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State health call center in El Paso closed because of virus case

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The Texas Health and Human Services office at 215 Padres Drive in El Paso.

EL PASO, Texas -- A Texas Health and Human Services Commission call center in El Paso’s Lower Valley has been closed temporarily after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, an agency employee in El Paso told Bob Moore at El Paso Matters.

HHSC spokeswoman Christine Mann would only say the “HHSC office at 215 Padres Drive in El Paso is closed for maintenance” and would reopen April 20. When asked if the closure was connected to Covid-19, Mann simply repeated her prior statement.

But the El Paso HHSC employee, who asked not to be identified because he or she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said the closure came in response to an employee testing positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

“An employee tested positive who works at that office but had not been to the office since April 3. They decided to close it until next Monday, but mind you there were at least 48 people working there since April 3,” the employee said.

The call center on Padres is used to conduct phone interviews with people about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, the employee said.

The call center is the second HHSC facility in El Paso to be impacted by the coronavirus. At least 20 cases have been traced to the agency’s El Paso Psychiatric Center at 4615 Alameda. Those cases involved both patients and employees at the center.

HHSC wouldn’t comment on the outbreak because it was barred by law from discussing patient or employee health, Mann said.

El Paso Matters

El Paso Matters is a member-supported nonpartisan media organization that uses journalism to expand civic capacity in our region.

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