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El Paso state leaders call for action after virus outbreak at state-run psychiatric center

El Paso Psychiatric Center
El Paso Matters
The El Paso Psychiatric Center.

EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso's elected state leaders are calling for the governor to take action to protect employees and patients at the El Paso Psychiatric Center.

"The delegation is concerned with the health of the residents and the employees at the facilities who are front line workers and providing care, and continuing to risk their lives," said State Rep. Cesar Blanco (D - El Paso) in an interview with ABC-7.

Rep. Blanco was appointed by the delegation to lead up the investigation into what led to the outbreak of Covid-19 at the psychiatric center, an in-patient facility that treats children and adults with mental disorders and mental illness.

This comes after Blanco and his fellow El Paso state representatives heard reports from ABC-7 and directly from psychiatric center employees about the Covid-19 outbreak. Blanco said he did not hear directly from officials at the psychiatric center about the contagion.

On Tuesday, ABC-7 reported employee allegations that psychiatric center supervisors did little to protect employees and patients from the spread of the highly contagious novel virus. One employee at the center died after testing positive for Covid-19. As of last week, 42 people at the psychiatric center had contracted the coronavirus.

"We feel the state can do more to ensure we're not taking any risks and risking lives at the psych center," Blanco said.

Blanco also said the six-member delegation, which consists of El Paso's five state representatives and one state senator, are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to make testing and personal protective equipment available for everyone at the facility.

"We also want to provide flexibility to state employees who can work from home and take time to self-quarantine under the 14-day guidelines to ensure their safety and the safety of their patients without any fear of consequences or any kind of retaliation from the state," Blanco added.

Additionally, the delegation is asking for Gov. Abbott to increase funding to alleviate employee turnover at the state-run facility. Blanco said the funding would also provide financial relief for employees who have been working overtime to care for the sick.

El Paso / News / Texas / Texas Politics

Stephanie Valle

Stephanie Valle co-anchors ABC-7 at 5, 6 and 10 weeknights.


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