, New Mexico has now had a total of 65 positive tests for COVID-19:

  • Bernalillo County: 34
  • Doña Ana County: 4
  • Lea County: 1
  • McKinley County: 2
  • Sandoval County: 7
  • San Juan County: 1
  • San Miguel County: 1
  • Santa Fe County: 10
  • ​​Socorro County: 2
  • Taos County: 3

The Department of Health has detected community spread. The agency reports that given the infectious nature of the virus it is likely other residents are infected but yet to be tested or confirmed positive. To that end, additional restrictions enacted by order of the secretary of health Thursday are intended to aggressively minimize person-to-person contact and ensure spread is mitigated by social distancing and isolation. Certain businesses are mandated closed; others have been instructed to limit operations. New Mexicans are strongly urged to limit travel to only what is necessary for health, safety and welfare.

The New Mexico Department of Health has active investigations into the positive patients, which includes contact-tracing and swabs of symptomatic individuals who have had contact with the positive cases.

State officials have vigorously encouraged all New Mexicans to practice social distancing procedures: stay home, particularly if you are sick.

Every New Mexican must work together to stem the spread of COVID-19.

New Mexicans who report symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider or the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline immediately (1-855-600-3453).

People without those symptoms do not need to be tested for COVID-19. This is allergy season, and allergy symptoms such as sneezing or itchy eyes, nose or throat do not indicate a need for testing. While the state is gratified that COVID-19 testing is increasingly available, we need to prioritize testing for persons with symptoms of COVID-19 infection – fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

New Mexicans who have non-health-related questions or concerns can also call 833-551-0518 or visit newmexico.gov, which is being updated and finalized as a one-stop source for information.

The state Department of Health will update its dedicated COVID-19 webpage with additional tests as the state lab provides results.

***

***Two additional soldiers at Fort Bliss test positive for Coronavirus; total stands at 3 on post (3/21/2020)

On March 20, William Beaumont Army Medical Center personnel had confirmed an Army Reserve Soldier assigned to the 77th Human Resources Company out of New York City, tested positive for COVID-19.

As a precautionary measure, the remainder of the Army Reserve unit was placed into quarantine to prevent further potential spread of the virus.

Today, two of the original Soldier’s roommates from the same unit have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. All three Soldiers are in isolation at Fort Bliss.

Fort Bliss leadership continues to work with installation and local community medical health professionals as part of the response efforts in the local area to ensure the health and safety of all.

***

***El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Community Services Section, Precinct 6 Constables, Operation H.O.P.E pass out food  (3/21/2020)

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Community Services Section and Constables from Precinct 6 assisted Operation H.O.P.E during their emergency food giveaway at the El Paso County Coliseum.

The drive-thru event allowed for deputies, constables, and volunteers to distribute the food baskets while families remained inside their vehicles.

Operation H.O.P.E. in partnership with the Rock Center, Mayor Oscar Leeser, Sheriff Wiles and the Sheriff’s Office distributed 750 food baskets to help the El Paso community during these difficult times.

To view the full album from the giveaway, click on this link.

***

***Workforce Solutions Borderplex announces immediate job opportunities (3/21/2020)

 Workforce Solutions Borderplex (WSB) is eager to share a variety of job opportunities available in the Borderplex area.  Jobseekers should register at Work in Texas by creating a profile and then searching and applying for jobs at www.WorkInTexas.com.

Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is looking to fill at least 10 Temporary Customer Service Rep II positions at the West Texas Tele Center at 1359 Lomaland Drive.  These positions are critical to assist Texans with their unemployment claims.

Over 500 positions are available with several different businesses listed below.

  • Albertsons
  • Alorica
  • Dona Ana County Detention Center
  • Lowe’s (cashiers, delivery drivers, sales positions and overnight supervisors)
  • RoofToppers El Paso
  • Sky Transportation
  • Spartan Construction
  • U.S. Census
  • Valley Super Market
  • Vista Supermarkets
  • Walmart

For more information, jobseekers can call 915-887-2600.  Businesses looking to hire can call 915-887-2332.  Additional resources for those affected by the COVID-19 crisis can be found at the Borderplex jobs website.

***

***El Pasoans Fighting Hunger to open ‘Mega Pantries’ staring Monday, March 23 (3/21/2020)

Officials with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank (EPFH) announced new distribution sites around the city, as the organization is experiencing a unique demand for emergency food boxes from individuals and families in need of assistance.

“To meet the evolving needs due to the spread of COVID-19 – coronavirus –  EPFH has teamed up with local partner agencies to set-up Mega Pantry distribution sites throughout El Paso starting Monday, March 23, 2020.”

The distribution schedule will be Monday through Friday from 10AM-2PM at the following locations:

Northeast – Katie’s Pantry – 4801 Sun Valley

Central – Kelly Center for Hunger Relief – 915 N. Florence

Lower Valley – Camino de Vida – 7822 San Jose Rd.

Socorro/Clint/San Elizario – El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank – 9541 Plaza Circle

Starting Tuesday, March 24, 2020

West – Abundant Living Faith Center West – 7100 N. Desert Blvd.

~~To read the complete story, click here~~

***

***Bishop Seitz, priests climb Cristo Rey in prayer for quick end to Coronavirus pandemic (3/21/2020)

On Saturday, Bishop Mark Seitz, along with a small cohort of priests from around the Diocese of El Paso climbed up Mt. Cristo Rey in prayer for the El Paso community for a quick end to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

6 priests and one Seminarian along with Bishop Mark Seitz, climbed to the summit of Mt. Cristo Rey on Saturday morning.  Photos below courtesy Diocese of El Paso/Facebook

***

*** Streetcar Service suspended to Protect Public from Evolving COVID-19 (3/21/2020)

Effective Sunday, March 22, 2020 the El Paso Streetcar will suspend all operations in response to COVID-19.  The service modifications will remain in effect until further notice.

As a reminder, Sun Metro will be waiving all bus fares starting Sunday, March 22, 2020. Fixed Route, BRIO and LIFT services will offer free rides until further notice; Other recently announced service adjustments include:

  • In line with the practice of social distancing, the following changes will be implemented:

o   All passengers will board and exit buses through the rear doors. Boarding exceptions will be made for riders who have accessibility needs and require the use of the drop-down ramps located at the front doors.

o   All passengers are encouraged to leave two empty seats between themselves and others.

o   Effective Monday March 30, 2020 the Fixed Route, Brio and the LIFT will run on a Saturday schedule Monday through Saturday. Sunday routes will continue to operate on a Sunday schedule.

For more information about Sun Metro, visit sunmetro.net or call (915) 212-3333. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/sunmetro or follow us on Twitter @SunMetro.

***

*** 2nd Case of Coronavirus found in Dona Ana County, Statewide count now at 57 (3/21/2020)

SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials on Saturday announced fourteen additional positive tests for COVID-19, including the 2nd case in Dona Ana County.
Per the state Department of Health, the most recent cases are:
9 new cases in Bernalillo County:
  • A female in her 70s
  • A female in her 60s
  • Two males in their 40s
  • Two males in their 30s
  • A female in her 30s
  • A female in her 20s
  • A male infant
1 new case in Doña Ana County:
  • ​A female in her 20s
1 new case in Lea County:
  • ​A male in his 70s
1 new case in Sandoval County:
  • ​A female in her 40s
1 new case in Santa Fe County:
  • ​A male in his 50s
1 new case in Taos County:
  • ​A female in her 50s
Including the above newly reported cases, New Mexico has now had a total of 57 positive tests for COVID-19:
  • Bernalillo County: 32
  • Doña Ana County: 2
  • Lea County: 1
  • McKinley County: 1
  • Sandoval County: 7
  • San Miguel County: 1
  • Santa Fe County: 8
  • ​​Socorro County: 2
  • Taos County: 3
The Department of Health has detected community spread. The agency reports that given the infectious nature of the virus it is likely other residents are infected but yet to be tested or confirmed positive. To that end, additional restrictions enacted by order of the secretary of health Thursday are intended to aggressively minimize person-to-person contact and ensure spread is mitigated by social distancing and isolation. Certain businesses are mandated closed; others have been instructed to limit operations. New Mexicans are strongly urged to limit travel to only what is necessary for health, safety and welfare.
The New Mexico Department of Health has active investigations into the positive patients, which includes contact-tracing and swabs of symptomatic individuals who have had contact with the positive cases.
State officials have vigorously encouraged all New Mexicans to practice social distancing procedures: stay home, particularly if you are sick.
Every New Mexican must work together to stem the spread of COVID-19.
New Mexicans who report symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider or the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline immediately (1-855-600-3453).
People without those symptoms do not need to be tested for COVID-19. This is allergy season, and allergy symptoms such as sneezing or itchy eyes, nose or throat do not indicate a need for testing. While the state is gratified that COVID-19 testing is increasingly available, we need to prioritize testing for persons with symptoms of COVID-19 infection – fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
New Mexicans who have non-health-related questions or concerns can also call 833-551-0518 or visit newmexico.gov, which is being updated and finalized as a one-stop source for information.
The state Department of Health will update its dedicated COVID-19 webpage with additional tests as the state lab provides results.

***

***Sun Metro Notice of COVID-19 Service Changes; Free Rides, Schedule Modifications Programmed (3/21/2020)

In response to COVID-19, Sun Metro will be waiving all bus fares starting Sunday, March 22, 2020

Fixed Route, BRIO and LIFT services will offer free rides until further notice; Streetcar will continue to waive fees as well. Other service adjustments include:

 In line with the practice of social distancing, the following changes will be implemented:

o   All passengers will board and exit buses through the rear doors. Boarding exceptions will be made for riders who have accessibility needs and require the use of the drop-down ramps located at the front doors.

o   All passengers are encouraged to leave two empty seats between themselves and others.

Effective Monday March 30, the following service changes will be implemented:

o   Fixed Route, Brio and the LIFT will run on a Saturday schedule Monday through Saturday. Sunday routes will continue to operate on a Sunday schedule.

o   The El Paso Streetcar will operate on a Sunday schedule the entire week.

For more information about Sun Metro, visit sunmetro.net or call (915) 212-3333. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/sunmetro or follow us on Twitter @SunMetro.

***

***Police Implement Modifications in Response to COVID-19 Threat (3/20/2020)

In an effort to address on-going concerns surrounding the presence of COVID-19 in the El Paso Police area, the El Paso Police Department is implementing modifications to our response protocols.

Dispatchers will now ask health and travel related questions to individuals requesting Police response. Dispatchers may provide callers with specific instructions regarding their interactions with Police, to include maintaining a social distance of at least six feet from officers.

Citizens are strongly encouraged to utilize on-line and telephone reporting options to file Police reports when Police response is not paramount.

The El Paso Police Department will continue to provide the same high quality service that has exemplified our department for decades.

We ask for the public’s patience and cooperation in our effort to maintain the safety of both citizens and officers in this trying time.

Police Non-Emergency: 915-832-4400
Telephone Reporting: 915-832-4436
On-line Reporting via this link

***

***First case of Coronavirus found at Fort Bliss (3/20/2020)

Friday night, officials with William Beaumont Army Medical Center confirmed that a soldier at Fort Bliss has tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to WBAMC officials, the soldier is assigned to the 77th Human Resources Company, part of an Army Reserve unit from New York City, at the post for training.

The soldier is now in isolation at the post.

This is the first confirmed case of the virus at Fort Bliss, along with six other cases confirmed in the El Paso area.

***

***New Restrictions for Cross-border Travel at El Paso Ports of Entry (3/20/2020)

To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo is supporting a decision by the federal government to limit travel along land ports of entry connecting the United States and Mexico to “essential travel.”

“We are one region dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, it is imperative that as a region we restrict unnecessary travel and personal contact,” Margo said. “At this time I believe the Federal limitations applied to our bridges will still allow for commerce and essential business to be conducted.”

Homeland Security plans to restrict travel into the United States through land ports along the U.S-Mexico border to “essential travel.” The restrictions will begin at 11:59 p.m. EST on March 20, 2020 and will remain in place until April 20, 2020.

“Essential travel” includes (but is not limited to):

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States)
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico in furtherance of such work)
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies)
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico)
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S.
  • Armed Forces, returning to the United States
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations

The following travel does not fall within the definition of “essential travel” for purposes of this Notification:

  • Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events).

The City of El Paso manages southbound lanes at the Paso Del Norte, Stanton and Ysleta/Zaragoza ports of entry. The southbound lanes will continue to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

South bound lanes at the ports of entry managed by the City of El Paso remain open to travelers crossing into Juárez, Mexico. Travelers are encouraged to limit their travel into Mexcio to “essential travel,” and to stay vigilant of travel notifications issued by Mexico.

***

***1st Armored Division HQ, Fort Bliss release statement regarding on-going battle with Coronavirus  (3/20/2020)

The @USArmy along with the Division has taken steps to protect the health of our Soldiers, Families and Civilians. We are committed to the health protection of the Force as we address the challenge of COVID19 together.

***

***City Issues Amended Emergency Directive to Reduce Spread of COVID-19 (3/20/2020)

On Friday the City of El Paso amended the City’s emergency directive in accordance with guidelines issued by the state and federal government, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The following order will go into effective at 11:59 p.m. tonight, March 20, and will remain in effect until April 3, 2020:

  • Order No. 1: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Order No. 2: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
  • Order No. 3: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  • Order No. 4: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall temporarily close.

The directive does not prohibit the public from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

For offices and workplaces that remain open, employees should practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home in order to achieve optimum social distancing.

For more information visit www.epstrong.org or www.EPHealth.com and click on the COVID-19 page.

