Photo / Adriana Adame
El Paso is facing a surge in coronavirus cases, with as many as 1,148 new infections reported on Nov. 1. 17,496 cases are active. Three new deaths were reported, bringing the total number of deaths up to 602. There are 943 COVID-19 hospitalizations city-wide.
With all hospitals reaching maximum capacity, the El Paso Convention Center is being turned into a field hospital with a capacity of as many as 100 beds. El Paso Children’s Hospital is even receiving the overflow of patients from the University Medical Center of El Paso. El Paso patients also have the option to be transported to other Texas hospitals via airlift. To further aid the county, the State of Texas is sending in four medical mobile units.
To limit the spread of the virus, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the next two weeks beginning Sunday, Oct. 25. Not complying with the curfew could result in a fine of up to $500.
On Thursday, Oct. 29, Samaniego issued a two-week stay-at-home order that would close non-essential businesses. However, Mayor Dee Margo and the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that he does not have the authority to issue this measure, given that it contradicts the governor’s executive order. Samaniego asserts that his order is permitted under emergency powers and that only a court is able to determine the legality. A complicated legal battle is underway.
Because of the surge in cases, the SAT scheduled for Oct. 27 has been canceled. Students who still want to take the SAT must register through College Board with another local testing center. Students should stay informed on test center closings by checking College Board’s website.
According to EPISD’s website, high school students will return based on last name and designated days starting Monday, Nov. 9. The staggered schedule for students who chose a hybrid option will be as follows: Students with last names A-L will attend in-person-instruction Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesday will be virtual for all HS students. Students with last names M-Z will attend in-person-instruction Thursdays and Fridays.
Of course, the reopening plan is subject to change depending on the coronavirus surge and when it is deemed safe enough for students to return. EPISD has created a chart with the four stages of coronavirus cases and what requirements must be met in order for certain activities, including returning to school, to occur.