EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced he would not allow El Paso County bars to reopen amid ongoing spikes in new COVID-19 cases, especially among people in their 20s and 30s.
Samaniego had the sole discretion on whether to reopen bars after Governor Greg Abbott announced County Judges could make the call to reopen on a county-by-county basis. He cited the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in El Paso at 16 percent, and the number of total hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in the trauma service area is also at 13.6 percent as part of why he will not allow bars to reopen at this time.
He says El Paso is in Stage 2 in the Community Scorecard, which can be found at https://www.epstrong.org/results.php. The Community Scorecard is an assessment of the state of the COVID-19 pandemic within El Paso County. It is defined by 14 performance measures over 5 categories, each being assessed with scores between 1 and 4 (4 being the best).
“After consulting with our Local-Health Authority, Dr. Hector Ocaranza, and Mayor Margo, I have made the very difficult decision to not seek an exemption with TABC. As per the governor’s order, therefore, bars will remain closed in El Paso,” said County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego in a press release.
“I am very sympathetic to all of our business owners during these unprecedented times, especially our bar owners, however, the health and safety of our community must prevail,” Samaniego said. “During the next few weeks, rest assured that I will be in close communication with our health professionals, as well as other community leaders in the event that our situation gets better so that we may discuss the possibility of reopening’s at a later date.”