***

***EPCC will close all facilities starting at midnight, Friday March 20th (3/20/2020)

As per Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order intended to further contain the spread of COVID-19 across Texas, El Paso Community College (EPCC) will close its facilities beginning midnight March 20th through midnight April 3rd.

College Administrators will be on duty via distance technology. There will also be limited essential staff on-site to ensure critical college operations continue. These are in the process of being determined. Employees should not report for duty unless they are contacted by their supervisor. Employees who are able may perform their duties via technology from home after consulting with their supervisor.

As previously announced, all courses will be taught online via Blackboard beginning March 30th. Students enrolled in labs, practicums or similar courses should contact their instructor for additional guidance and instructions. EPCC is committed to ensuring students can continue learning and finish the spring semester.

EPCC has a substantial public interest in and is committed to protecting the health and safety of our students, employees and the community. We will continue to follow guidance as directed by government and health authorities.

EPCC will continue to provide updates online, via EPCC email, social media and Tejano Alert.

***

***Municipal Court to Close for In-Person Services  (3/20/2020)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the safety of the public and City of El Paso employees, the El Paso Municipal Court will be closed to the public for in-person services starting Monday, March 23, until further notice.

All court hearings, sessions and jury duty at all bond office locations will be suspended during this time. The court will reschedule and notify residents who have scheduled trials, hearings or jury appearances by mail with a new time and date.

In addition, Municipal Court activities such as Juvenile Case Management Classes, Youth Delinquency Prevention Classes, and Teen Court will be suspended.

While Municipal Court facilities remain closed, residents can still conduct business with the court online or by phone. Residents are encouraged to resolve their citation(s) through the following methods:

·        Online payments: www.citepayusa.com

·        Phone payments: (915) 212-0232

·        Online chat with a court clerk: www.elpasotexas.gov/municipal-courts

·        Email: defendants@elpasotexas.gov

Additional information including questions or concerns is available by calling the El Paso Municipal Court at (915) 212-0215 or visiting the city’s website.

***

***Fabens ISD releases update on district closure, Pickup meal service starts March 23rd (3/20/2020)

As the local situation and government response to COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve, we are monitoring all information and making adjustments to our educational plans.

Until further notice, only essential staff will report to work on Monday, March 23, through April 3, 2020.

Supervisors will notify staff who are deemed essential staff. This is in order to complete critical functions such as payroll, food services, security, etc., so we can be able to continue serving our students, employees, and community during this difficult time.

During the weeks of school closure, Fabens ISD is committed to serving breakfast and lunch to all students and children 18 years old and younger.

Beginning March 23rd through April 3rd, excluding Saturday and Sunday, meals can be picked up curbside at the Fabens High School cafeteria from 7:30 – 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM.

Please continue to check the Fabens ISD website for updates.

***

***El Paso Comic Con (EPCON) postpones annual event until October (3/20/2020)

Friday afternoon, officials with the annual El Paso Comic Con announced the postponement of the event until October 2-4th. Below is their statement:

The producers of El Paso Comic Con continue to closely monitor the latest developments regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In response to the growing awareness and concerns, we have decided it is in the public’s interest to move El Paso Comic Con to October 2-4, 2020 at the El Paso Convention Center.

More information about the event to come.Your tickets will be honored on the new dates. We’ll see you in October!

***

***El Paso Chihuahuas to stream virtual game(s) against Leigh High Valley IronPigs (3/20/2020)

For those residents who are missing baseball the @epchihuahuas have the cure, as they started a virtual 3 game series versus the Lehigh Valley IronPigs yesterday.   The ‘Dawgs dropped the first game at Lehigh Valley 9-2, and look to bounce back tonight.

Check out the virtual Chihuahuas as they take on @IronPigs on @Twitch at 5:05p Watch LIVE via this link.

***

***William Beaumont Army Medical Center to begin COVID-19 screening at Main Hospital Gates (3/20/2020)

Friday afternoon, officials with William Beaumont Army Medical Center released the following information via their social media pages:

***

***The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park Delays Opening (3/20/2020)

The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park announced that the hotel opening has been delayed.  A statement has been provided below.

“The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park stands in solidarity with our country’s current stance on social distancing and the preventative measures needed to stop the spread of COVID-19. At this time, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone our reopening to a date later this spring. Our entire hotel team stands behind this decision as it is our responsibility to act in the best interest of our employees and future guests.

We will continue to monitor state and national health advisories and mandates, and we will announce a new opening date when appropriate. We look forward to opening our doors and ushering in the next era of The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park very soon. From the re-imagination of La Perla, our spectacular rooftop bar which was once Elizabeth Taylor’s penthouse, to the innovative dining experience our Executive Chef Andres Padilla will offer at Ámbar Restaurante, the transformation has been remarkable, and we can’t wait to share it with you.” 

***

***Dona Ana County records first case of Coronavirus, State total stands at 43 (3/20/2020)

SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials on Friday announced eight additional positive tests for COVID-19.

Per the state Department of Health, the most recent cases are:

  • ​A female in Bernalillo County in her teens
  • Two males in Bernalillo County in their 40s
  • A male in Doña Ana County in his 20s
  • A male in McKinley County in his 30s
  • A female in Sandoval County in her teens
  • A male in Sandoval County in his 80s
  • A female in Taos County in her 70s

Including the above newly reported cases, New Mexico has now had a total of 43 positive tests for COVID-19:

  • Bernalillo County: 23
  • Doña Ana County: 1
  • McKinley County: 1
  • Sandoval County: 6
  • San Miguel County: 1
  • Santa Fe County: 7
  • ​​Socorro County: 2
  • Taos County: 2

The Department of Health has detected community spread. The agency reports that given the infectious nature of the virus it is likely other residents are infected but yet to be tested or confirmed positive.

To that end, additional restrictions enacted by order of the secretary of health Thursday are intended to aggressively minimize person-to-person contact and ensure spread is mitigated by social distancing and isolation. Certain businesses are mandated closed; others have been instructed to limit operations. New Mexicans are strongly urged to limit travel to only what is necessary for health, safety and welfare.

The New Mexico Department of Health has active investigations into the positive patients, which includes contact-tracing and swabs of symptomatic individuals who have had contact with the positive cases.

State officials have vigorously encouraged all New Mexicans to practice social distancing procedures: stay home, particularly if you are sick.

Every New Mexican must work together to stem the spread of COVID-19.

New Mexicans who report symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider or the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline immediately (1-855-600-3453).

People without those symptoms do not need to be tested for COVID-19. This is allergy season, and allergy symptoms such as sneezing or itchy eyes, nose or throat do not indicate a need for testing. While the state is gratified that COVID-19 testing is increasingly available, we need to prioritize testing for persons with symptoms of COVID-19 infection – fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

New Mexicans who have non-health-related questions or concerns can also call 833-551-0518 or visit newmexico.gov, which is being updated and finalized as a one-stop source for information.

The state Department of Health will update its dedicated COVID-19 webpage with additional tests as the state lab provides results.

***

***President Trump announces pending closure of US/Mexico Border, Tax Day moving from April 15 to July 15 (3/20/2020)

President Donald Trump, during his daily team briefing on Friday, announced that the US-Mexico border would be closed tonight, the latest step in the county’s journey to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf stated the closure would go into effect midnight Friday at both the northern and southern borders.

Officials added that the closure would last at least 30 days.  When asked about a nationwide lockdown, President Trump said, “I don’t think so.”

The closure deals with non-essential travel, and does not apply with border crossers who attend “educational institutions.”  As for those migrants taken into custody at the border, Secretary Wolf said they would be returned to “Canada, Mexico…and other countries without delay.”

Administration officials made the point several times that the closure would not harm trade, and was in effect to curb any migrants entering the country that could have the Coronavirus.

In addition to the closing of the border, President Trump announced that tax day would be moved from April 15th to July 15th.  Taxpayers would be able to file with no penalties and no penalties.

On Thursday, a new travel alert was issued by the State Department urging Americans not to go abroad under any circumstances and to return home if they are already abroad unless they plan to remain overseas.  In part, the alert read:

“In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.”

***

***UTEP releases information, helpful procedures in wake of U.S.- Mexico Border Restrictions (3/20/2020)

Today, it was announced that the U.S. and Mexico have reached an agreement to restrict all non-essential travel in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

This includes the ports of entry in the El Paso/Juárez area. It will be effective at midnight March 21, 2020.

Examples of essential travel include travel to attend educational institutions, for medical purposes, for emergency response and public health services, and for individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade.

As this situation continues to develop, we will share additional information.

The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Mexico have also suspended routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services as of March 18, 2020. Exceptions will be made for certain emergencies. Contact the Embassy or consulate in your area directly for specific information on available services.

Members of the UTEP community who are unable to cross the border to return to their normal place of residency may need to seek out temporary living arrangements with friends or family members if available.

Those individuals who need assistance finding a place to live should contact Elisa Espinosa at eespinosa4@utep.edu or 915-747-6117.

• Students are expected to continue to fulfill online or other course requirements once courses begin remotely on March 30.

• Difficulties with internet access or completing course requirements online should be discussed directly with the professor.

• Staff and faculty who are unable to report to work due to the border restrictions and need assistance should contact Sandy Vasquez at svasquez@utep.edu or hrs@utep.edu, or call 915-747-7873.

International students who are impacted by the border closure should report any changes in their temporary or permanent residency to the Office of International Programs at oip@utep.edu or 915-747-5664. For more information, visit this website.

The UTEP community is working together to support our students, staff and faculty impacted by recent developments at the border. We will continue to update the community as we receive new information

***

*** TFCU to close all branch lobbies from Monday, March 23rd thru at least April 13, Drive thrus to remain open (3/20/2020)

 TFCU‘s Executive Management and Board of Directors have been, monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the beginning. They have a Response Team in place to ensure the safety and health of staff and members while still providing the community with the highest level of service.

Therefore, to maintain the well-being of members and staff and to limit the spreading of COVID-19(Coronavirus) in our community, TFCU will be temporarily closing all its branch lobbies beginning Monday, March 23 until Monday, April 13 or further notice.

At this time, all branch drive-thrus will remain open during normal business hours. Normal business hours are: Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 6:00pm and Saturdays from 9:00am to 12:00pm.

Members can complete most of their usual lobby transactions through the drive thru; however, TFCU offers a variety of convenience services like online banking, mobile app, TFCU Branch ATMs, Allpoint Network ATMs, ProPay, and their Personal Audio Teller Response System (PAT) where you can check your balances, make transfers, and even check the status of your loan all from the safety of your home. For more information on their convenience services, please visit tfcu.coop.

In addition, TFCU assures the community that they are available to help those in need during these economically challenging times with loan payment extensions or special assistance loans. To find out more about how TFCU can help you, please call 915-544-5626.

If you have any additional questions about your specific situation, please contact their Call Center at 915-843-8328 during normal business hours.

***

***El Paso ISD updates on student meal distribution, procedures starting Monday (3/20/2020)

EPISD next week will begin distributing free, take-home meals for any child ages 1-18 at fifty school sites throughout the District as part of the Emergency Preparedness Week response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided to any child, regardless of their enrollment status in the district the weeks of March 23-27 and March 30-April 3.

he meals will be to take home. No dinning will be allowed in the schools.

Breakfast will be served only on March 23 only from 8 to 9 a.m. Lunch for the two weeks will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children will be given a lunch and take-home breakfast for the next morning. Children must be present to receive the meal.

The meals will be distributed at the following schools:

  • Andress High, 5400 Sun Valley
  • Aoy Elementary, 901 S. Campbell
  • Armendariz Middle, 2231 Arizona
  • Austin High School, 3500 Memphis
  • Barron Elementary, 11155 Whitey Ford
  • Bassett Middle, 4400 Elm
  • Bonham Elementary, 7024 Cielo Vista
  • Bowie High, 801 S. San Marcial
  • Brown Middle, 7820 Helen of Troy
  • Canyon Hills Middle, 8930 Eclipse
  • Chapin High, 7000 Dyer
  • Charles Middle, 4909 Trojan
  • Clardy Elementary, 5508 Delta
  • Coldwell Elementary, 4101 Altura
  • Cooley Elementary, 107 N. Collingsworth
  • Crockett Elementary, 3200 Wheeling
  • Crosby Elementary, 5411 Wren
  • El Paso High, 800 E. Schuster
  • Fannin Elementary, 5425 Salem
  • Franklin High, 900 N. Resler
  • Green Elementary, 5430 Buckley
  • Guerrero Elementary, 7530 Lakehurst
  • Guillen Middle, 900 S. Cotton
  • Hawkins Elementary, 5816 Stephenson
  • Henderson Middle, 5505 Robert Alva
  • Herrera Elementary, 350 Coates
  • Hillside Elementary, 4500 Clifton
  • Kohlberg Elementary, 1445 Nardo Goodman
  • Lee Elementary, 7710 Pandora
  • Logan Elementary, 3200 Ellerthorpe
  • MacArthur Elementary, 8101 Whitus
  • Magoffin Elementary, 4931 Hercules
  • Mesita ECDC, 220 Lawton
  • Morehead Middle, 5625 Confetti
  • Moreno Elementary, 2300 San Diego
  • Moye Elementary, 4825 Alps
  • Nixon Elementary, 11141 Loma Roja
  • Park Elementary, 3601 Edgar Park
  • Putnam Elementary, 6508 Fiesta
  • Rivera Elementary, 6445 Escondido
  • Roberts Elementary, 341 Thorn
  • Ross Middle, 6101 Hughey
  • Rusk Elementary, 3601 N. Copia
  • Stanton Elementary, 5414 Hondo Pass
  • Terrace Hills Middle, 4835 Blossom
  • Tom Lea Elementary, 4851Marcus Uribe
  • Travis Elementary, 5000 N. Stevens
  • Whitaker Elementary, 4700 Rutherford
  • Wiggs Middle, 1300 Circle
  • Zach White Elementary, 4256 Roxbury

***

***Ysleta ISD updates hours of operation for meal distribution (3/19/2020)

The hours of operation HAVE CHANGED for the distribution of breakfast and lunch meals at Ysleta ISD schools during the closure beginning Monday, March 23.
At select campuses, vehicles can pull up from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. and receive BOTH breakfast and lunch meals on a drive-through basis for children inside the vehicle.

