It's no secret that El Paso is in the middle of a terrifying spike in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Because of those spikes, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and Mayor Dee Margo have put restrictions into place a week ago to try and slow down the spread. Unfortunately, those measures don't seem to be enough and Thursday afternoon, County Judge Samaniego put a two-week shutdown into place effective at midnight Friday.

During a very solemn online press conference, Samaniego said that he made the decision because of the 44% hospitalization rate, the continuing upward trajectory of infections, and the fact that we are approaching the point where if you need to be seen at a hospital, the services might not be available. He said that people who are dying aren't dying in Austin, they're dying in El Paso.

Samaniego said that for the next two weeks, all non-essential services will have to close. Samaniego said that he understands that will mean further financial stress for businesses that are already facing huge financial issues. He also said that we have seen the highest numbers in the wake of holidays and because of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas coming up so quickly one after the other, we are looking at a perfect storm of devastation for the El Paso community in terms of people getting sick and dying from COVID-19.

Samaniego did not mention the Governor or what he thinks of the decision to close down the County but he did say the governor does have the ability to step in and rescind Samaniego's stay at home order.

Here are the businesses that have to close:

Tattoo Parlors
Hair Salons
Nail Salons
Gyms
Massage businesses
Restaurants can be open for take out or drive thru but there is no in-person dining.

As I watched the press conference, I could tell that this has weighed heavily on Samaniego. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes for anything. There is no easy way to tell the small business community that is already struggling that they have to close their doors for two weeks. There is no easy way to tell people that they have to seriously consider not seeing their loved ones. But we are in a crisis, that much is clear. Please wear your masks. Please stay home. Please do what we all need to do in order to get through this horrible time.

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