City, county leaders disagree on restrictions as record 1,216 COVID-19 cases reported Saturday

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The worsening COVID-19 crisis continued in El Paso Saturday, as local health officials reported a record-shattering 1,216 new cases along with 75 delayed cases from the state. El Paso now has a staggering 10,826 active cases, an all-time high.

Adding to the stress of the situation is the rising number of hospitalizations, up to 715 on Saturday with 199 people in ICU and 85 on ventilators. All hospital metrics are record numbers.

One death was reported, however, the City has yet to identify the age or sex of the victim.

Earlier this week, Mayor Margo said it would be inappropriate to place the city on increased lockdown measures. Instead, he ‘encouraged’ the community to practice social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing as a way to combat the rapid spread of the virus in the community. Multiple times during Thursday’s press conference, Margo blamed young people as the cause for the rapid increase in cases, without admitting any shortcomings from the city’s response. Mayor Margo said he would close City Parks, and sports leagues would be canceled for the time being.

In stark contrast, County Judge Samaniego sent a letter to Governor Abbott asking for his support in allowing City and County leaders to impose further restrictions if the high number of COVID-19 cases do not drop.

Friday, County Commissioner David Stout wrote a scathing post on Facebook, rebuking Mayor Margo’s leadership on the COVID-19 crisis in El Paso as the number of positive cases skyrocket and the number of hospitalizations reaches a critical level.

“Mayor Margo washes his hands of his responsibility in all of this and proves his severe lack of leadership by passing the buck to the public, and the City, which has no clear strategy, is refusing the help of Battelle, which has so much experience in dealing with these situations, it would be a travesty to let them go,” Stout wrote. “C’mon, Mayor, admit that the City’s efforts have failed us, and use that powerful influence you promised us you’d have in Austin to get the Governor to give us a fighting chance and save lives! You are the one that pushed your way into trying to lead our community through this pandemic, so do it! If you aren’t able to, then quit excluding the County and limiting our and the public’s access to information, step aside, and FOLLOW OUR LEAD. It has become so clear to me that the City has no business running public health. It needs to come back to the County.”

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar has also been critical of the Mayor’s leadership through the current spike of cases.

The number of skyrocketing cases is not unique to El Paso. New cases in Juárez and Doña Ana County are also rapidly increasing.

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