The city issued a Stay Home, Work Safe order which went into effect Tuesday at midnight leaving much of El Paso looking like a ghost town.
El Paso Times
Here is the latest news on coronavirus in El Paso for Thursday, April 9.
We’ll be updating this story throughout the day with news from the city, county and state that impacts you, including cancellations, policy changes and information on where you can access relief services. We’re also tracking the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in El Paso County, Juárez and Texas.
Our coverage is focused on helping El Paso contribute to the country’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus.
If you have a news tip or update, email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe, El Paso.
Presumptive positive coronavirus cases in El Paso
There are 225 COVID-19 cases and one confirmed death in El Paso County as of Thursday afternoon.
There are 26 cases in Juárez and 10 confirmed coronavirus deaths.
The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting 10,230 cases and 199 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the state.
There are 989 cases in New Mexico, including 44 in Doña Ana County. There are 17 coronavirus deaths in the state.
El Paso County has first death related to COVID-19
[5:34 p.m.] Mayor Dee Margo announced the first COVID-19 death in El Paso, a man in his 80s who died in the hospital. Margo said there are 225 positive cases in the county.
Dr. Hector Ocaranza, city/county health authority, said epidemiological investigations identified instances of residents gathering and where some in those groups were infected with the virus.
Ocaranza also noted that there has been testing done through drive-thru and private providers. He gave an estimation of the number of tests conducted in El Paso.
“We have been trying to collect all that information, and we have an approximate number of 3,500 tests that have been done in El Paso,” Ocaranza said.
Asst. Fire Chief Jorge Rodriguez explained how officials arrived at that figure.
“We were able to communicate with not all of the private labs but a few individual ones, and they did have significant numbers that were returned to us,” Rodriguez said. “That does include all positive and negative cases in total.”
Otero County Processing Center employee, detained migrant contract COVID-19
An employee and a detained migrant have contracted the novel coronavirus COVID-19 at the Otero County Processing Center, according to Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso.
“Obviously this is a troubling situation which can escalate quickly in ways that will put detained persons, facility staff and surrounding communities at risk,” Las Americas said in a statement.
“ICE and management at Otero have a responsibility to take immediate steps to secure the safety and well being of all of these persons,” the statement said.
An ICE spokeswoman said she couldn’t immediately confirm the reported coronavirus cases.
School districts close for Good Friday, including meal services
El Paso County schools districts will not offer pickup meal services on Friday, since they are closed for Good Friday. The nine public school districts will resume the take-home meal service Monday, April 13, and hours and locations can be found here.
Major El Paso coronavirus news from Wednesday, April 8
El Paso County reported 192 COVID-19 cases Wednesday. The county saw its biggest spike in new cases that day, with a 39-case increase from Tuesday.
Juárez’s cases increased Wednesday to 16.
El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank announced a new drive-thry food distribution location Wednesday at Sunland Park Mall. That location will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday and Friday, starting April 10.
El Paso COVID-19 cases at 192
There are 192 COVID-19 cases in El Paso County, said a Wednesday evening city news release. That’s a 39 case increase from Tuesday.
Forty patients were hospitalized as of Wednesday, 12 of whom are in the intensive care unit, the city said.
“If we don’t stay at home, practice social distancing and wear the recommended face coverings when in public, it is only a matter of time before everyone knows someone who is infected in El Paso,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, local health authority. “We can prevent this by being proactive in our approach, but it will take all of us.”
The City of El Paso Public Health Department reported 39 new COVID-19 cases bringing the county’s total number to 192. There are now 40 patients who are hospitalized, and 12 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.
Read more: https://t.co/6vUGck869fpic.twitter.com/Kh0vsFMC49
— elpasotxgov (@ElPasoTXGov) April 9, 2020Sunland Park Mall partners with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank
The Washington Prime Group, owner of Sunland Park Mall, has partnered with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank to set-up a drive-thru Mega Pantry Distribution site at the mall, 750 Sunland Park Dr. They will begin distributing food on Friday, April 10.
The distribution schedule at Sunland Park Mall will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday and Friday until further notice.
Sunland Park Mall marks the fifth drive-thru distribution location and second in West El Paso the food bank has established in El Paso.
