El Paso made national news once again, this time due to the ridiculously high number of Coronavirus cases. The city now has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the United States. As of October 28th, there are 5,000 people hospitalized, 13,653 active cases, hospital/ICU beds have reached 100% capacity and almost 600 people have died. Residents are angry, tired, and scared.
We’re tired of hearing it: social distance, wear a mask, stay home. But have you wondered . . .
Which Masks Are Best?
Many of you are unsure which masks are best to use. It is important to understand how crucial it is to wear a mask and wear it correctly. THE MASK GOES OVER YOUR NOSE. According to the CDC website, in addition to the mask going completely over your mouth and nose, it has to fit snuggly with no gaps, and have two or more layers of washable breathable fabrics.
I decided to conduct a little experiment to see which mask was the most protective. Full disclosure: I am not a doctor nor am I a public health official. I advise you to follow all the CDC’s guidelines. However, I felt it was important to demonstrate which mask worked best.
I set up two empty wine glasses and put the outside of the masks into the wine glass. I used the blue surgical mask, which you can find anywhere like Sam's, Walmart, or Target. I also used a cloth mask with two layers of fabric, these can be found at most retail stores too.
I then poured red wine into both of the glasses with the mask to see which one would keep the wine from going through. I discovered that the surgical mask worked best. Not a single drop of wine went through the surgical mask!!! However, plenty of wine went through the cloth mask.
Obviously, the droplets that come out of our nose and mouth are too small to observe, but it is interesting to see that the surgical mask had more protection.
Although surgical masks do work best, cloth masks are better than nothing. For an extra level of protection, you can buy a filter for your mask, which are sold at most retail stores or online. Most double cloth fabric masks have a little hole where you can place a filter for an extra layer of protection.
It is important to remember wearing any form of face covering is better than wearing nothing.
Regulation Update: El Paso’s Response to the Rising COVID Cases:
The City converted the El Paso Convention Center into a makeshift hospital as a result of the overflow of patients from the local hospitals. Additionally, the state has deployed 900 medical personnel and medical supplies from across the state of Texas to El Paso in order to help with the growing number of patients. Along with the additional medical personnel and supplies, Gov. Greg Abbott requested to use the medical center in Fort Bliss for non Covid-19 patients in hopes to reduce the strain on local hospitals and contain the virus. The request is currently still pending. The city also ramped up Covid testing, and as of last week, 32,000 El Pasoans have been tested.
This is an extremely serious time. Many people are annoyed with the state of this pandemic, especially young people. However, that does not change anything. The cases are still rising, and the pandemic is not over, in fact, we are currently in the worst stages of it. We have to continue to work together as a community to stop the spread of the virus. That means washing your hands often, staying home, and of course, wearing your mask if you do go out in public.
New Local Rules:
As cases rise, the city is trying to contain the virus by implementing new rules (and trying to enforce old ones). Some of these rules are as follows:
- El Paso is now under curfew - Judge Samaniego enacted the curfew on October 25th. Residents must stay inside from 10 P.M. to 5 A.M. If you are caught out between these times, a $500 fine will be issued to you, unless you are going out for work or essential business.
- Judge Samaniego is urging high schools to pause their athletics for at least two weeks. (He has not asked UTEP athletics to do so.)
- He also asked residents to do their best to try and stay home for at least these next two weeks - except to vote. Residents are still strongly encouraged to vote, and Samaniego ensured us that voting is absolutely safe.
- Virtual learning has been extended.
- Parks are now closed.
- Restaurants and bars (“bar-restaurants” if you will) have to shut down at 9 P.M., but their drive-thrus can remain open. However, opened seating remains closed after 9 P.M. (This is not a new rule, but still something to keep in mind.)
- Outdoor gatherings have to remain under ten people.
- You cannot have home gatherings, so no parties or cook-outs. (This is the difficult one for many people.)
- If you are actively exercising and are able to remain six feet from the other people at the gym, you do not have to wear a mask. (It is still strongly encouraged.)
- The most important rule of all: WEAR A MASK. It is a $250 fine if you are caught in public without one.
As of right now, it does not look like another shut down will take place. El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, along with Judge Samaniego, spoke to Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday. They came to a consensus regarding stricter rules for El Paso. Instead of shutting down the city, they want police to strongly enforce these rules.
We’ll see if that actually happens . . .
Many El Pasoans are upset with the lack of restrictions on businesses, especially those “bar-restaurants.”
Stay safe, El Paso. Social distance, wash your hands, and wear your mask.
Get tested, if you are able to. If you feel uncomfortable in your work environment, ask your employer or supervisor to work from home or you can collaborate with your employer or colleagues to create an environment that is safe for you and your families.
El Paso is hurting. Each one of us has a responsibility to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We must listen to the experts, and individuals who have personally battled COVID-19 or have lost loved ones to this vile disease - it is a very traumatic experience.
If you or your loved one get admitted into the hospital for other health complications, you will still not be able to be with them due to the restriction on visitation. This situation is extremely sad and scary for everyone involved. Please do your part and remember your community needs you. If we want to see the end of the virus and go back to our “normal lives,” it is crucial we follow instructions.
We need to show our community what it means to be El Paso Strong.