The select campuses are:

  • Capistrano Elementary
  • Constance Hulbert Elementary School
  • Desertaire Elementary School
  • R.E.L. Washington Elementary School
  • Bel Air Middle School
  • Del Valle Middle School
  • Parkland Middle School
  • Bel Air High School
  • Del Valle High School
  • Eastwood High School
  • Hanks High School
  • Parkland High School
  • Riverside High School
  • Ysleta High School
Thank you for partnering with us to make sure all YISD families are aware they can receive both breakfast and lunch meals for their children when they visit the select campuses above between the revised hours of 7:30-10:30 a.m. on weekdays during the school closure.

***

***Canutillo ISD times/locations for free meal distribution (3/19/2020)

Canutillo ISD will serve free breakfast and lunch for any child ages 1-18 in El Paso who may need a meal during the declared weeks of emergency preparedness of March 23 – April 3, when the District will be closed.

The Breakfast schedule at these campuses will be from 7 am to 9 am.
The Lunch schedule at these campuses will be from 11 am to 1 pm.

The meals will be served at the following schools:

  • Canutillo High School
  • Bill Childress Elementary
  • Garcia Elementary
  • Canutillo Elementary

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Live operators continue to staff the crisis line as usual.

***

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another small business reeling from COVID-19: the doctor’s office

Erica Swegler is not just worried about her patients during the coronavirus pandemic; she’s also worried about her business, which she says has fallen into the red.

In normal times, the Austin family physician might see as many as 26 patients in a day. Recently, that number has fallen to 12 or six, as public officials urge people to stay home and delay non-urgent care to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Swegler wants her patients to stay home if they can; about one-third of them are at high risk of bad outcomes if they contract the disease, she said. The problem is that lower patient volumes — and stingier reimbursement for caring for patients remotely via telemedicine — makes it tough to pay the bills. Swegler is trying to make payroll for her three employees on Tuesday. Her landlord has agreed to lower rent for March and April, but Swegler knows it’s not a long-term option.

“If I’m ill and have to leave the practice for up to two weeks, or God forbid I’m hospitalized where it may be a three- to six-week period of time, I’m bankrupt,” she said.

Primary care doctors and specialists are warning that, as financial constraints lead them to consider laying off staff or even go out of business, a greater number of patients might end up in Texas hospitals at a time when those facilities don’t have the capacity to handle them.

Nurse practitioners in doctors’ offices or outpatient clinics are already losing jobs or being furloughed, said Christy Blanco, president of the Texas Nurse Practitioners professional association.

One Houston-area nurse practitioner, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because her employer does not allow her to talk to reporters, said she’d had her hours cut this week by one-fifth because of low patient volumes.

“I have a home, I have my daughter’s daycare, I have student loans, obviously just food and living expenses just to keep things running,” she said. “A 20 percent chunk is a big chunk.”

Government mandates have required some health insurers to pay doctors the same amount for a telemedicine consultation as they would for an in-person visit, but many employer-based plans pay far lower rates for remote services, health workers said.

“What we’re seeing is an inadequate reimbursement” for telehealth, Blanco said. An insurer might pay a practice $70 for a primary care visit, she said, but if done via telehealth, the payment could be as low as $7.

Layoffs are “not just affecting restaurants and local businesses,” Blanco said. “In the specialty and the other clinics that aren’t acute care clinics, we’re seeing the same type of situations.”

Swegler spoke to The Texas Tribune late Thursday after finishing a telephone visit with a patient.

“It went well, it’s just that who knows how much I’ll be paid,” she said. “I don’t really look at what insurance they have, and the teleconsults without video, which I’m not currently set up for, could be paid as little as 10 to 30% of a regular office visit.”

Kevin Spencer, chief executive of Premier Family Physicians, a network of 42 primary care providers in Austin, said visits to his physicians were down about 30% because of the coronavirus. And that’s after seeing an uptick in virtual visits.

“To take away 30, 40% of your volume, the margins in your primary care business will run out in a matter of weeks or months,” he said.

Even with some insurance plans paying full rates for telemedicine visits, Spencer said the kinds of visits doctors can perform remotely don’t pay as well. For example, practices can’t run lab work, give vaccines or perform a complete physical exam over phone or video.

“Unlike other small employers who can furlough staff or close up shop, family physicians are essential to our health care system,” Tom Banning, president of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, said. “People won’t stop getting sick, chronic care patients still need ongoing continuity of services and more folks will need mental health counseling for things like anxiety about job loss or losing the family savings.”

In the meantime, doctors are looking into small business loans guaranteed by the federal government and hoping for relief under a congressional bailout.

They’re also calling on insurance companies to help. They argue that many insurers are saving money as claims drop. Spencer would like to see insurers move to pay primary care physicians an upfront, regular fee for keeping patients healthy. Doing so would move away from the traditional fee-for-service system, which pays physicians for individual procedures.

Swegler backs that idea.

“I’m in a small, independent practice, and I just don’t hear much if any attention being paid to our peril, which is very real,” she said. “It’s going to happen very quickly that we just won’t have the resources to keep our doors open.”

Author:  EDGAR WALTERSThe Texas Tribune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Police across Texas are enforcing social distancing, but they’re hesitant to make arrests

Texans who eat out at restaurants or gather at bars are violating an emergency order from the governor, but law enforcement agencies across the state say they’ll be measured in how they’ll enforce the decree to practice social distancing.

Punitive action — like fines or jail time — is an option, the agencies say, but also a last resort.

Abbott’s order, which also says Texans shouldn’t gather in groups of more than 10 people, is designed to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, which state numbers say has infected hundreds of Texans and killed eight people in the state. Some local governments, including Dallas County and the city of Waco, have rolled out even stricter shelter-in-place orders. Hidalgo County began a nighttime curfew, with exceptions.

Local authorities and Abbott have said that, so far, they’ve encountered overwhelming, voluntary compliance. But if people don’t obey the orders, Abbott warned Sunday, they could face fines up to $1,000 and six months in jail. John Wittman, a spokesperson for the governor, said that both local law enforcement and the Texas Department of Public Safety can enforce the state order. Businesses that don’t comply, like restaurants that keep their dining rooms open, will have their licenses pulled, he said.

On the ground, however, numerous law enforcement agencies seem hesitant to take criminal action against people who violate the orders. McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, whose department is now authorized to enforce Hidalgo County’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, said police still can’t pull anyone off the street and lock them up.

“Police officers are still required to meet the constitutional requisite of probable cause … to believe that an offense has happened,” he said.

Law enforcement officers, code ordinance enforcers or a combination of the two are handling any potential violations in multiple cities and counties. So far most enforcement action seems targeted toward businesses. And a lot of that action is in the form of education, officials say.

In Austin, the city has received more than 300 calls regarding large gatherings or open restaurants or bars since March 15, according to a city spokesperson. City code compliance officers respond to the scene and inform businesses and property owners of the current restrictions and may issue warnings. No citations have yet been issued.

“Our goal right now is voluntary compliance. We are responding to calls, offering guidance and have seen overwhelming voluntary compliance,” said José Roig, interim director of the Austin code department.

Harris County constables, who announced Friday that they would respond to reports of unauthorized gatherings at places like restaurants and bars, said they were focusing specifically on businesses, and “the last thing we want to do is enforcement action.”

In Laredo, the police department has formed a COVID-19 task force, with about three dozen personnel, to go out and ensure compliance with the city order. On Friday, officers had visited nearly 500 places, but again, no citations had been issued. The main focus has been on public places, not big house gatherings, according to a police department spokesperson.

“Most people were already steering clear of the public eating areas all by themselves,” said the spokesperson, Jose Baeza. “… It’s overall been manageable and cooperative.”

Even in Dallas County, the first jurisdiction to issue a shelter-in-place order, law enforcement appears hesitant to impose any criminal penalties. The order states residents are allowed to leave their homes only for essential activities, like getting food or medicine, or for essential government or business operations.

The Dallas Police Department said Monday it is continuing to play a supportive role to the city code enforcement team, which is handling reports of violations. No citations have been issued. And the sheriff’s office said unless there is probable cause or a credible witness, it “is not specifically going to be identifying who is essential personnel or not.”

The more hands-off approach and push for voluntary compliance for individuals matches what other parts of the country have implemented. Police in San Francisco, which has been under a shelter-in-place order since last Monday, told Time last week that enforcement to keep people inside is a last resort, and voluntary compliance is the goal.

“Officials in most of these places have been careful to say that enforcement against individuals will be very limited,” said Lindsay Wiley, a professor and public health law expert at American University Washington College of Law. “They’re really hoping to avoid a situation where they’re arresting people and putting them in crowded jails.”

Another concern is the constitutionality of shelter-in-place orders, Wiley said. In times of crisis, courts balance civil liberties with public health needs, but long-term restrictions for weeks or potentially months without individual threat assessments could be problematic, she said.

Author:  JOLIE MCCULLOUGH – The Texas Tribune

Local restaurateurs opens fund to assist food and beverage workers

Local food and beverage workers are among the first to be hurt by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But help is coming thanks to a group of local restaurateurs.

“Restaurants, bars and coffee shops are inherently social places, so guidance from health authorities to limit exposure to crowds and to practice social distancing hit us all hard,” said Maggie Asfahani, who owns Salt + Honey Bakery Café in Five Points.

“We were already hurting, but the executive order that restaurants close their dining rooms forced many restaurants, including mine, to temporarily close and lay off the employees who are the backbone of our business.”

Asfahani is leading a group of local service industry volunteers who have established the El Paso Food and Beverage Workers Fund within the Paso del Norte Community Foundation. The fund will support a grant to Workforce Solutions Borderplex to provide $50 gifts to qualifying food and beverage workers who have been laid off or are working significantly reduced hours due to a temporary closure as a result of the pandemic.

“The Paso del Norte Community Foundation was established to support the needs of our region,” said Tracy J. Yellen, CEO of the Paso del Norte Community Foundation. “We are grateful to local restaurateurs and Workforce Solutions Borderplex for stepping up in these challenging times to support our workforce.”

“Across the country, the needs are great for employers and employees who have seen severe impacts to their businesses and their livelihoods,” said Leila Melendez, CEO of Workforce Solutions Borderplex.

“The generosity and leadership which these restaurateurs have shown typifies the strength, resilience and selflessness of the Borderplex region.”

You can donate by clicking here or mailing a check payable to the Paso del Norte Community Foundation (with a note that it’s for the El Paso Food and Beverage Workers Fund) to Paso del Norte Community Foundation, 221 N. Kansas Street, Suite 1900, El Paso, Texas 79901.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Texas bars and restaurants: Expect an announcement Thursday

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

His remarks came in response to a reporter’s question Wednesday about whether he plans to shut down bars and restaurants statewide. Abbott has previously deferred to local governments on how to handle such closures, which has been part of the governor’s broader strategy so far in responding to the pandemic. Earlier this week, various cities and counties in areas such as Houston, Dallas and Austin ordered restaurants and bars to close to in-house patrons.

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

Abbott said he wanted to hear from local elected officials Wednesday — “about your needs, your strategies, your thoughts and your input” — to help shape what he announces Thursday.

Abbott also acknowledged that things have changed drastically since he declared a statewide public health disaster last week.

“When I made my disaster declaration on Friday, since that time and today, the number of people who have tested positive have more than doubled,” he said. “Since I declared my disaster declaration, the number of counties impacted have more than doubled. It is clear that this virus spread is occurring across the entire state of Texas.”

Since Abbott’s announcement Friday, three coronavirus-related deaths — including two in North Texas — have been confirmed. Over 80 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been identified across 23 of Texas’ 254 counties, Abbott said Wednesday. More than 1,900 people are being monitored for the possibility of having the virus.

Abbott again warned during Wednesday’s news conference that, as more testing kits become available, the number of confirmed cases will significantly increase.

“By the end of this week, we’ll have capability of administering between 15,000 to 20,000 tests per week,” Abbott said. “As we see the increase and spread of this across the state of Texas, it is absolutely essential that every leader — whether it be city, county, whatever type of jurisdiction — every leader must employ the standards that have been established by [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Author:  CASSANDRA POLLOCK –  The Texas Tribune

El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from March 13 thru 15th

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from March 13 thru 15th.

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***

Burrell College Moves All Student Courses Online  in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic(3/15/2020)

Out of an abundance of caution for the welfare of students and employees, the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine is making significant changes to its learning environment.

Beginning Monday, March 30, all medical student education courses will be delivered virtually via live streaming and archived video. All in-person laboratory sessions, such as anatomy labs and standardized patient labs, have been cancelled until further notice and any needed exams will be delivered online using remote testing services. Clinical rotations will continue uninterrupted or accommodated specific to the rotation location.

Effective immediately, all non-essential faculty and staff are being identified on a case-by-case basis and will work remotely if their jobs are conducive to telecommuting.

“The health and wellness of our students and employees is our top priority,” says John Hummer, president of Burrell College. “In light of current public health concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are implementing these plans to minimize the risk of transmission and infection.”

The Burrell College is closely monitoring guidance from the New Mexico Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the medical education accrediting agencies. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, additional changes to the work and learning environments may be needed.

Updates and alerts from the college regarding the COVID-19 response effort can be accessed at the following website. This website is being updated around the clock; faculty, staff and students are encouraged to visit the site as often as possible.