When One Grub Community was forced to close for Coronavirus, the restaurant’s garden continued to grow. They’re now selling boxes filled with herbs and veggies on a pay-what-you-can basis. The suggested donation is $20.
El Paso Times
Fort Bliss issues stay-at home order
Fort Bliss issued a stay-at-home order Wednesday for all military, personnel and families on the post to include all training areas, William Beaumont Army Medical Center and all government housing areas.
The order states residences are restricted to the assigned members of the household, with exception of childcare, home healthcare and eldercare workers. Travel to off-post facilities is limited to essential activities or to perform work in an essential business or government service.
All soldiers must remain at their normal place of residence between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. The curfew applies to soldiers living in barracks, on-post family housing, and off-post private residences.
Service members also can not go to off-post bars and other businesses closed by the city of El Paso. Individuals may go out for physical fitness as long as its in low-density areas where social distancing can be followed. All playgrounds on the post are closed.
Salvation Army to transport personal protective equipment to Texas cities
In partnership with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Salvation Amry has started providing transportation of essential personal protective equipment, or PPE, to Texas cities, according to a release Wednesday.
After an initial pilot program in Austin, the Salvation Army was asked to expand the service. Cities in each of the eight Regional Advisory Council areas including El Paso will serve as PPE pickup locations and delivery will be handled by The Salvation Army.
“The trucks and employees involved would typically be collecting furniture and donations for The Salvation Army Family Stores,” said Lt. Col. Ronnie Raymer, divisional commander of The Salvation Army in Texas. “While many of our essential services continue at this time, our stores are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are thrilled to pivot our local resources to serve alongside state and local agencies.”
Major El Paso coronavirus news from Tuesday, April 7
El Paso’s positive COVID-19 cases stand at 153, and Juárez’s at 14. There are now four coronavirus-related deaths in Juárez.
Hospitality workers affected by the closing of businesses can get wages doing shifts at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank thanks to an El Paso Community Foundation initiative. The initiative will provide wages of $10 an hour.
Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily closed state parks and historic sites to increase social distancing in Texas and prevent large gatherings.
The Hinojosa family had planned to travel to see their son graduate from Navy bootcamp but ceremonies cancelled for Coronavirus.
El Paso Times
YISD suspends meal service at Del Valle Middle
The Ysleta Independent School District announced Tuesday evening it has suspended meal service at Del Valle Middle School after an employee reported that two of their family members tested positive for COVID-19. The employee has not tested positive, YISD said in a news release.
The employee last worked at the middle school on April 1. The employee wore a mask and gloves, used hand sanitizer, practiced social distancing and did not display signs of illness, the district said.
The employee also had contact with Central Office workers on April 2.
All staff who have worked at Del Valle Middle School since March 30 are asked to self-quarantine, monitor their temperatures and contact their primary care doctors if they begin to experience symptoms. Central Office staff are asked to take similar precautions.
“Ysleta ISD is following all recommended health protocols, and has shared its plan of action with local health officials, who agreed it is both sound and proactive,” the district said in the release.
Del Valle families can pick up meals at Del Valle High School, at 950 Bordeaux Drive from 7:30 to 11 a.m.
Authorities confirm two more deaths in Juárez
Two women in Juárez have died from complications caused by COVID-19, according to the Chihuahua Ministry of Health, bringing the total number of deaths up to four.
The two new deaths were a 35-year-old woman who suffered from asthma when contracting the virus and a 40-year-old woman who suffered from high blood pressure as a comorbidity.
Two men, ages 45 and 49, died Saturday and Sunday.
El Pasoans asked to ‘unite with light’
The city of El Paso is asking residents to show support for local medical professionals and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic by lighting their home’s porch, balcony or windows at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The “Unite with Light” campaign will run every Friday, the city said in a news release.
In support of our medical professionals and 1st responders working to aid our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage residents to light their porch, apartment windows and balcony with candles, flashlights or any kind of light at 7:30PM every Friday #UniteWithLightEPpic.twitter.com/RqmbCERIoT
— elpasotxgov (@ElPasoTXGov) April 7, 2020New program provides jobless restaurant workers shifts at Food Bank
Restaurant workers affected by the closing of businesses can get wages doing shifts for the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank.
