Congresswoman Escobar Statement on the Ongoing COVID-19 Crisis in El Paso
El Paso, Texas, October 30, 2020
(El Paso, TX) – Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) issued the following statement in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in El Paso:
“Early on in the pandemic, on April 30, 2020, I sent a letter to local leaders sharing information provided by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who warned that minority communities like El Paso would be as vulnerable to COVID-19 as those living in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. This vulnerability stems from the facts that minorities are more likely to be frontline and essential workers, and have underlying health conditions caused in part by lack of access to primary health care. Despite this, the City of El Paso exercised lax enforcement, granted waivers to groups hosting weddings and parties without any oversight, and has been unwilling to disclose the location of COVID-19 clusters.
“El Paso is now in a state of emergency; Nearly 600 El Pasoans have died from COVID-19, our hospitals and ICUs are at capacity, our morgues have run out of space, patients are being flown out of the community, and an alternate hospital has been set up at the convention center.
“Dr. Fauci’s ominous warning unfortunately proved to be true: Latinos represent 83% of our population but 92% of all cases and 90% of all COVID-19 deaths. Another well-respected national healthcare expert, Dr. Peter Hotez, has stated that what is happening in communities like El Paso is the ‘historic decimation of Hispanic communities.’
“It is unconscionable that in light of these facts, Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Mayor Dee Margo have told the public to ignore the efforts of County Judge Ricardo Samaniego as he attempts to stop the deaths and illness in our community.
“There is no doubt that a two week shut-down has significant negative impacts, especially on a community that has already suffered immensely. Had there been aggressive contact tracing, enforcement, full public disclosure, and a rejection of all waiver requests by the City, we wouldn’t be here. But we are, and the status quo is not a responsible option. Our healthcare workers are exhausted, both mentally and physically; our resources have been tapped; we are in a moment of catastrophe that is unsustainable.
“Back in March, Abbott seemed willing to allow local governments the flexibility to do whatever necessary to save lives, saying that ‘Local officials have the authority to implement more strict standards than I as governor have implemented in the state of Texas. If they choose to do so I would applaud them for doing so.’
“Governor Abbott must do the right thing: Allow the County to execute its order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents. Mayor Margo must work with the County to enforce the order. El Paso can’t wait any longer.
“El Pasoans, please stay safe, stay home, and take care of one another or we will not see the end of this crisis anytime soon. We all pray for our first responders, health care professionals, and essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic fighting to protect our community from any more deaths.”