EL PASO, Texas -- City and county officials announced tougher restrictions Wednesday evening as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in El Paso rose to 68. (You can watch the entire news conference in the video player above.)
Mayor Dee Margo and County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said all parks and outdoor recreation facilities, golf courses and private clubs will be required to close as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
In addition, anyone traveling more than 100 miles outside El Paso must self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return, the leaders ordered.
Public and private social gatherings of any number of people are now prohibited under the new order. In announcing that change, Samaniego expressed regret for a house party that one of his children threw at his home over the weekend while he wasn't there.
"There orders are about saving lives," said Dr. Hector Ocaranza of the City/County Health Authority, who reported 18 additional El Pasoans had tested positive to raise the county's total infections from the virus to 68.
One of those new cases involved a former resident of an east El Paso nursing home, prompting testing of other residents at the facility.
Dr. Ocaranza said the virus patients numbered 38 women and 30 men, with these cases scattered throughout the entire community. (You can view the location map outlining these cases at the end of this article.)
Officials said the added directives supplement the existing "Stay Home, Work Safe" order issued by the city and county on March 23. Here's a more specific breakdown on the new additions to that order:
- All individuals living within the City of El Paso are directed to stay at home or at their place of residence unless they are performing essential duties, working in an essential business, government, etc. Public and Private gatherings of any number of people are prohibited.
- Any travel is restricted to approved activities. Anyone returning from travel of 100 miles or more outside the City must self-quarantine for 14 days.
- Any public of private gatherings at any recreational area, park, pool or recreational facility is prohibited. This includes hike and bike trails, whether formally recognized by the City or not; including, but not limited to any golfing in public or private courses; any gathering in school recreation areas, tennis clubs, and any other private recreational club; the area near Socorro Independent School District Student Activities Complex (“SAC”) located near 1300 Joe Battle Boulevard; all to include the use of any type of recreational vehicle at any outdoor area.
- Critical infrastructure and construction activities that are exempt are more clearly defined.
- Business owners must provide mandatory rest breaks of at least 15 minutes every four hours so workers can follow hygiene guidelines. Additionally, businesses can take no adverse action against an employee who has been quarantined or advised to self-quarantine due to possible exposure.
- The directive still allows the public to visit grocery stores, gas stations, and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of Covid-19.
Officials said residents can report non-compliance with the order by calling 3-1-1 or visiting www.EPStrong.org and following the instruction on the red banner at the top of the website’s homepage.
The complete stay-at-home order, updated with all the additional changes, can be viewed below. And beneath the new order, you'll find the latest map, demographic breakdown and other information on El Paso's virus cases.