The El Paso Community Foundation announced Tuesday the Get Shift Done for El Paso initiative. The initiative will provide wages of $10 an hour to hospitality workers left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic.
Workers can register for shifts at https://www.getshiftdone.org/el-paso-worker-sign-up.
To donate to the program go to https://payments.epcf.org/getshiftdone.
Unemployment numbers released for March; most likely under-reported
The number of people filing for unemployment in El Paso County and five nearby rural counties was 16,253 in March, Workforce Solutions Borderplex reported Tuesday. Most of those people are in El Paso County.
By contrast, the number of people in the six-county region filing for unemployment in January was 1,175 and in February, 1,354. The other counties are Hudspeth, Culberson, Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio.
The number of people filing for unemployment in the El Paso area in March is likely under-reported because many people laid off or who lost work hours due to coronavirus-related business closures and operational cutbacks have been having trouble getting into the inundated Texas Workforce Commission unemployment filing system to make a claim, Workforce Solutions officials have said.
Last SlideNext SlideHealth Foundation to fund masks for medical providers, homeless shelters
The Paso del Norte Health Foundation approved a $40,000 grant to the El Paso County Medical Society for the purchase of 24,000 N95 masks for private practice physicians and nonprofit health care providers in El Paso, according to a press release Tuesday. It also has authorized the purchase of protective equipment for providers in Juárez as well.
“Outpatient physicians are the first line of healthcare providers to see the majority of coronavirus patients who are not sick enough to require hospital care, but maybe just as infectious,” said Dr. Alison Day, president of the El Paso County Medical Society. “By keeping more clinical staff infection-free, there is increased medical staffing capacity in El Paso that may be required in a surge situation.”
The El Paso County Medical Society will purchase and distribute masks to local physicians and nonprofit providers on a priority basis.
The Health Foundation has also granted $7,500 to the Rescue Mission of El Paso to purchase supplies for the production and distribution of hand-made masks for staff and volunteers of homeless shelters across El Paso.
For more information: https://www.epcovid19.org/
TWC funds child care subsidies for essential workers
The Texas Workforce Commission has allocated an extra $40 million to provide childcare subsidies for essential employees during the coronavirus pandemic, the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region said Tuesday in a news release.
Funds are available for children aged 12 and under, the YWCA said.
Parents can apply here. Workforce Solutions Borderplex staff will then contact parents for additional information.
State parks, historic sites temporarily closed
Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced the temporary closure of all state parks and historic sites. The move is aimed at increasing social distancing in the state and preventing large gatherings, according to a news release.
“I urge all Texans to continue to stay at home except for essential services as we respond to COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement. “By following these social distance practices, we will overcome this challenge together.”
The state parks close at the end of business Tuesday, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Major El Paso coronavirus news from Monday, April 6
El Paso County’s COVID-19 cases increased by 10, rising to 125, Mayor Dee Margo said at a Monday news conference. Twenty-seven COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, he said.
Juárez reported its first two coronavirus-related deaths Monday. The victims were males in their 40s and died over the weekend, the state of Chihuahua’s deputy director of epidemiology said.
El Paso Community College is moving all its summer classes online. EPCC’s summer session begins May 26.
Last SlideNext SlideEPCC moves summer classes online
El Paso Community College announced Monday its summer courses will be moved online due to the continued impact COVID-19 is expected to have in El Paso.
“We have weighed all the information available carefully and made this difficult decision in the best interest of the health and well being of our students and campus community,” EPCC said in a statement.
The community college is waiving the $50 distance education fee for summer courses, which begin May 26.
The University of Texas at El Paso announced March 27 its Maymester will be moved online and it is currently only enrolling students in online summer courses. “If the situation changes, we will open face-to-face sections,” UTEP President Heather Wilson said.
Foster, Hunt Family Foundations match grant to assist El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank
The Paul L. Foster Family Foundation and the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation, in partnership with the MountainStar Sports Group Foundation, have established a matching grant program of $1,000,000 to assist El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, according to a release Monday.
The gift will enable the food bank to continue providing food and nutrition assistance to the hundreds of thousands of El Pasoans who are especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis.
