El Paso officials update city on COVID-19

Julia Lucero, Contributor

In a press conference led by Mayor Oscar Leeser and County Judge Ricardo Samaniego Monday, July 18, it was announced that  68 percent of El Paso residents 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.79 percent of El Pasoans 12 years and older have received only one dose, Leeser said.  

“We cannot emphasize the importance of being vaccinated,” Leeser said. 

 Between July 7 and July 14 El Paso received 251 new COVID-19 cases, 76 percent of those cases were unvaccinated people, Leeser said. 

Leeser stated that 31 prercent of the new cases were due to travel and 10 percent required hospitalization..  

 As Delta Variant cases become more common in America, Leeser made it clear that Delta Variant testing is the same as the original COVID-19 variant testing and as of July 19 there are no active Delta Variant cases in El Paso. 

“When you become COVID positive, the quarantine and the treatment is no different regardless of which variant you may have,” Leeser said. 

Leeser and Samaniego are working with El Paso Del Norte Foundation and Behavioral Health Sciences at UTEP to figure out why those unvaccinated may be hesitant to receive the COVID vaccine, Samaniego said. 

“This agreement will provide us with the right strategies, so that we’ll be able to understand what we need to do,” Samaniego said.  

Using stats collected by El Paso Del Norte Foundation and UTEP, El Paso will be able to pinpoint the areas with less vaccinated people and reach out to them, Samaniego said.  

“It’s important to see that the country judge said we were one of the worst in the country, I’m going to clarify that, we were the worst in the country,” Leeser said. “What more incentive can you imagine than being the worst cities in the country that was COVID positive and the many of lives that we lost.”  

Leeser says that people should continue to wear face masks and understand their surroundings.  

 “Looking at me, looking at the county judge, you can’t tell whether I was vaccinated or not. So you need to take the precautions to protect yourself, your family, and your coworkers,” Leeser said.  

With funding from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, a distribution of money to provide help to those on the frontlines of the COVID response in the U.S, El Paso City bought a building across from the 911 center to be used as a COVID testing facility. Leeser says the testing site will be fully operating by the first week of August.  

Leeser thanked the county and their providers for their work, resulting in 79% of first vaccines and almost 70% of fully vaccinated individuals in El Paso.  

“I’m very proud that the country judge and I were able to really unite our communities and speak with one voice, and I think everyone here sees the results of what’s going on,” Leeser said.  

Julia Lucero may be reached at [email protected]