EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to soar in El Paso, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego is urging independent school districts in El Paso County to suspend athletics for at least two weeks.
“We feel comfortable that we can recommend and encourage that they need to look at that [suspending athletics] themselves and determine if they feel that by doing that we lessen the mobility,” said Judge Samaniego. “There is a lot of mobility when it comes to sports, spectators, and so forth.”
Over the course of the first four weeks of the high school football season, 22 games have been postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 and spectators are no longer permitted at games.
“We have a great relationship with the superintendents at each one of the independent school districts. We are high recommending [suspending athletics] and encouraging that they look at that for at least two weeks to make sure. If things get worse, we don’t want the possibility of not allowing sports because our numbers get to such a point,” said Judge Samaniego.
The decision to suspend athletics does not come from the county. Each independent school district will make their own call on whether to allow high school athletics to continue, or, follow the county’s recommendation and suspend competition for two weeks.
KTSM reached out to the three major school districts in El Paso (El Paso ISD, Ysleta ISD, and Socorro ISD) requesting comment on the county’s recommendation to suspend athletics. Those requests were not met.
The UTEP football team is also playing through the pandemic, but Judge Samaniego saying college and professional sports is, “completely different” when it comes to any recommendations the county might have. As is stands, UTEP is currently allowing 18% capacity at Sun Bowl Stadium, or, roughly 8,600 fans. The Miners are scheduled to host North Texas on Saturday at 2 p.m. MT.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned to ktsm.com for the very latest.