“As more families face new financial constraints due to COVID-19, we wanted to help make sure those families are still able to put food on their tables and that nobody in our community suffers from hunger during this crisis,” said Woody L. Hunt, co-owner of MountainStar Sports Group and chairman of the Hunt Family Foundation.
Due to COVID-19, the food bank has seen a surge in families accessing their services, but a decline in volunteers, which has resulted in long lines and wait times as families show up to the food bank.
Santa Teresa port of entry shortens hours
The Santa Teresa port of entry just west of El Paso will begin closing early, at 10 p.m., starting Monday, April 6, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Regular crossing hours run 6 a.m. to midnight. The port will return to normal operations once travel restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border are lifted.
The cutback in hours doesn’t affect commercial traffic hours, CBP said.
CBP noted that, border-wide, vehicle traffic has dropped 72% and pedestrian crossings have fallen 83% since the travel restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus were put in place March 21.
The border isn’t “closed,” CBP said; crossings remain open to “essential travel and trade operations.”
In New Mexico, the Columbus port of entry remains open 24 hours. El Paso ports of entry also remain open 24 hours.
Scenic Drive closes to public
Scenic Drive is closed to both vehicles and pedestrians as part of the city of El Paso’s social distancing efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The popular mountain road was closed down by the city on Saturday. The closure is until further notice. The city’s stay-at-home order also closed parks and bans gatherings.
El Paso food bank adjusts emergency food schedule
El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank’s COVID-19 response team has modified its emergency food box drive-thru distribution schedule to ensure broad coverage across El Paso County.
The new schedule is as follows:
West: Abundant Living Faith Center West at 7100 N. Desert Blvd. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Central: Kelly Center for Hunger Relief at 915 N. Florence St. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Northeast: Katie’s Pantry at 4801 Sun Valley Drive from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.East / Socorro / Clint / San Elizario / Fabens: El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Business Relief Fund to accept additional applications Monday
LiftFund will reopen the application process for grants at 7:30 a.m. April 3 to allow more small business owners to apply for loans from the El Paso Small Business Emergency Relief Program.
Officials said the website crashed the first time it opened due to the high number of applicants.
The window will be open for an additional 150 applicants and then close when filled, said Maria G. Mares, vice president of the Southwest Region of LiftFund.
“Our mutual interest is to support small business owners during this trying time. We know that grants are a favorable resource, but we also want to remind the community that LiftFund is offering small business loans up to $25,000 at 0% interest with a four month deferment, thanks to a partnership with the city and the county,” a press release stated.
Business owners are able to apply and may qualify for both a loan and a grant if they meet all the requirements including good credit before COVID-19.
Dinah Kilgore buys groceries for her elderly mother at Albertsons Thursday, March 19, at 5200 Montana Avenue in El Paso. Kilgore said she has groceries but she is now buying groceries for her elderly mother so that she doesn’t have to go out to the stores.
El Paso Times
El Paso announces stricter “Stay Home, Work Safe” order
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced amendments to the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order at a joint news conference Wednesday evening.
The order, which goes into effect 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, now prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people.
All city parks and recreation areas, including hike and bike trails, are now “off limits,” Margo said. East El Paso’s Red Sands area will be closed, as will the area near SISD’s Student Activities Center.
Commercial and residential construction projects will be allowed to continue only if they comply with social distancing requirements, institute staggered shifts, provide onsite hand-washing stations and give workers mandatory rest breaks, Margo said.
The “Stay Home, Work Safe” order remains in effect until further notice.
Anita Volf and Xavier Gonzales talk about how they are taking it one day at a time after both being laid-off recently Wednesday, April 1, in El Paso.
El Paso Times
Central Appraisal District grants automatic extension on personal property renditions
If you own a business in El Paso County and have tangible personal property used to produce income such as office equipment or inventory, you must report that property to the El Paso Central Appraisal District.
While the deadline to file a rendition is April 15, Chief Appraiser Dinah Kilgore is granting an automatic extension to May 15 for all business personal property accounts for the tax year 2020. Normally, a written request for an extension has to be submitted.
