El Paso coronavirus March 24 update: COVID-19 cases rise to 12
Here are the news stories on coronavirus in El Paso for Tuesday, March 24.
You can find all the latest coronavirus news here.
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Presumptive positive coronavirus cases in El Paso
There were 12 confirmed COVID-19 cases in El Paso County as of Tuesday evening.
There are four confirmed COVID-19 cases at Fort Bliss involving Army reservists with the 77th Human Resources Company out of New York.
There are five cases in Chihuahua state — four of them in Juárez.
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The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting 715 cases in Texas and 11 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the state.
There are 100 cases in New Mexico, including 13 in Doña Ana County.
El Paso confirms 12 COVID-10 cases
A twelfth El Paso resident has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, city officials announced. Earlier in the day, the city announced the eleventh case.
The city did not provide information about the age and gender of the latest patients, but the University of Texas at El Paso said two male university employees tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday.
The men traveled to an out-of-town event and returned to El Paso March 12, UTEP officials said in a news release. One had limited access to the campus’ Foster Stevens Basketball Center and Larry K. Durham Sports Center on March 13, UTEP said.
The two UTEP employees are in self-isolation and recovering at home.
El Paso begins drive-thru COVID-19 testing
A drive-thru testing site is open to health care workers, first responders and patients with a doctor’s order who meet testing criteria, the city Department of Public Health and Border Regional Advisory Council said in a news release.
A doctor must schedule an appointment at the drive-thru testing location, which the city has not disclosed.
“We are implementing a system so people who do not need emergency room care can be sampled and tested while not overwhelming the health care system,” said Wanda Helgesen, BorderRAC executive director.
Testing takes approximately 10 minutes and lab results will be available in three to five days, the release said.
City only picking up waste, garbage in gray bins
The city of El Paso is now only picking up waste that’s inside gray bins on collection days. Before, on collection days, customers could pay a fee and place extra bagged waste on the curb next to the bin.
“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,” a news release reads.
YISD expands meal distribution by additional 30 minutes
Ysleta ISD’s 14 drive-thru meal distribution sites will be open an extra 30 minutes, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Monday to Friday, the district said in a news release. Meals include a breakfast and lunch.
Meal distribution times for all nine public school districts, as well as Harmony Public Schools and IDEA Public Schools, can be found here.
El Paso family courts give directive for possession orders
The 65th District Court, 383rd District Court, 388th District Court and County Court-at-Law Number Five clarified what the city and county’s stay at home directive means for possession orders in suits affecting parent-child relationships.
Exchanges relating to the possession and access to children are considered essential activities under the stay at home order and should continue, according to the courts.
Mount Cristo Rey closes
Mount Cristo Rey is closed until further notice and all Holy Week activities have been canceled to help keep visitors and volunteers safe, according to the Mount Cristo Rey Restoration Committee.
“You will not be allowed to climb and are encouraged to stay home until this crisis passes,” a Facebook post states.
Texas Tech El Paso student in isolation after contracting COVID-19
The student has not been on the TTUHSC El Paso campus or in any affiliated clinics since returning to El Paso, the university said in a news release.
Greg Abbott confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths in Texas
During a Tuesday news conference at a Texas Department of Public Safety warehouse facility, Gov. Greg Abbott said 715 Texans have tested positive for COVID-19 across 65 counties. There have been 11 deaths in the state, Abbott said.
More than 11,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Texas to date.
Abbott said he’s issuing an executive order requiring hospitals to submit daily reports on hospital bed capacity and health care providers to submit daily reports on testing.
The governor maintained that a statewide stay-at-home order is not yet necessary.
“If you look at these stay-at-home orders, they’re very consistent with my executive order with one exception: My executive order allows people to gather in groups of no more than 10,” Abbott said.
Abbott continued that it is clear to him that “we may not be achieving the level of compliance that is needed.”
“I remain flexible in my statewide standard … and we will continue to evaluate based upon all the data whether or not there needs to be a heightened standard and stricter enforcement,” Abbott said.
El Paso Sheriff’s Office moves to online reports
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will refer callers that do not require a deputy to be on scene and are not “in progress” to complete reports online. Online reports can be filed at http://www.epcounty.com/sheriff/reportcrimesonline.htm.
People who need fingerprints can go from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Wednesdays to 3850 Justice Dr. Walk-ins are no longer permitted.
To retrieve personal property such as a car that has been held for evidence or safekeeping, contact the Sheriff’s Office by phone at 915-538-2283 to schedule an appointment.
El Paso lawmakers advocate for statewide shelter-in-place order
House Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to implement a statewide “stay-at-home” policy. Among the 65 lawmakers who signed were El Paso representatives César Blanco, Art Fierro, Mary González, Joe Moody and Lina Ortega.
“We recognize a statewide order of this magnitude will have an unprecedented impact on Texans and their livelihoods; we did not come to this decision lightly,” the letter states. “Each and every one of us are fully prepared to provide employees, employers, and families the necessary relief and support such an order will require. However, despite the hardship, the best science we have is clear that this is the best way forward for our state and our country.”
Sen. José Rodríguez is also calling for a statewide policy directing Texans to stay at home.
“I strongly support the executive orders issued last Thursday, but it is apparent that many are not heeding those orders, and further action is needed to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in our state,” Rodríguez said a separate letter to the governor.
Fort Bliss will close several gates to stop COVID-19 spread
Fort Bliss will be closing several gates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as it prepares to move up to Health Protective Condition Charlie later this week, the Army post said Tuesday.
Fort Bliss is currently at HPCon Bravo. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases on the Army post remains at four, all reservists from New York City at Fort Bliss for training.
Fort Bliss gate closures:
- Pvt. Minue Gate will close at its normal time of 9 a.m. Tuesday and will not reopen.
- Msg. Pena Gate will close at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
- Old Ironsides Gate will close at its normal time of 9 p.m. Wednesday.
- Constitution Gate will open, instead of Old Ironsides Gate, at 5 a.m. Thursday and remain open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
- Cassidy Gate will close at 9 p.m. Thursday and 24/7 operations will switch to Sheridan Gate.
- Once HPCon C is declared, Buffalo Soldier gate will be open 24/7 and the visitor center will close.
- Chafee Gate will be open 24/7 for commercial vehicles and food delivery services and the Chafee Gate exit will be open for all vehicle traffic.
City’s employment agency closes job centers, to work virtually
Workforce Solutions Borderplex has closed all job centers to the public effective Tuesday. Resource rooms will 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
El Paso implements ‘stay home, work safe’ order
El Paso officials issued a “stay safe, work safe” order Tuesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The order goes into effect 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, and will remain in place until further notice. Those found violating it could face a fine of up to $1,000 or be jailed for up to 180 days.
The order excludes emergency personnel, media, groceries, financial institutions, postal services and restaurants for take-out only.
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said issuing the order was not an easy decision.
“We’re dealing with lives versus livelihoods,” Margo said. “We’re trying to suppress this virus so we can get back to normal.”
You can read the order here.
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.
Quarantined soldiers to receive support
Soldiers in mandatory quarantine after returning to Fort Bliss from Europe will receive toiletries and other hygiene products thanks to a $60,000 grant to USO El Paso. The grant is from the El Paso Community Foundation and the Julie and Jim Cardwell Foundation.
There are already several soldiers on the ground on a 14-day observation protocol with more expected to arrive within the next several days, according to a news release.