***

*** Socorro ISD Superintendent declares emergency shutdown of district   (3/15/2020)

Jose Espinoza, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools for Socorro ISD issued the following statement:

#TeamSISD: I am declaring an emergency shutdown of our entire district in which only staff with critical functions in district report to work until further notice.

Read below:

***

***City Health Officials announce second presumptive case of Coronavirus in El Paso (3/15/2020)

This afternoon the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the second presumptive positive test result for COVID-19 in El Paso County.

The male patient in his 40s is hospitalized. With the epidemiological investigation still in its early phase, it is not known at this time if the man has a history of travel outside out region. Results of that investigation will be used to identify any close contacts who may have been exposed by the patient and if any further testing of close contacts needs to take place.

“News of this case came to us less than an hour before a press conference that had been scheduled days prior,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. “This is just an example of how quickly things can change when it comes to this virus and our willingness as public servants to provide accurate information to the public as swiftly as possible.”

The public is reminded that COVID-19 is not an airborne disease and is spread primarily via coughs and sneezes of those already infected. Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization. However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.

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

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

Community Leaders to Provide Update on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Posted by City of El Paso, Texas – Municipal Government on Sunday, March 15, 2020

***

*** EPISD expands number of locations that will offer free meals to students during emergency preparedness closure (3/15/2020)

Fifty El Paso Independent School District campuses will be serving free breakfast and lunch during the upcoming emergency preparedness week on March 23-27 while the District is closed in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak in the region.

Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. during that week. All meals are take-home only. There will be no dinning in the cafeterias.

Meals are for all children ages 1 to 18 regardless of their enrollment status with the District.  Meals will be served at the following schools:

• Bowie High, 801 S. San Marcial
• Chapin High, 7000 Dyer
• Andress High, 5400 Sun Valley
• Franklin High, 900 N. Resler
• Irvin High, 9465 Roanoke
• El Paso High, 800 E. Schuster
• Henderson Middle, 5505 Robert Alva
• Morehead Middle, 5625 Confetti
• MacArthur Intermediate, 8101 Whitus
• Armendariz Middle, 2231 Arizona
• Ross Middle, 6101 Hughey
• Bassett Middle, 4400 Elm
• Terrace Hills Middle, 4835 Blossom
• Guillen Middle, 900 S. Cotton
• Roberts Elementary, 341 Thorn
• Coldwell Elementary, 4101 Altura
• Lee Elementary, 7710 Pandora
• Stanton Elementary, 5414 Hondo Pass
• Tom Lea Elementary, 4851Marcus Uribe

• Putnam Elementary, 6508 Fiesta

• Hillside Elementary, 4500 Clifton
• Hawkins Elementary, 5816 Stephenson

The District has added the following schools as pick-up sites for take-home breakfast and lunch during the emergency preparedness weeks:

• Barron Elementary, 11155 Whitey Ford
• Bonham Elementary,7024 Cielo Vista
• Brown Middle, 7820 Helen of Troy
• Clardy Elementary, 5508 Delta
• Cooley Elementary, 107 N. Collingsworth
• Guerrero Elementary, 7530 Lakehurst
• Herrera Elementary, 350 Coates
• Mesita ECDC, 220 Lawton
• Moreno Elementary, 2300 San Diego
• Park Elementary, 3601 Edgar Park
• Rivera Elementary, 6445 Escondido
• Ross Middle, 6101 Hughey
• Whitaker Elementary, 4700 Rutherford
• Wiggs Middle, 1300 Circle
• Aoy Elementary, 901 S. Campbell
• Austin High, 3500 Memphis
• Canyon Hills Middle, 8930 Eclipse
• Charles Middle, 4909 Trojan
• Crockett Elementary, 3200 Wheeling
• Fannin Elementary, 5425 Salem
• Green Elementary, 5430 Buckley
• Kohlberg Elementary, 1445 Nardo Goodman
• Logan Elementary, 3200 Ellerthorpe
• Magoffin Middle, 4931 Hercules
• Nixon Elementary, 11141 Loma Roja
• Rusk Elementary, 3601 N. Copia
• Travis Elementary, 5000 N. Stevens
• Zach White Elementary, 4256 Roxbury

The City of El Paso’s Department of Public Health on Saturday released guidelines for school districts in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Those guidelines stated that all school districts should cancel classes until April 6.

EPISD previously had made the proactive decision for an extended closure. Given the new guidelines from the health department, the District will extend the closure until April 6.

The weeks of March 23-27 and March 30 to April 3 have been declared Emergency Preparedness Weeks in EPISD. All staff will be on duty. We are using the first week to prepare distance learning for students and professional development for staff.

We will continue to provide updated information to the EPISD community as it becomes available.

Questions regarding the closures can be sent to the District via the Let’s Talk portal at episd.org. To access it, click on the “Contact Us” tab on the main page of the website.

***

***Ysleta ISD extends school closures thru April 6th (3/15/2020)

The El Paso Department of Public Health has recommended all school districts to close schools until April 6. The Ysleta Independent School District will follow this recommendation.

Ysleta ISD will continue its preventive measures, planning efforts, and communication with parents and community as more information becomes available.

***Fabens ISD extends district closure thru April 6th; District will provide pick-up meals. (3/15/2020)

As per the public health officials advice, Fabens ISD will be closed until April 3 students return on Monday, April 6.

Students should remain at home and return to school on Monday, April 6.

For the week of March 23-27, and March 30- April 3, breakfast and lunch will be provided to all students and children 18 years old and younger. Meals can be picked up at the Fabens High School cafeteria from 7:30 – 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM.

***

***San Elizario ISD extends district closure through April 3rd (3/15/2020)

DPS provided information that makes it necessary for the SEISD to EXTEND the closure status from the original March 23rd to March 27th to INCLUDE March 30th to April 3rd.

Please keep in mind that the official Spring Break is March 16 through March 20, 2020.

***

***Tornillo ISD extends school closure thru April 6th

Tornillo ISD has extended an additional week of emergency preparedness following the already scheduled Spring Break due to recent guidance from our local Health Department.  Spring Break is March 16th-20th   (Staff and Students) and the emergency preparedness week extension will run from March 23rd – April 3rd. (students only)

Child Nutrition Program will be in operation March 23rd – April 3rd   (meal schedules and locations will be provided next week)

Students will return to school on Monday, April 6th and will be following regular bell schedule.

***

***Sunland Park to close for 3 weeks; 17th running of the Sunland Derby Cancelled (3/15/2020)

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino has announced that the entire facility will be closed to the public for three weeks beginning Monday, March 16, at 1 a.m. This decision was made after high-level discussions between Sunland Park management, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Racing Commission, and the state’s Gaming Control Board. Today’s decision also means that next weekend’s Sunland Derby and Sunland Park Oaks horse races will not take place as scheduled.

“Although there have been no known cases of the COVID-19 at the property, we are suspending operations out of an abundance of caution and to promote social distancing,” said Director of Marketing for Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino, Ethan Linder.

During the closure, Sunland Park management will work with the New Mexico Health Department to implement additional protocols to protect guests prior to the reopening of the facility.

“For 60 years, Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino has provided non-stop entertainment for the local community,” said Linder. “We have always promised great customer service, world-class horse racing, and a drive to be good partners with our local community as well as the horse racing world. It’s that promise that guides us as we face this difficult challenge of responding to the coronavirus.”

Linder added that, “Our hearts go out to the people who have been affected by these unprecedented events. We appreciate the healthcare workers, local community officials, and governments around the world who are working on the front lines.”

“The governors office has asked the Sunland Derby for the safety and welfare of the general public and staff as well as the city of El Paso and Sunland Park Ceased operations for two to three weeks. The governor wants to get ahead of the curve and reduce the bell curve” – per general manager Rich Baugh

Baugh also said, “ we haven’t worked through all the particulars , but the track will allow the horsemen to continue training here. With that being said there is no definitive time line for closure yet, but it might soon.”

***

***EPISD to extend emergency preparedness closure of schools, operations to April 6 (3/15/2020)

The City of El Paso’s Department of Public Health on Saturday released guidelines for school districts in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Those guidelines stated that all school districts should cancel classes until April 6.

EPISD previously had made the proactive decision for an extended closure. Given the new guidelines from the health department, the District will extend the closure until April 6.

The weeks of March 23-27 and March 30 to April 3 have been declared Emergency Preparedness Weeks in EPISD. All staff will be on duty. We are using the first week to prepare distance learning for students and professional development for staff.

We also are expanding the number of school sites that will be offering take-home meals for students during the closure to 50 campuses, to be announced later. Meals will be offered at these sites on March 23-27 and March 30-April 6. It is a priority for EPISD that all students have access to healthful meals as well as learning opportunities during the school closures.

We will continue to provide updated information to the EPISD community as it becomes available.

Questions regarding the closures can be sent to the District via the Let’s Talk portal at episd.org. To access it, click on the “Contact Us” tab on the main page of the website.

***

*** Statement about Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare visitor restrictions (3/15/2020)

Statement from Del Sol Medical Center CEO David Shimp and Las Palmas Medical Center CEO Don Karl about Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare’s visitor restrictions.

“Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare remains focused on preparedness and response efforts related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For the safety of our patients, visitors, physicians, colleagues and community, along with hospitals across the country, we have implemented visitor restrictions within all Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare facilities to control the spread of the virus. These changes are necessary given the recent presumptive positive case in our community.

At this time, visiting hours are restricted to the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and we will allow only one adult visitor per patient in the building at a time during these hours. All visitors must be 18 years of age or older. One person may remain overnight with a patient in select areas of the hospital only, including pediatrics, neonatal ICU (NICU), and labor and delivery.

We continue to screen everyone entering our facilities. If a visitor doesn’t pass the entrance screening, they are not allowed in the facility. Exceptions may be granted by hospital leadership for extraordinary circumstances, with additional precautions implemented.

The health and safety of our patients and caregivers are our top priority, and we will continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure we are able to safely care for our community.”

***

***Health Officials Provide School Districts with Coronavirus Guidance for Students, Faculty (3/14/2020)

On Saturday, health and area school district officials met to discuss ongoing preventative measures to reduce the risk of spreading the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Health officials provided the districts a summary of COVID-19 as well as preventative measures that should be shared and implemented with their students, faculty and staff.

Below are the recommendations given to the school districts as of today, Saturday, March 14:

  • School districts directed to have students return from Spring Break on April 6, 2020.
  • Children with special healthcare needs should not return to school during the current school year.
  • All students, faculty and staff with travel history of less than 14 days will have to stay home for 14 days before returning to school and only if they are asymptomatic.
  • Children with influenza-like symptoms will be sent home by a school nurse; and they may return when they do not have fever for more than 24 hours and no cough.
  • All school districts are directed to cancel mass gatherings/events, to include but not limited to sports, commencement ceremonies, concerts, etc.
  • All schools are directed to collect information on a daily basis on absenteeism due to influenza-like illness (by grade and school); starting on the first day the students return from Spring Break.
  • All schools are directed to promote and implement effective hygiene activity among students and personnel, teaching them proper handwashing, cough etiquette, cleaning of working surfaces and social distancing.
  • All schools are directed to stagger lunch hours to prevent large gatherings in the cafeteria.

Factors to consider for temporary school dismissal: (Considered on a case-by-case basis)

  • Presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in a school
  • Community-wide spread of the virus
  • Impact to our community

***

*** Ysleta ISD sends message on employee compensation during mandatory closure (3/14/2020)

Pursuant to Board Policy DEA (Local), the YISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution to ensure all full-time non-exempt employees are paid during the mandatory closure. As such, full-time hourly employees will be allotted additional leave days, solely for use during the mandatory closure time due to COVID-19, to ensure they are compensated.

Non-exempt employees deemed as essential personnel that are required to work during the mandatory closure beginning on March 23, 2020, will be paid time and a half of their current hourly rate.

Part-time district employees interested in assisting in sanitizing district properties can report to the YISD Service Center located at 7944 Yermoland on Monday, March 23, 2020 at 7:00 a.m.

In addition, those part-time employees that would like to supply food at the sites specified for drive by breakfast and lunch, please report to the designated campus no later 7:00 a.m. Please note, this option is on a first come first serve basis and neither option is mandatory but available for those that are interested.

***

*** Walmart to adjust hours to help clean, restock stores for customers (3/14/2020)

By Dacona Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Walmart U.S.

I could not be prouder of our associates and what they continue to accomplish for our customers. I don’t think any of us have been through an experience like this, and we continue to be amazed at what our people, whether in the stores or in the supply chain, are doing to make sure customers have what they need.

To better support our associates and serve our customers, we will adjust our operating hours beginning Sunday, March 15. Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice.

This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing. Stores currently operating under more reduced hours (for example they regularly close at 10 p.m. or open at 7 a.m.) will keep their current hours of operation.

As we make this change, associates will continue to work the hours and shifts they are scheduled, and our supply chain and trucking fleet will continue to move products and deliver to stores on their regular schedules.

As a reminder, we have a temporary COVID-19 emergency leave policy to support associates at this unprecedented time.

To our associates, thank you for your incredible work during this time. I know it hasn’t always been easy, but your entire Walmart family is so proud of what you are doing and the important difference you are making, both for your neighbors and for your country.

***

***Department of Public Health (DPH) Education Taskforce deployed across the region this afternoon (3/14/2020)

More than half a dozen teams consisting of two educators visited local shopping centers, malls, and public transportation hubs.

The proactive approach comes less than a day after the Public Health Laboratory confirmed the first presumptive positive case of Novel Coronavirus in El Paso County.

“This is a small part of the larger plan we’ve been talking about for weeks, and a presumptive positive case was the trigger to be proactive in education and calming fears,” said Public Health Director Robert Resendes.

