EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso County Commissioner's Court met in special session on Wednesday for a town hall discussion hosted by Congresswoman Veronica Escobar on community response to Covid-19. (You can watch a replay the video player above.)
Escobar shared concerns over the impact El Paso will see due to the county's unique population.
She said with El Paso having a population that's 83% Hispanic and 4% African American, it presents major challenges since there have been more deaths and hospitalizations within minority populations across the U.S.
"In the minority communities throughout the country, African American, Latino and other groups are being devastated by this virus," she noted.
As far as testing, Escobar said neighboring Dona Ana County in New Mexico is testing at 5% of the population, while El Paso is testing at just 2.5% of the population.
"Clearly the level of testing right not is not sufficient and given the level of vulnerability," she explained. "I believe that testing should be given on a large scale in your region to identify the positives as quickly as possible."
The congresswoman said she hoped that in the future officials would create an international tri-state strategy to address the pandemic as a region to include El Paso, Dona Ana County and Mexico's Ciudad Juarez.
Medical experts Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Dr. James Hildreth, who also participated in the forum, offered their insights on what the El Paso region needs to do to aggressively fight the virus.
“Across the country, Latinos, African Americans, and other minority groups are being devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. That is why there needs to be a preemptive strategy to protect vulnerable populations and save lives,” explained Dr. Hildreth. “It is unethical to reopen our economy without providing the resources and means to empower vulnerable populations to take care of themselves and their loved ones.”
“In order to reopen our economy, states must target resources to vulnerable populations and meet identifiable benchmarks to reduce the spread of coronavirus,” added Dr. Gottlieb. “To prevent additional outbreaks and another epidemic, communities must open in a prudent and staged fashion, after the sustained reduction in new cases and hospitalizations, and when communities have in place the tools to manage illnesses, screening capacity, and the ability to do tracking and tracing.”