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El Paso County Commissioners told census response rates drop, virus cases trend upward

EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso County Commissioners court welcomed an update on Monday about the participation rates of local residents in the 2020 census.

In 2010, El Paso’s self-return rate was very impressive at just over 70%

However, it has recently become clear that the self-return rate will trend at least a few percentage points lower for 2020.

El Paso's response rate is currently tracking at 65.9%.

That is actually several points higher than the state average and very nearly matches the national average.

Commissioner David Stout attributed some of the participation drop off to what he calls "scare tactics" from the Trump administration meant to intimidate immigrants and non-citizens from participating.

During a presentation on the census in El Paso, the community was also directly compared to other Texas border communities and their census numbers.

El Paso was found to have a significantly better response rate than Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb and Maverick counties.

All of those communities were found to have self-return rates in the mid 50's or worse.

Commissioners also spent the day covering several significant Covid-19 updates including how positivity rates have continued to go up again in the last several weeks.

City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said that El Paso’s recovery rate was good at over 80% but also added that there has been a 20% testing increase in the last several weeks, which unfortunately dovetails with an increase in Covid-19 cases.

That increase pushed the city's positivity rate back up to 8%.

Dr. Ocaranza did also comment upon the city's working closely with local schools to maintain a high level of preparedness for returning students.

“Their plans are very well crafted and we will keep providing close guidance on how to best bring the kids back for in person instruction," the doctor said.

Additionally, there was also an update to by the compliance task force which didn’t give specific numbers but said it has continued to crack down on businesses that were found to be ignoring Covid-19 precautions.

“With various stores, additional citations have been issued and we are consolidating those numbers now but it was a very active weekend for the team," said Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Jorge Rodriguez.

On Monday, commissioners also agreed to enter into a partnership with the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation.

Commissioners unanimously agreed that the partnership will promote strategic outreach to isolated El Paso residents and neighborhoods, giving them critical Covid-19 infection prevention strategies and flu season information.

News / Video

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon is an ABC-7 reporter who co-anchors Good Morning El Paso weekends.

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