The COVID-19 numbers in El Paso County are out of control and our County Judge says that there seems to be no end in sight. County Judge Ricardo Samaniego took on El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, local restaurant owners, and even the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Governor Greg Abbott two weeks ago when he put a shutdown and stay at home order in place. The order was immediately challenged by pretty much everyone from restaurant owners to Margo and even the El Paso Police Department who refused to enforce the order. A court battle between Samaniego, a number of El Paso restaurants, and the Texas Attorney General was in court last week when the group filed a lawsuit against Samaniego. The group said that the order overturned Abbott's order and was illegal. The El Paso County Sheriff's Department and the Constables sided with Samaniego and said they would enforce the order and cited a number of restaurants for not following Samaniego's order. A couple of restaurants even had their licenses suspended for a time for not obeying the no in-restaurant dining order.

The lawsuit was heard last week by a state judge who said the order was legal and that it needed to be enforced. Samaniego spoke to a local news station this weekend and said that he might consider extending the order and even more shockingly reported that El Paso will need ten mobile morgues to handle the number of people who have died due to COVID-19. The investigations into those deaths take time and people are dying at a faster rate than the County Medical Examiner's office can handle. The fact that we needed four mobile morgues just last week was terrifying enough, but ten mobile morgues?

We need to follow the protocols for staying safe and keeping others safe. Wash your hands. Wear a mask, and stop gathering in homes. The holidays are right around the corner but if we don't do what we need to do, there will be a lot of empty seats at our tables. Please stay safe and keep others around you safe as well.