Specially trained health educators will be answering questions and providing printed literature to help reduce the stress and anxiety being experienced by residents who are emptying grocery shelves despite recommendations to focus on self-care and monitoring. Hoarding cleaning products and dry goods is creating undue stress.

Area residents should heed the advice to shop as they would before the pandemic was declared.

DPH officials continue to urge residents to stay up-to-date with the latest information by following the City and DPH on Facebook and Twitter and by visiting www.EPHealth.com or www.EPSalud.com for updates.

Additionally, the 2-1-1 Texas information and Referral Center is available 24/7. Callers can dial 211 and select option 1 for more information.

***

*** EPISD announces take home meal sites for breakfast and lunch schedules for March 23-27th (3/14/2020)

Twenty-two El Paso Independent School District campuses will be serving free breakfast and lunch during the upcoming emergency preparedness week on March 23-27 while the District is closed in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak in the region.

Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. during that week. All meals are take-home only. There will be no dinning in the cafeterias.

Meals are for all children ages 1 to 18 regardless of their enrollment status with the District.

Meals will be served at the following schools:

• Bowie High, 801 S. San Marcial
• Chapin High, 7000 Dyer
• Andress High, 5400 Sun Valley
• Franklin High, 900 N. Resler
• Irvin High, 9465 Roanoke
• El Paso High, 800 E. Schuster
• Henderson Middle, 5505 Robert Alva
• Morehead Middle, 5625 Confetti
• MacArthur Intermediate, 8101 Whitus
• Armendariz Middle, 2231 Arizona
• Ross Middle, 6101 Hughey
• Bassett Middle, 4400 Elm
• Terrace Hills Middle, 4835 Blossom
• Guillen Middle, 900 S. Cotton
• Roberts Elementary, 341 Thorn
• Coldwell Elementary, 4101 Altura
• Lee Elementary, 7710 Pandora
• Stanton Elementary, 5414 Hondo Pass
• Tom Lea Elementary, 4851Marcus Uribe
• Putnam Elementary, 6508 Fiesta
• Hillside Elementary, 4500 Clifton
• Hawkins Elementary, 5816 Stephenson

***

***IDEA to provide breakfast, lunch to students, family & staff; childcare also available for parents working in essential fields  (3/14/2020)

We will be providing breakfast and lunch for IDEA students, families and staff who need food at all schools, beginning March 23.

While our schools are closed, we will also provide free weekday childcare at specific campuses for IDEA parents working in jobs essential to community health and safety, including health care workers and first responders, and other essential personnel.

IDEA El Paso has also compiled an online guide for help; to view, click here.

***

***Texas Tech University Health Science Center El Paso Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Update  (3/14/2020)

On Friday evening, March 13, El Paso health officials reported the first person infected with COVID-19 in our city. We are working closely with public health officials to gather as much available information as possible.

Due to the recent update from El Paso health officials, and in an effort to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in our area, we will implement the following actions:

  • Classes for all schools – the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences – will be canceled from March 17 through March 20. Students are not to report to campus. Instruction will continue via distance education/online delivery on Monday, March 23. Deans and faculty will contact students with more details.
  • Faculty from all three schools will be utilizing the week to finalize procedures to begin distance education/online delivery on Monday, March 23, 2020 until further notice. On-campus student education (e.g. labs, simulation instruction, etc.) are discouraged and will only be allowed if there are no reasonable alternatives.
  • Clinical rotations will continue for third- and fourth-year Foster School of Medicine students as well as students from the Hunt School of Nursing.
  • Clinical personnel will remain on duty at clinical sites.
  • Faculty and staff on duty can continue to go to campus as long as there is “no increased risk relative to the general population.” Telecommuting options by all department heads should be seriously considered and in the coming days, implementing procedures to facilitate telecommuting should be of top priority. Essential staff is expected to remain on duty on campus unless otherwise directed by the Dean or VP.
  • Faculty and staff who continue to come to campus will adhere to social distancing protocols (e.g. no large group gatherings, reminders about hygiene, etc.)

For more information, please visit ttuhscep.edu/coronavirus.

***

***City of El Paso Friday night confirmed the first presumptive case of Coronavirus in the area. (3/13/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the first presumptive positive test result for COVID-19 in the area. The male patient in his 40’s who has history of recent domestic travel. He is now recovering at home.

The test was performed at the City of El Paso Department of Public Health Laboratory. DPH epidemiology staff is identifying any close contacts of the patient while he was sick so they can be closely monitored for symptoms.

Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization.

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

“It is important that our community realize that the COVID-19 virus is not an airborne disease and it requires a mode of transmission such as a cough or sneeze,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.

“The Department of Public Health and our partnering agencies in West Texas have been preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 since it was first identified in China and began spreading to other countries. Planning has been going on continuously for laboratory testing, public health investigation and isolation and care for people who test positive.”

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

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

***

***El Paso Municipal Court – Hearings set for Downtown EP cancelled, reset.

Hearings scheduled Downtown at 810 E. Overland during March 16 through March 20, 2020 will be cancelled and reset. Notices will be mailed out once a new hearing is set.

Northeast Hearings scheduled at 9600 Dyer will remain as scheduled. The court encourages individuals to utilize the video arraignment option at 10780-A Pebble Hills, 4801 Osborne or 9011 Escobar to speak with the Northeast Judge.

Municipal Court Jury Trials scheduled for March 26 and 27, 2020 are cancelled.

All Municipal Court activities to include Juvenile Case Management Classes, Youth Delinquency Prevention Classes, and Teen Court will be suspended for the month of March.

For questions call 915-212-0215.

***

***President Trump declares National Emergency (3/13/2020)

Speaking from the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon that he is declaring the Coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.

“I am officially declaring a national emergency.” Adding that emergency declaration would open up $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.

The President also said that Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would be granted emergency authority to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients.

Watch the President’s full news conference via this link.

***

***Texas governor declares statewide emergency (3/13/2020)

Texas governor declares statewide emergency, says state will soon be able to test thousands (via The Texas Tribune)

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday declared that the new coronavirus is a statewide public health disaster said that Texas is on the verge of being able to significantly ramp up its testing capacity.  Click here to read full story

***

*** City of El Paso, El Paso County issue Declarations of Local Disaster (3/13/2020)

Today, the County and City of El Paso held a joint press conference to announce Declarations of Local Disaster Due to the Public Health Emergency relating to COVID-19. This announcement follows Governor Greg Abbott’s Declaration of a State of Disaster in all counties due to the outbreak and the continued efforts to combat the virus. It is a priority that your local governments are aligned with the state and federal governments in protecting and caring for our communities.

The Declaration of Local Disaster and Public Health Emergency allows the County to take necessary measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to disease, as well as control the risk and prevent the spread of the virus. The County of El Paso is committed to continue collaborative work in the region to ensure all appropriate and necessary measures are taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The County of El Paso is working to implement aggressive and actionable plans to slow the transmission of COVID-19 in an effort to reduce illness and minimize social and economic impacts. The County will address issues related to Public Safety, General Services, Courts and Justice operations as well as internal services.

We ask every member of our community to remain calm, to not stockpile supplies (medication, paper goods, water, food, etc.), and to seek medical attention if you are experiencing fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19. It is also important to note that testing is available locally and the testing process also occurs here in this community.

Event/Activity Cancellations – In the interest of the public’s health and safety, The County of El Paso has taken action to suspend activities and events being held at the Sportspark and Ascarate Park. This includes all tournament play and all scheduled events. The County has also suspended all travel for its employees until further notice.

The El Paso County Sports Commission is postpoing all events indefinitely beginning March 15, 2020 at midnight.

The County will be utilizing electronic/digital methods for conducting public and internal meetings as much as possible. Also, those scheduled for jury duty will be excused from service starting today, March 13, 2020 through April 1, 2020. Those jurors will be rescheduled for a later date.

Please rest assured that your County government is open for business. The measures we are taking are done so in an abundance of caution and are intended to keep residents safe and healthy.

We continue to urge all residents to follow the guidelines below to help prevent the spread of COVID-19: (Source page here)

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

Click here to view the Declaration of Local Disaster, and click here to view an updated notice from the Council of Judges.

***

***UTEP releases information on responses to the COVID-19 virus; College will move to ‘remote delivery of course content‘ where possible (3/12/2020)

UTEP senior leaders met again today to discuss responses to the COVID-19 virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended community mitigation strategies to help slow transmission of COVID-19 and in particular to protect individuals at increased risk for severe illness, including older adults and persons of any age with underlying health conditions.  

The State of Texas has declared an emergency, as has the federal government. This guidance implements new directives based on these events.

Goals

The University has established goals to guide our decisions:

1.     Keep students, faculty and staff healthy to the best of our ability.

2.     Complete the semester without disruption of educational progress.

3.     Participate in community mitigation strategies to slow the transmission of respiratory virus infections as recommended by public health experts.

4.     Otherwise, minimize disruptions to daily life and University operations.

It is not possible to anticipate every individual situation or to give everyone specific direction on the thousands of decisions made every day at UTEP. We are a large, complex organization. In several areas of this guidance, we have intentionally built in flexibility so that faculty, staff and students can make individual decisions based on their unique circumstances. As educated, creative people committed to our mission and the community we serve, we expect you to help each other and solve problems keeping the goals in mind. 

We also must anticipate potential additional changes in operations. We will continue to monitor events, and community health in particular, and adapt to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We will continue to communicate with all of you.

A Word to Our Students

There are a lot of things I love about UTEP students. You work hard. You are resourceful. You care for others. You are talented and intelligent.

We will do everything we can as faculty and staff to keep you on track for your degree. But this is going to require hard work and flexibility from you, too. We know that.

In every challenge, an opportunity. 

This is the time for each of you to take greater responsibility as emerging professionals and community leaders. I would ask each of you to renew your commitment to master the material in your courses this semester. More than that, I would also ask you to help each other and even pitch in to help your professors and your community.

General Guidance for All

·      If you feel sick, stay home.

·      Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

·      Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

·      Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

If you believe you have come into contact with the virus, contact a medical provider and limit exposure to others. If a fellow employee or student is exhibiting symptoms, encourage them to do the same.

Schedule and Teaching Modifications

In order to align with El Paso Community College and the public schools, and to allow faculty time to modify course delivery methods, face-to-face classes for the week of March 23-29 are canceled.

UTEP will remain open for faculty and staff. Business operations and student services will continue, while observing social distancing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Classes that are already taught by distance (hybrid or online) will continue as scheduled.

Clinical rotations for healthcare students will continue and will be subject to the guidance of the healthcare facility at which students work. 

Starting March 30, UTEP will move to remote delivery of course content wherever possible.

In cases where course content cannot be delivered remotely, such as some laboratories and performing arts courses, faculty should work to reconfigure their classes for alternative delivery that would achieve social distancing. In some cases that may mean moving to larger venues that will permit maintenance of adequate personal space. The Registrar’s Office will help with moving classes.

In those few cases where adaptation is not feasible, faculty members should seek approval of alternative plans from their chairs and deans.

Faculty should communicate directly with their students concerning plans for their courses.

The University is offering extensive training for faculty to transition their courses to distance or hybrid format. A list of available resources and scheduled training sessions is here.

Social Distancing

The Centers for Disease Control recommends implementing social distancing measures to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses.

Faculty and staff should increase physical space between people in your work areas to about 6 feet. 

Classes that remain in-person should also be reconfigured for the social distancing requirement.

Staff will use their discretion to minimize non-essential in-person meetings.

Wi-Fi and Campus Computing Centers

The campus remains open. There will be more information forthcoming about which computer labs will be open, staffed and cleaned in accordance with best health practices.

Telework or Work from Home

UTEP employees who are at increased risk of severe illness, or who work in offices where close proximity makes social distancing measures difficult, should discuss options for adjusting office locations, telework or working from home with their supervisor.

Every job is different. While most jobs require people to be here on campus, supervisors should review the responsibilities of their work unit and, when feasible, encourage their employees to telework when the mission of the unit can be accomplished without being physically present in the workplace.

Supervisors may also adjust schedules and working hours to meet social distancing guidance.

Public School Closures

Next week is spring break at UTEP and at local public schools. We expect faculty and staff have made plans for the care of their children during spring break.

Faculty and staff with unexpected childcare responsibilities caused by school closures should discuss options with their supervisor.

Employees are reminded that, in general, children should not accompany their parents to work. Given the disruption of activities for health-related reasons, this is particularly unwise at this time.

Cleaning

Janitorial staff have been instructed to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. 

While we recognize that supplies have been limited in local stores, offices are encouraged to try to have hand hygiene products readily available for visitors and employees.

Travel

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

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

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

Postponements and Cancellations

Faculty or staff that are hosting large gatherings (e.g. more than 250 people) will cancel these events or move to smaller groupings.

For University units that serve high-risk populations – particularly the elderly or those with underlying health conditions – gatherings of more than 10 people will be canceled.

In accordance with the declaration of a state of emergency in Texas, we expect other large gatherings by organizations renting space from the University, including those at the Don Haskins Center, will be postponed.

***

*** EPCC Update – As of March 30th classes will only be Online; Classes for March 23-29 Cancelled (3/13/2020)

As we all have been monitoring, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been increasing across the state and nation.  While we still do not have confirmed cases in El Paso County, health authorities are urging organizations and the public to implement outbreak control measures.

This week community colleges throughout the nation and region have announced transitions from face-to-face classroom activities to online instructional methods and other social distancing tactics.

After thoughtful consideration about the best interest in the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and community, El Paso Community College will also be implementing similar measures.   We hope these proactive measures will help limit the COVID-19 risk to our campus community as these steps have been outlined by local, national and global health authorities to help reduce the spread of the virus.

