‘El Paso is facing an unprecedented crisis’: Samaniego says tighter restrictions coming if COVID numbers don’t go down


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — During a news conference on Thursday, County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego said that El Paso will see stricter restrictions if El Paso doesn’t see fewer COVID-19 cases.

He closed county parks, as well as the Ascarate Park golf course, and said that there will be stepped up efforts to enforce restrictions. The use of walking/biking trails and fishing at Ascarate is still allowed. However, the use of handball courts, basketball courts, tennis courts and pools are prohibited.

“If these temporary measures are not effective, I intend to impose further restrictions,” he said.

He’s also asking that residents temporarily “shutdown” for two weeks by limiting their time outside of the home as much as possible and by visiting grocery and retail stores as little as possible.

“It will be up to you, from our standpoint, there are certain things I  can and cannot do with the order, we’d like to be a role model for two weeks – two weeks, that’s all we’re asking from the community – give me the opportunity to understand what’s going on, which way we’re going and what we need to do to address this virus.”

The County’s response comes as the City reported 1,161 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a new record after weeks of highs in new cases, active cases, hospitalizations and number of people in the ICU.

Samaniego said that enforcement will be an important aspect of the County’s response to the COVID surge. A $250 fine will be imposed for those not wearing a mask while less than six feet from others.

He mentioned examples of people immediately taking off their mask after walking outside of a grocery store and then interacting with others in the parking lot.

In addition, efforts will be stepped up to ensure that businesses are cleared out by 9 p.m., Samaniego said.

He also read a letter that he is sending to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, urging him to approve the use of William Beaumont Army Medical Center as a resource that El Paso can use to treat COVID-19 patients.

The County is also asking all non-essential employees to work from home for two weeks, effective as of Friday at midnight.

You can watch the conference below:

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