Examples of personal property include computers, desks, chairs, office supplies, business inventory, machinery and vehicles used to produce income, along with other items used in the business.
For more information: Jorge Rodriguez, 915-780-2068, or email at email@example.com.
Sun Metro implements ‘Seat Closed’ rule, stand-by buses
Effective immediately, Sun Metro will implement the ‘Seat Closed’ rule. Upon boarding from the rear doors, passengers will notice ‘Seat Closed’ signs on every other seat to make it easier for them to follow the more aggressive social distancing protocol of one seated passenger per row.
Highly utilized routes will have stand-by buses available to assist with transporting passengers.
Sun Metro is waiving fares to limit exposure among passengers and drivers. The city urges passengers to ride only for essential activities such as to get medications, health care, groceries or get to work if they are an essential worker.
Last SlideNext SlidePaso del Norte Health Foundation launches information hub
The Paso del Norte Health Foundation launched a COVID-19 information hub, EPcovid19.org, that includes information for parents, veterans, employers and employees.
The health foundation is also encouraging organizations to submit resources they have available by clicking the “Submit Community Resources” button on the website.
Last SlideNext SlideCity’s employment agency closes job centers, to work virtually
Workforce Solutions Borderplex closed all job centers to the public March 24. Resource rooms are no longer be available for internet, printing and computer access.
The employment agency will offer job assistance virtually. Job seekers should register at Work in Texas by creating a profile and then searching and applying for jobs at www.WorkInTexas.com.
Information: 915-887-2600; www.borderplexjobs.com/covid-19.
Public Health Department sets up hotline
The city’s Public Health department has set up a hotline focused on COVID-19 information. The number is: 915-212-6843.
The hotline is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Callers can speak to someone in English or Spanish. A language line will be able to translate more than 240 languages as well.
The 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.
El Paso senior centers provide curbside meals
All seniors, 60 and above, enrolled in the El Paso County Senior Noontime Meal program can pick up meals at the curb of all senior centers from 10 a.m. to noon every Tuesday.
The meal program consists of five pre-packaged or pre-cooked frozen meals, distributed by volunteers and employees of the Parks and Recreation Department and El Paso County.
All city senior centers remain closed otherwise.
Hospitals implement no-visitor policy
The Hospitals of Providence, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare and University Medical Center of El Paso started a no-visitor policy March 23. No visitors are allowed in the lobby or waiting rooms.
Exceptions to the policy will be made for:
laboring and post-partum patientspatients with disabilities or impairmentselderly patientspatients in the neonatal ICU (NICU) and pediatric unitspatients requiring surgery or other emergency or trauma-related medical procedurespatients requiring end-of-life care
One caregiver 18 years or older may accompany these patients; the visitor must pass established health-screening criteria upon entrance.
El Paso Children’s Hospital and Providence Children’s Hospital are limited to one parent/legal guardian at a time.
Albertsons, Walmart reserve senior shopping hours
El Paso Albertsons locations have set aside the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. window on Tuesday and Thursday for senior citizens and other at-risk populations, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.
Every Tuesday from March 24 through April 28, Walmart will set aside the 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. window before stores open for shoppers 60 and older.
Last SlideNext SlideHow to get tested for coronavirus in El Paso
The city of El Paso Department of Public Health on Friday released a step-by-step process on how the public can be tested for the coronavirus. Here’s more information about the process.
Last SlideNext SlideMap of Texas coronavirus cases by county
Our Data Central page includes an interactive map that tracks confirmed COVID-19 cases, recoveries, and deaths around the state, nation and world.
The map is updated automatically and shows a closeup of each [state] county. Or, zoom out to see numbers from around the nation and the world.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some people don’t have any symptoms at all. The most common symptoms resemble the flu and include fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some people also develop aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.
About 1 in 6 people become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing, according to the World Health Organization. If you experience fever, cough and shortness of breath, call your doctor.
Symptoms may appear anywhere between two to 14 days after exposure, with the average patient seeing onset at around five days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Coronavirus safety tips
The CDC lists on their website safety tips everyone should follow:
Clean hands oftenAvoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed handsCover cough and sneezesPractice social distancing by putting space between yourself and othersStay home if you’re sickWear a facemask when around others if you’re sickClean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
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