EPCC will adopt the following steps regarding post-spring break classes, college events, operations and other resources:

Classes

  • Spring Break is scheduled for March 16-22nd.
  • Classes for the week of March 23rd to 29th are cancelled.
  • Minimester II courses will begin on March 30th and be seven weeks long.
  • On March 30th, classes will resume via online instruction for the duration of the semester. For help, please review the student or faculty Blackboard Instructional Continuity Guides.   For assistance logging in, you may email ithelpdesk@epcc.edu or call 915-831-6440.  Faculty will communicate specific course information with students via email and Blackboard.  Faculty with questions should contact their instructional dean.
  • Classes comprised of components that can’t be done online such as clinical, practicums and some labs will be handled on a case-by-case basis.   Students should contact their instructors.
  • To assist students, some support resources, including labs, libraries and tutoring centers will be open with health and safety protocols in place.  More details will be released soon.
  • Due dates for library materials that are currently checked out have been extended through April 30th.

Campus Operations

  • All faculty and staff should return to work on March 23rd and be on duty as usual.
  • During the week of March 23rd, supervisors will determine essential personnel in case more aggressive action needs to be taken.
  • Most campus buildings will remain open, and most campus operations will proceed normally.  Safety protocol guidelines are forthcoming.

Travel

  • All non-essential domestic and international college-related travel is suspended for at least the next 30 days, until April 17th.  At that point, we will evaluate to determine if that suspension will continue.
  • Students and employees are strongly encouraged to limit personal travel in efforts to curb the spread of this virus.
  • Until further notice, EPCC students and staff who have personal travel to a country or region with a CDC Risk Assessment of Level 2 or higher or states/cities with large confirmed outbreaks must report their travel. Students must call the VP’s Office of Student Enrollment and Services at 915-831-3134; employees must send an email to EmployeeRelations@epcc.edu or call 915-831-6630.  Upon return to El Paso, these individuals will be required to place themselves under home monitoring for a minimum of 14 days.  Before returning to work or school, students and employees who have travelled to high-risk areas must provide medical clearance to EmployeeRelations@epcc.edu before returning to campus.

Events

  • Campus meetings and other activities are now restricted to less than 50 participants until further notice.  Currently scheduled meetings and activities must be cancelled or limited to less than 50 participants
  • Events scheduled at the EPCC ASC will be cancelled through April 17th.  At that point, we will evaluate to determine if that suspension will continue.
  • Students, faculty and staff are urged to maintain consideration for appropriate social distancing.

EPCC Tejanos

  • All spring athletic competition is suspended as of March 13th for the remainder of the spring season.

We understand that this is a stressful situation and are doing our best to keep our campus community informed.   As this situation is rapidly evolving, please continue to visit the website, check college email and watch for Tejano Alerts for the latest updates affecting EPCC. We are aware that implementing these changes, especially with such short notice, will be a challenge for us all.

However, it is critical we do what is possible to mitigate the spread of this virus.   We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we navigate this situation.

***

***Update from TTUHSC El Paso on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

On Friday evening, March 13, El Paso health officials reported the first person infected with COVID-19 in our city. We are working closely with public health officials to gather as much available information as possible.

Due to the recent update from El Paso health officials, and in an effort to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in our area, we will implement the following actions:

  • Classes for all schools – the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences – will be canceled from March 17 through March 20. Students are not to report to campus. Instruction will continue via distance education/online delivery on Monday, March 23. Deans and faculty will contact students with more details.
  • Faculty from all three schools will be utilizing the week to finalize procedures to begin distance education/online delivery on Monday, March 23, 2020 until further notice. On-campus student education (e.g. labs, simulation instruction, etc.) are discouraged and will only be allowed if there are no reasonable alternatives.
  • Clinical rotations will continue for third- and fourth-year Foster School of Medicine students as well as students from the Hunt School of Nursing.
  • Clinical personnel will remain on duty at clinical sites.
  • Faculty and staff on duty can continue to go to campus as long as there is “no increased risk relative to the general population.” Telecommuting options by all department heads should be seriously considered and in the coming days, implementing procedures to facilitate telecommuting should be of top priority. Essential staff is expected to remain on duty on campus unless otherwise directed by the Dean or VP.
  • Faculty and staff who continue to come to campus will adhere to social distancing protocols (e.g. no large group gatherings, reminders about hygiene, etc.)

For more information, please visit ttuhscep.edu/coronavirus.

***

***Fabens ISD extends Spring Break until March 30th

Fabens ISD Spring Break for students and staff will be March 16-20, 2020. Schools will remain closed for students from March 23-27 and classes will resume on March 30, 2020

***

*** Clint ISD students will not return to school until April 6

Due to developments and increased concerns regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and out of an abundance of caution, Clint Independent School District students will not return to school following Spring Break and classes will not be in session for the week of March 23-27, 2020. Students will return on Monday, April 6

All student activities have been cancelled until further notice. All student and employee travel is also cancelled.

Please visit www.clintweb.net or follow us on social media for more information and updates.

***

***Ysleta ISD will close for one week after Spring Break thru March 27th; Weekday breakfast, lunch to be served via ‘drive by'(3/13/2020)

Due to heightened concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus, the Ysleta Independent School District has made the decision to close the week following Spring Break.

This means YISD will be closed for Spring Break (March 16-20), as well as the week that follows (March 23-27). Superintendent Dr. Xavier De La Torre will continue to closely monitor the situation, and re-evaluate whether to extend the closure prior to Monday, March 30.

In order to help minimize the impact to our families during the closure, 10 YISD schools will offer weekday breakfast and lunch meals to school-aged children between ages 1-18 on a drive-by basis during the week of March 23-27.

Vehicles will be allowed to pull up to the campuses listed below and receive breakfast (served from 7:30-8:30 a.m.) or lunch meals (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) for school-aged passengers inside the vehicle:

Bel Air Middle School
Del Valle Middle School
Parkland Middle School
Bel Air High School
Del Valle High School
Eastwood High School
Hanks High School
Parkland High School
Riverside High School
Ysleta High School

School electronic devices have been sent home for students in grades 3-10, and YISD encourages students to engage in online learning opportunities during the closure. Students are also encouraged to read and engage in online learning opportunities that have been utilized throughout the school year. During this time off, the district will also be thoroughly sanitizing its campuses and district offices.

All YISD after-school activities, field trips, non-academic events, and large gatherings involving more than 150 people have been canceled until further notice. While the district fully recognizes how important extracurricular and non-academic activities are to students, it must err on the side of caution. Where possible and safe, YISD will try to maintain as much normalcy as possible in students’ routines.

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

***

*** Closing of Catholic Schools until March 30th  (3/13/2020)

Out of an abundance of caution, the Diocese of El Paso has extended the already-scheduled Spring Break for one more week. Students and staff will return on Monday, March 30.

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

***

***City of Socorro suspends services (3/13/2020)

In the interest of protecting the public’s health and safety from the evolving Coronavirus/COVID- 19 pandemic, the City of Socorro will be supporting the efforts set in place by the County of El Paso & our inter-local health authority, the City of El Paso’s Health Department.

To prevent the potential spread of the virus in our community we have set up the following precautionary and proactive measures:

• Courts held at Socorro Municipal Courthouse have been suspended
• Youth & Senior Programming have been suspended

 There is no cause for panic. These steps implemented are out of an abundance of caution and intended to protect our residents, and visitors.

***

*** Workforce Solutions Borderplex shares Job Center and Hiring Event Updates (3/13/2020)

In response to concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Workforce Solutions Borderplex (WSB) will open its job centers on a delayed start at 10:00am, next Monday, March 16th.  This will allow WSB staff to expand and prepare their workspaces and create the extra distance job seekers may need as they come into the centers for services.

“We recognize that many businesses are closing indefinitely and so many people are facing the fact that they are simply out of work.  Our job center doors will remain open and we are eager to assist the workforce and any individuals who are worried about loss of wages,” said Leila Melendez, CEO of WSB.  “Our staff provides effective job search support and we can help navigate unemployment benefits.”

WSB job centers will maintain a clean environment, as stated by its facilities manager, “To protect our public and staff from commonly spread illnesses, our facilities have utilized Sherman Williams Microbicidal Paint the past two years.

This technology kills pathogens within two hours of contact. In addition, our janitorial services perform multiple rounds of thorough cleaning methods throughout our centers and offices. We will be addressing the COVID-19 developments by incorporating additional measures to disinfect and maintain a healthy environment.”

All hiring events are postponed until further notice, including the JobCon scheduled for April 1st at Eastlake High School in Socorro Independent School District (SISD).

WSB will keep the public updated on developments on a COVID-19 information website accessible by clicking the header at www.borderplexjobs.com.  It is understood that employees throughout the city have been and will continue be working remotely in the coming weeks.  WSB has provided helpful resources, links and tutorials on how to use Zoom, Skype, and other remote systems on its website.

Regarding unemployment benefits and temporary assistance, WSB is awaiting guidance from state officials. The public will be notified as the organization receives updates.

The WSB Job Centers can be found at these locations:

Alpine Center

Ward Center Plaza

710 E. Holland, Suite 2 Alpine, TX 79830

Downtown Center

501 N. Oregon St. El Paso, TX 79901

Horizon Center

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

Job Link Site

6351 South Desert El Paso, TX 79932

Lower Valley Center

8825 N. Loop, Suite 122 El Paso, TX 79907

Military Affiliated Satellite Center Building 503A, Rm. 127 Pershing Road Fort Bliss, TX 79906

Northeast Center

8941 Dyer St. El Paso, TX 79904

Presidio Center

100 E. Market St., Unit 6-B

Presidio, TX 79845

***

***All Events at the El Paso County Coliseum, Events Center Postponed Indefinitely  (3/13/2020)

The County of El Paso, in a joint press conference this afternoon with the City of El Paso, has announced in a joint city/county effort, that all public gatherings shall be limited to reduce the exposure and transmission of the COVID-19 Virus (Coronavirus).

In response to this announcement, the El Paso County Coliseum is postponing all events on the Coliseum grounds indefinitely to allow proper risk assessments and to ensure public safety.

The El Paso County Coliseum will suspend activity Sunday night at midnight. Further details to follow regarding these postponed dates.

The El Paso County Coliseum Box Office will have additional information on rescheduled events as soon as they are available. Please monitor the Coliseum Facebook page for schedule updates.

***

***NM Museum of Space History remains open, New Horizons Theater to Close Temporarily (3/13/2020)

The Tombaugh Education Building and New Horizons Dome Theater at the New Mexico Museum of Space History will be closed beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, until further notice.

“The safety and health of our guests is of the utmost importance to us and we felt it was in their best interest that the theater be temporarily closed during this health emergency,” said Museum Executive Director Chris Orwoll. Educator and Theater staff will telecommute during this time.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History, following the lead of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs and the recommendations of the Governor, is committed to making sure that its visitors and staff are in a safe, healthy environment.

To that end, the museum has instituted several policies including an increased schedule of disinfection for “high-touch” areas, removal or closure of some interactive exhibits, and cancellation of some public events such as the museum’s April 4th Trinity Site Motor Coach Tour, regular meetings and lectures, and outreach functions.

The museum remains open and on its regular schedule at this time. Visitors are encouraged to visit the museum’s website or facebook page for up to date information.

***

***Congresswoman Escobar Announces Office Changes to Mitigate COVID-19 Spread (3/13/2020)

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) announced changes to operations in her Washington, D.C. and El Paso offices that reflect the current public health recommendations.

“As a member of Congress, the health and safety of Americans is my top priority. In that spirit, my office will implement new measures to assist in preventing the spread of coronavirus,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and I encourage all El Pasoans to follow the CDC’s preventive measures.”

The changes include:

  • Beginning on Monday, March 16, all staff members and interns who work in the Washington, D.C. office will be required to telework, until further notice.
  • The El Paso office will remain open. Staff members will continue to receive and respond to telephone calls, provide casework assistance, and answer correspondence. Visitors that present symptoms of respiratory illness upon arrival will be asked to re-schedule the meeting.
  • At the direction of the Sergeant-at-Arms and in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician, the Capitol complex is closed to members of the general public, including tours, beginning today, March 13 until at least the end of the month.

Next week, in an effort to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and craft additional legislation responsive to El Pasoan’s needs, Congresswoman Escobar will meet with community leaders and experts and hold a telephone town hall meeting for constituents on Wednesday, March 18 at 10 a.m. MT.

The COVID-19 pandemic is emerging and rapidly evolving. We encourage El Pasoans to stay aware of updated information and guidance as it becomes available at www.cdc.gov.

***

***Remaining Dates On TobyMac Hits Deep 2020 Tour Postponed (3/13/2020)

“It is with a heavy heart but a responsible mind that I have to announce that the remaining 10 shows of the Hits Deep Tour are being postponed until August. We are at this very moment completely set up in Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock and regretfully, but responsibly won’t be able to play tonight. We love you guys and are so thankful for you. We encourage you to be safe, pray, and care for your families. We have faced so much lately, but I am holding on (with everything in me) to the promise that He will never leave or forsake us. He is a Good, Good, Father and I will stand on that.”– TobyMac

We are working diligently to reschedule all the shows in August. Please retain your tickets as they will be valid on the rescheduled dates. If for any reason you cannot attend the rescheduled date, a full refund will be available through your original point of purchase.

***

*** El Paso Water services shift online amid coronavirus concerns (3/13/2020)

With growing international concern about Coronavirus (COVID-19), El Paso Water is taking a series of measures to protect our employees and customers.

EPWater is temporarily limiting in-person interactions with customers to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Effective March 23, 2020, the Customer Service Center at 6400 Boeing Drive will close until further notice. The website offers multiple options for payment. Customers are encouraged to go to epwater.org/customer_service/pay_my_bill to find out how to pay online or by phone. Customers can also find payment locations that include many local Walmart stores.

