EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)- Yesterday, the City of El Paso announced the creation of the “COVID-19 Enhanced Regional Public Health Partnership.”

This is a public-private partnership that aims to improve communication between public sector officials, private sector partners, and healthcare providers to strengthen the region’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership is fully funded through private donations and at no cost to taxpayers.

In addition, an international science and technology company that has been at the forefront of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Battelle, has been contracted to work with partnership leaders and provide hands-on support and guidance, according to a news release by the City.

“During these unprecedented times, our focus and priority remains the same: to ensure all our residents, especially our workers on the frontlines, remain safe and healthy, and that we put the right systems in place to stop the spread of coronavirus,” said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. “That is why we are drawing on the expertise of Battelle and working with leaders across the region in the public and private sectors to enhance our response to this historic public health crisis.” 

The COVID-19 Enhanced Regional Public Health Partnership will bring together leaders from local hospitals, community clinics, medical research centers, public health departments and foundations, and local businesses to support the efforts to slow down and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the El Paso areas.

“Through the partnership, we are evaluating testing, personal protective equipment, triage and monitoring plans, hospital surge capacity planning, bi-national coordination and communications,” said Dr. Nicole Brennan, Director of Health Research at Battelle, who has been stationed in El Paso as part of this new partnership. “One of our first orders of business is to make sure that we are able to get the right types of protective equipment into the hands of the nurses, doctors, grocery store workers, and others in the region who are at high-risk for infection.”

According to the release, Battelle has already worked with Ohio Department of Health in their response to coronavirus, are conducting in-vivo and in-vitro lab work for the Federal Government to test and evaluate COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines, and recently received FDA approval of a new personal protective equipment (PPE) decontamination system.

“In order for us to truly stabilize and control the spread of this virus, we must think and act regionally.  What happens in Ciudad Juarez impacts El Paso and vice versa, so one of the goals of this partnership is to create a regional response to COVID-19,” said Tracy Yellen, Chief Executive Officer of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. “We want to maximize and deploy our resources across the region, and that requires all of us to act collectively in our response.”

Earlier this week, Mayor Margo also announced the creation of the Economic Task Force, a group of business and community leaders who will focus on developing strategies to safely reopen El Paso businesses and get residents back to work.

“This public-private partnership offers an opportunity to leverage best practices and re-affirms our community’s commitment to implement promising processes,” said El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. “Although we are undergoing an incomparable period, the City is committed to staying focused on our obligation to our residents to promote a healthy, productive and safe community.”

According to the release, additional information about the “COVID-19 Enhanced Regional Public Health Partnership will be made available by the City of El Paso in the coming days.