EPWater has temporarily closed the New Installation Customer Service Center at 1154 Hawkins until further notice. The utility is still accepting and processing applications along with all required documents via mail, fax or email at newinstallations@epwater.org.

EPWater has placed a hold on all non-essential field appointments, including leak inspections and collection of payments. Customers are asked to respect that field personnel have been directed to limit all personal interactions with customers.

“These may seem like extreme measures, but we are doing everything in our power to protect the health of both our employees and customers,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew.

EPWater has provided internal guidance to cancel all non-essential training and meetings, and employee travel has been severely restricted.

Water and wastewater quality and reliability

EPWater has a plan to keep critical facilities staffed so drinking water and wastewater services will be available 24/7/365. EPWater advises customers that there is NO need to stockpile bottled water since the utility will continue to provide healthy, safe, reliable water from the tap.

EPWater has increased sanitary and disinfection measures at all facilities. Facility tours have been suspended until further notice. The TecH2O Learning Center is closed to walk-in visitors.

Through standard methods of disinfection, the utility’s water and wastewater treatment plants are more than capable of dealing with any type of virus, including the coronavirus.

“EPWater is committed to the health and safety of our employees and our customers as the spread of coronavirus evolves,” said Balliew. “Thank you for your trust in EPWater as we continue to provide you with safe, reliable water, wastewater and stormwater services.”

***

***Socorro ISD delaying school until Monday, April 6; all school activities cancelled (3/13/2020)

In the best interest of our students and staff of Socorro ISD and out of an abundance of caution, Socorro ISD will delay the return from spring intersession until Monday, April 6, 2020. All school activities are cancelled until further notice.

Below is Superintendent José Espinoza’s letter:

Dear Team SISD,

While we are on spring intersession and the world is carefully watching the development of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), I assure you that the safety and well-being of all students and staff in the Socorro Independent School District remains our top priority. We are being highly vigilant and closely monitoring the potential impact of COVID-19 in our community, state, nation and around the globe.

Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Socorro ISD or in El Paso County. However, we have taken proactive and precautionary measures for the past several weeks as a response to the onset and spread of COVID-19 around the world in order to ensure the well-being of all individuals in Team SISD.

We continue to seek the guidance of local, regional, state and national health authorities. We also have met with other area school districts to discuss the potential impact of COVID-19 and in turn the proactive actions we take. As we continue to gather vital information and collaborate with partner agencies, we are committed to work diligently to execute the best course of action to protect our El Paso community.

In the best interest of our students and staff of Socorro ISD and out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to delay the return from our Spring intersession until Monday, April 6, 2020. All school activities are cancelled up to this date as well.

 During our extended intersession, we will work to minimize the spread of potential illness in our community, continue meal services for students, and prepare for the possibility of distance learning to provide continuing education to our students.

I know our stakeholders have many questions, and we will do our best to answer all in a timely manner. However, we ask for your patience as our team continues to work through the many issues that must be addressed. Rest assured that we will communicate with you often as information becomes available and as we seek additional guidance from health authorities and the Texas Education Agency.

You can find more information at www.sisd.net/COVID19, and we will continue to update you as this situation develops. Team SISD staff members will get more details from their campus or department leaders regarding work schedules during this time period.

While we have canceled school through April 3rd, COVID-19 remains a fluid situation. Therefore, we will make decisions accordingly as we examine new developments. We are in uncharted territory, but I am confident our community will get through it with all of us being proactive to ensure a healthy environment.

 To prevent the spread of any and all diseases, we encourage all stakeholders to continue to practice social distancing and preventative measures such as frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and staying home if you are ill and have fever. Our community should consult the City of El Paso Public Health Department for the most recent COVID-19 information. On our website, we have a list of links for resources from the local health department, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) for additional preventative and precautionary actions.

As always, we are committed to KEEPING TEAM SISD SAFE! Every decision we make is made with our vision of educating and treating our students as if they are our very own children. We greatly value our teachers, support staff, and community as a whole. Again, please visit our district website and social media to stay informed! We appreciate your continued trust and support of the Socorro Independent School District.

Respectfully,

Signature

José Espinoza, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

***

*** IDEA Public Schools extend Spring Break through March 27th (3/13/2020)

All IDEA Public Schools will be extending Spring Break through March 27. IDEA Public Schools will reopen on Monday, March 30. If we need to extend further, we will keep our parents and staff updated as we learn more from health and education officials. Families can find more information and resources  via the IDEA website.

Additionally, We will be providing breakfast and lunch for IDEA students, families and staff who need food at all schools, beginning March 23.

While our schools are closed, we will also provide free weekday childcare at specific campuses for IDEA parents working in jobs essential to community health and safety, including health care workers and first responders, and other essential personnel.

***

***All UIL Contests Suspended Due to COVID-19 (3/13/2020)

AUSTIN — To support the health and safety of our students and communities, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is suspending all UIL sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Texas. Effective March 16, all UIL interscholastic competition is suspended through March 29.

Rehearsals and practices may be held at the discretion of the local school district.

“We are urging our member schools and their communities to stay vigilant and take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt.  “We understand there is a lot of uncertainty during this unprecedented time. Please know UIL leadership is working diligently to adjust to this rapidly evolving situation and will share updates as soon as possible.”

As this is a fluid situation, the UIL will continue to follow the direction of state and local officials to monitor this situation and will make additional announcements as needed. Please continue to check the UIL website and social media accounts for further updates.

***

***Cornyn Announces Waiver to Allow Lunches for Low-Income Students to Continue During School Coronavirus Closures

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the Texas Department of Agriculture’s request for a waiver that would allow them to continue to serve no-cost meals to low-income students during school closures.

The waiver negates the National School Lunch Act requirement that schools serve foods in a group setting, which will help curb the spread of coronavirus through social distancing and ensure students continue to receive much-needed meals.

“Millions of young Texans are eligible for free lunch programs, and families across the state rely on schools to provide their children with nutritious meals each day,” said Sen. Cornyn. “While closing schools is critical to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, I’m grateful to the Administration for realizing the toll these closures could take on some Texas children and families and ensuring access to school lunches will continue.”

***

*** Visitation for inmates at the Downtown Detention Facility and the Jail Annex suspended (3/13/2020)

Effective immediately on-site visitation for inmates housed at the Downtown Detention Facility or the Jail Annex Facility has been suspended until further notice.

In accordance with section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code, the Office of the Governor granted the request of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to suspend 37 Texas Administration Code 291.4 ( Visitation).

The suspension is in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor or until the disaster declaration is lifted or expires.

***

*** Sunland Derby to be Held Spectator-Free (3/13/2020)

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino announced today that the 17th annual Sunland Derby, as well as the Sunland Parks Oaks, will both run as scheduled next Sunday, March 22. However, due to recent concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus, the races will be run spectator-free. Individuals who are licensed by the New Mexico Racing Commission and the media will be the only people in attendance. Sunland Park is restricting access to all racetrack viewing areas, including the grandstands, Franklin’s Lounge, the Turf Club, and trackside viewing. Live simulcasting of other races will also be closed for the foreseeable future.

On Thursday, the New Mexico Department of Health issued a Public Health Order restricting “mass gatherings.”  The order is designed as a precautionary tool to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “The Sunland Derby consistently draws record crowds to the track,” said Ethan Linder, director of marketing for Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. “We have to do our part to help slow the spread of this virus,” he added.

The casino, hotel, and restaurant at Sunland Park will remain open and operate their normal hours, as per the order.

To ensure we are providing the safest environment possible for customers, we have upgraded our disinfection protocols:

  • Property-wide daily disinfection with hospital-grade electrostatic sprayers to minimize the spread of viruses
  • Additional staff assigned to continuous disinfection of casino and restaurant
  • Increased the number of hand sanitizing and disinfecting wipe stations located throughout the property.

“Excitement always builds in March as horse racing fans look forward to seeing elite horses compete, and cheering on the next Sunland Derby winner,” said Linder. “But as we finalize the field for next week’s big day, we can’t overlook the situation with coronavirus occurring around the world. We will continue to monitor the situation and post updates,” he said.

For the latest information, updates will be posted their website or Facebook page

***

*** Diocese of Las Cruces releases Directives and Memorandum for COVID-19

Bishop Peter Baldacchino has announced that all Catholics in the Diocese of Las Cruces are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Mass will, however, continue to be celebrated in parishes as regularly scheduled.
The Diocese encourages the faithful to stay home if they are ill, elderly or if they have compromised immune systems. People with infants and young children are also advised to avoid large gatherings, as are those who may be fearful of possible contagion for themselves and/or their families. Those not attending Mass are asked to find the Mass on TV, the radio or on-line and make a Spiritual Communion. Where that is not an option, it would be appropriate to pray the Liturgy of the Hours or the Rosary.
In addition, the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Las Cruces will follow the statewide school closure. The closure will take effect on March 16, and students will be allowed to return to school on Monday, April 6.
The Diocese is closely monitoring the situation and will post updates every Thursday, or as necessary.

***

***Canutillo ISD extends Spring Break through March 27th, out-of-town travel canceled (3/13/2020)

The growing concerns over COVID-19 (coronavirus) have led us to adjust our school calendar. The health of our employees and students is our top priority, and while there have been no cases in Canutillo or the El Paso area, we believe it is better to operate with caution.

In order to proactively protect the health and safety of our students and campus community, the Canutillo Independent School District has declared a week of emergency preparedness following the already-scheduled Spring Break. Spring Break is March 16-20 and the emergency preparedness week is March 23-27. Students and staff will return on Monday, March 30.

All out-of-town, school-related travel has been canceled indefinitely for students and staff.

We are coordinating all of the efforts with the Texas Education Agency, Office of Emergency Management and leadership at the City of El Paso, the County of El Paso, UTEP, EPCC, local hospitals, and other area school districts.

The district will use this additional time to deep clean our schools and buses.   We have made this decision to be proactive as families may be returning from spring break travel.  We know that many of our families use spring break as an opportunity for travel, please consider current state and national travel restrictions and CDC guidelines.

All facilities will be closed to the public March 16-27, 2020.  However, March 23-27, the district will offer a CHILD Nutrition program for all students at select campuses. A schedule of meal times and locations will be communicated next week.  WE ASK PARENTS TO CONTACT THEIR CHILD’S SCHOOL IF THEY HAVE NOT RECENTLY PROVIDED THE MOST UPDATED CONTACT INFORMATION.

***

*** EPISD extends spring break a week over COVID-19 concerns (3/13/2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

***Fabens ISD cancels school-related out of town travel (3/13/2020)

As a precautionary step, Fabens ISD has canceled all school-related out of town travel for students and staff. All other school-related activities, contests, performances, etc., within El Paso County will continue as normal, until further notice.

***

*** Bishop Seitz’s letter to the Diocese of El Paso on the Coronavirus (3/13/2020)

On Friday, Bishop Seitz released a letter to the people of God in the Diocese on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Dear Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Diocese of El Paso:

COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, was recently declared a global pandemic. The situation is evolving rapidly and in some
measure will impact us all.

Our faith community will make every effort to cooperate with public authorities in containing this public health threat. I am in regular
contact with our County Judge, Richard Samaniego, who has the responsibility of declaring a local emergency. All of us have a Christian responsibility to work to slow the spread of this virus and protect our brothers and sisters, especially those most vulnerable to the disease, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

The saving work of Jesus Christ present in the Church is necessary at a time like this. In this difficult time, we will continue to rely on
the grace of God that comes to us from prayer, the Eucharist and the Sacraments.

God never wills suffering. Our humanity is fragile, even in a global and connected world. But as St. Augustine teaches, God can bring
good even out of evil. I know that God will use this experience to deepen the spiritual fruits of our Lenten sacrifices and focus us more
deeply on the things in life that really matter – prayer, generosity and charity for our neighbor.

This situation will have financial ramifications for many, especially for the poor but also those with less stable employment, parents who need to work and are unable to provide childcare when schools close, university students unable to return home, and those without health insurance. The elderly and sick may feel isolation and loneliness. In the spirit of Lent, I ask all of us to cut out unnecessary things from our daily lives and to practice a spirit of gratitude and generosity to others.

Please also be conscious of your responsibility to support the work of the Church. Your parish and the entire Church is dependent
upon its weekly income to continue its work. Consider ways to continue your support even if you are unable to attend Sunday Eucharist. Online giving is a helpful option.

The Diocese of El Paso will continue to monitor the situation. Please be attentive to messages from MyParishApp. You can sign up at
your app store or text 88202.

In the meantime we will continue to apply the strong remedy of prayer for all of those affected by this diffi cult situation. And of course, let us pray for one another!

While the Coronavirus is not yet present in our region, there are steps we can take right now to do our part as a community of faith to
respond to this pandemic. The measures below take effect immediately in the Diocese of El Paso.

Bp. Mark

***

***NMSU announces two-week spring break for students, beginning Monday  (3/13/2020)

New Mexico State University is implementing a system-wide, two-week spring break for students, beginning Monday, March 16.

While coursework will not be held during these two weeks, it’s important to note that the university will remain open. On-campus housing will remain open. NMSU’s Health and Wellness Center, Corbett Center, Dining Services, Police, Fire and all other support services will remain open during this time.

NMSU is in continuous communication with regional government and educational partners in response to the escalating circumstances surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19). Additional information for students, faculty and staff will be disseminated by the end of today.

***

***EPCC Athletic Competition Suspended Due to COVID-19 (3/13/2020)

After much consideration about the safety of our student-athletes and campus community, EPCC has decided that effective immediately the EPCC Tejanos and Tejanas athletic competitions are suspended due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 risk.

This will affect the remaining season games for EPCC men’s baseball and women’s softball scheduled this spring, including the March 13 and 14 games scheduled with Frank Phillips College. EPCC’s Cross County and Half Marathon are not currently in season.

This was a difficult decision that was made with the well-being of all student-athletes, fans, coaches and staff in mind.

***

***CIRQUE DU SOLEIL CANCELS ALL REMAINING PERFORMANCES OF OVO IN EL PASO (3/13/2020)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and following the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of social distancing, all remaining performances of Cirque du Soleil’s OVO from March 13-15, 2020 at El Paso’s UTEP Don Haskins Center have been cancelled.

All ticket buyers will be refunded at the original point of purchase. Ticket buyers who bought their tickets through Ticketmaster will be issued an automatic refund onto the credit card used to purchase their tickets. No further action is required.

Cirque de Soleil’s Touring Show Division is currently revisiting OVO’s tour plans for the rest of 2020.

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is committed to providing a work and performance environment with the highest standard of health and safety. In collaboration with local health authorities and business partners, the company will continue to monitor this situation as it evolves and will share information as needed.

For further questions please contact Cirque du Soleil’s customer service team: 1-877-9-CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).

***

El Paso’s food bank is scrambling to feed hundreds of seniors during the coronavirus emergency. You can help

The city of El Paso has temporarily closed its senior centers to protect the population most at risk from the coronavirus. But the move has cut off about 900 senior citizens from their regular weekday lunches.

The community’s food bank, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger, is moving to quickly fill the nutrition void by assembling food boxes to be delivered to the affected seniors.

“So how it’s going to happen is there are 12 senior centers where those seniors typically would have gone to have their meals. And instead we’re going to have the boxes assembled, they’re going to drive up, they’re going to pop their trunk, we’re going to put a box in the trunk. And they’re going to drive off, so that they’ll have food items that they can basically sustain themselves during these times where it’s not possible for them to get the meals at the senior centers,” said Susan Goodell, CEO of El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.

The boxes contain cans and boxes of food. Each affected senior will receive a weekly box of food while the senior centers are closed, Goodell said.

The first 500 food boxes were assembled Saturday morning at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger warehouse in the Lower Valley by volunteers from the Wounded Warrior Project. Diana Martinez volunteered with her children, Denali Negron, 14, and Yadiel Negron, 12.

Diana Martinez and her children, Yadiel Negron, 12, and Denali Negron, 14, packed food boxes Saturday at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger warehouse. They were part of a group of volunteers from the Wounded Warriors Project who were preparing food boxes for senior citizens who can’t get lunch at senior centers during the coronavirus outbreak. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

 

“It’s important to make sure everybody has access to food,” Martinez said. She and her children have been volunteering at the food bank for about four months.

The food bank also is working with El Paso County to provide food to several hundred senior citizens who are homebound and in need of food assistance.

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger is delivering food boxes each weekday to about 900 senior citizens who normally get lunch at a city senior center. The centers are closed as part of the attempt to control the spread of coronavirus. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

The county typically provides four to six meals a week to these seniors. But because going outside the house for food could expose seniors to the coronavirus, the county and food bank are working to provide them with enough food for three meals a day, seven days a week, Goodell said.

“So we’re working with the county where we will provide food items for these seniors who are getting the prepared meals delivered to their door. We’re looking for things like cans of cling peaches or rice bowls, things that they don’t have to cook, because many of these seniors are not in a position to cook ingredients,” she said. “They need something that can be readily eaten. So we’re looking to supplement the hot meals the county provides.”

Goodell said El Pasoans Fighting Hunger is developing sites across the county where food boxes can be assembled and distributed.

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger needs donations and volunteer help during the coronavirus emergency.

 

The food bank asks that people donate money rather than food, because El Pasoans Fighting Hunger can create seven meals with each $1 donation.

Monetary donations can be made at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger website, by calling (915) 298-0353, or by mailing a check to El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, 9541 Plaza Circle, El Paso, TX 79927.

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger also needs volunteers to prepare food boxes for senior citizens. They are seeking healthy volunteers under age 60 to avoid exposing vulnerable people to illness. Volunteer applications can be made at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger website.

Author+Photographer: Bob Moore  | Video Courtesy – El Paso Matters

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

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

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

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

***ARCHIVE CONTENT FOLLOWS***

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

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

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

Facilities and programs impacted include:

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Team AEG Presents

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xavier De La Torre – Superintendent of Schools

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter released the following statement:

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

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

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

***

***Statement from USL and El Paso Locomotive:

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) STATEMENT:

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

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

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

***

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

 

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

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

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

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

***ARCHIVE CONTENT FOLLOWS***

*** Diocese of El Paso (3/4/2020)

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

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

Practice Good Personal Hygiene

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

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

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

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

Guidelines for Church Activities and Our Catholic Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add My Parish App

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

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

Bp. Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Health Laboratory Ready to Test for Coronavirus Locally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated information continues to be available via www.EPHealth.com and www.EPSalud.com.

***

El Paso Department of Public Health

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

***

UTEP

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

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

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

***

El Paso Community College

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

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

***

El Paso ISD

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

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

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

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

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

How do people become infected with coronavirus? 

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

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

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

How can I avoid coronavirus infection?

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

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

***

Socorro ISD

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

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

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

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

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

***

Canutillo ISD

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

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

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

Stop buying all the toilet paper. There’s no shortage if everyone takes only what they need.

Texans don’t need to rush out and stock up on groceries or household items: There’s no shortage if everyone takes only what they need.

That’s the message from Texas officials and industry representatives, who say preparing for a health disaster like the state’s COVID-19 outbreaks is different from a natural disaster.

“There is absolutely no need to go out and stockpile supplies,” Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday as he declared a statewide emergency. “This isn’t the type of situation like where we see with an oncoming hurricane.”

Dya Campos, a spokesperson for H-E-B, said the San Antonio-based grocery chain has been planning to meet coronavirus-inspired demand and echoed the governor’s advice.

H-E-B’s strategy to meet increased demand during the ongoing coronavirus crisis is to make sure people will find enough groceries in the stores for months— not to stock up for everyone to buy it all in a day or week.

“If we think long term, we can ease the panic … if our customers just relax knowing that we are not going to completely run out of product if we can just have the time to be able to restock our shelves,” she said.

Campos said there isn’t a shortage of products in the supply chain. Shelves are just temporarily empty because customers are buying items faster than trucks can deliver the products. But the stores are replenishing the items daily, she said.

Representatives for Albertsons, Kroger and Walmart did not respond to interview requests.

Joseph Welsh is a retail supermarket consultant and agrees that buyers are overreacting.

He said since grocery stores can’t suddenly increase their inventories for a spike in demand, they usually turn to limits on the number of items per customer and stick to their normal restocking schedule to conserve supplies.

The rush for groceries comes as cases of community spread have appeared in two of Texas’ largest urban areas. Federal and state health officials have encouraged people to slow the spread of coronavirus through social distancing. Businesses and local governments are taking heed by canceling large gatherings and telling employees to work from home.

The state’s capacity for testing people for the virus was limited to about 200 people per day but is expanding to thousands, Abbott said in his declaration of a health disaster Friday.

Campos said some H-E-B stores have started capping the number of essentials per person.

“We really just need Texans to realize that this is going to be a long-term situation,” Campos said. “Unlike a hurricane, [which is] three weeks of intensity and then clean up afterward, Texans need to be prepared for more long-term awareness of coronavirus,” Campos said.

Author: CARRINGTON TATUMThe Texas Tribune

Coronavirus in Texas

The latest updates on coronavirus in Texas: The state is experiencing a public health disaster as community spread has been discovered, at least 62 cases have been disclosed and people in each of the five largest urban areas have tested positive. Massive school district and college closures, countless event cancellations and calls for social distancing may disrupt commerce and Texans’ daily lives.

MORE IN THIS SERIES 

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune

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

What can Texas do if a coronavirus outbreak hits?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They can advise or order school districts to cancel classes, but Lakey said doing so may create other challenges, especially for parents who work during school hours or who rely on public schools to provide free or reduced-cost lunch.

The governor has the authority under state law to declare a disaster during a disease outbreak and to “control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area” — effectively giving him the power to place a city under lockdown.

The U.S. government also has broad authority to restrict travel; federal officials have already placed limits on international travel from China in hopes of limiting the arrival of visitors infected by the virus. President Donald Trump said this week that he was not considering any restrictions on domestic travel within the U.S.

Dennis Perrotta, a former Texas state epidemiologist, said placing parts of the state on lockdown is unlikely and would be unprecedented.

“It would be dramatic, and it has untold societal, political and health implications,” he said. “One would be hard-pressed to see that happen nowadays without really being at the edge.”

Local and state officials’ power is not unlimited in times of emergency. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued an emergency declaration this week that banned previously quarantined individuals from entering the city of San Antonio, but when he sued the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to stop the federal government from releasing quarantined people at Lackland Air Force Base, a federal judge quickly struck the suit down.

U.S. officials later agreed to change their policy for release as Nirenberg and Abbott had urged, requiring that patients test negative for the virus on two consecutive tests, and on Tuesday, more than 120 people living at the base were sent home.

Author: EDGAR WALTERSThe Texas Tribune

Here’s how many coronavirus cases there are in Texas – and everything else you need to know

Local and state officials in Texas are taking action to prevent the further spread of the new deadly strain of coronavirus that originated in China.

Texas is not yet home to “community spread” of the disease— but U.S. health officials warned it is a matter of when, not if, an outbreak hits the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know.

How many people in Texas have coronavirus?

There have been 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Texas, as of Monday. All of those were instances of people who got the disease overseas and then were brought to the San Antonio Lackland Air Force Base for quarantine.

Patients at the base confirmed or suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus were transferred from quarantine to the Texas Center for Infectious Disease or local hospitals to receive medical care in isolation, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

It’s not clear whether any of those patients diagnosed are Texans.

What’s the latest on coronavirus in Texas?

Passengers flying into select airports are being screened for the virus. Multiple universities have issued travel bans and canceled study abroad programs to and from China and also Italy, which has the highest number of cases outside Asia.

Rice University asked 17 individuals to self-quarantine after a research assistant had contact with a possible case of the virus while traveling. After returning from Italy, around 70 asymptomatic people from the University of Texas at San Antonio were also required to self-quarantine off campus for 14 days.

On Sunday, San Antonio health officials said someone with a “weakly positive” test result for the new coronavirus was briefly released from quarantine after testing negative twice. That person was the only person to test positive out of a group of 91 people who were evacuated from Wuhan, China, to San Antonio in February and quarantined for 14 days, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are notifying Texans who came into contact with the individual while that person was released.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said 122 people are being quarantined at the Air Force base who were on the Diamond Princess, a British cruise ship that had more than 700 people test positive for the virus. The people who tested negative at the base were expected to be released Monday, but Nirenberg issued an emergency proclamation demanding that the quarantine be extended until March 9.

Is coronavirus spreading person to person in Texas?

No. Right now, all the known Texas cases are people who were brought to San Antonio for quarantine.

The first instance of coronavirus spreading from person to person in the U.S. occurred in January, when a 60-year-old woman from Illinois contracted the virus in China and transferred the virus to her spouse, according to the CDC.

How many cases are there in the United States?

There were more than 100 cases in the United States as of Monday evening. Six people have died from the virus in the U.S. — all in Washington state, health officials said Monday. Globally, more than 3,000 people have died, and more than 90,000 have the disease.

How does coronavirus compare with the flu?

Coronavirus comes with seasonal flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Severe cases of the virus can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure. It also can be deadly for a small percentage of the population, according to the World Health Organization.

Similar to respiratory illnesses like the flu, coronavirus spreads from person-to-person contact, such as coughing, sneezing or touching infected surfaces, according to the CDC. Both diseases are especially dangerous for people who are older than 65, but the flu is more dangerous for children and pregnant women, according to The New York Times.

However, early reports indicate the coronavirus appears to be more contagious and has a higher fatality rate than the flu. Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine available to prevent or reduce cases of coronavirus.

What’s the fatality rate for coronavirus?

Estimated fatality rates for the disease range from 1% to 4%, higher than the seasonal flu’s 0.1%. But according to a paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the fatality rates for the elderly or people with other underlying health conditions can be much higher — as high as 14% for people over the age of 80.

It is important to note that it is very early and data is still being gathered, so the fatality rate for COVID-19 could change, according to PBS NewsHour.

According to a study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, of 45,000 confirmed Chinese patients, more than 81% of cases were mild and did not result in pneumonia or resulted only in mild pneumonia. The study said “considerable transmission” of coronavirus occurs when someone is in close contact with people with the virus, such as in family households.

Roughly 2.3% of people who contract coronavirus die, and 5% are considered “critical,” which means the patients suffered organ failure, respiratory failure or septic shock, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control study. But the fatality rate may be considerably less than 1% as more minimally symptomatic cases are detected, according to a report from The New England Journal of Medicine on 1,099 cases from China.

I saw a headline about a possible vaccine for the coronavirus. Is that good news?

While it is true researchers are testing possible solutions, they are almost certainly a long way off from a commercially available vaccine that could prevent the virus. Don’t expect anything immediate.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN it would take around a year for a potential vaccine to be approved. He said the vaccine would need to go through a Phase 1 clinical trial with a few dozen people for three months and then be tested in a second trial with hundreds of people for six to eight months, according to CNN.

Author:  MEGAN MENCHACA – The Texas Tribune

Coronavirus in Texas

Texas has 11 known coronavirus cases — all of them in the San Antonio area, as of March 2, 2020. All of those were instances of people who got the disease overseas and are now quarantined in the San Antonio Lackland Air Force Base.

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