Or, the subtitle of, We Just Can’t Be Botherd to Do Our Job. Stop Pointing This Out to Us,”
By Steven Zimmerman
Can you start an article by asking, “just what in the hell is going on at the County level!”
On 1 April 2020, San Elizario had it’s first diagnosed case of COVID-19. As I write, we are up to three and holding there.
Each afternoon, the County of El Paso, as well as the City of El Paso, provide an update to the media with current numbers for COVID-19. One of those numbers tracks recoveries. As of 13 April 2020, we have Countywide, forty-one recoveries.
Out of three-hundred (300), positive cases diagnosed in El Paso County, and we have forty-one (41) recoveries. That is a 14% recovery rate.
Today I decided to ask if the three people in the City of San Elizario who have tested positive are counted among those who have recovered, or if they are still fighting the virus. The answer I received floored me.
“We are not tracking the data to that depth,” responded Laura Cruz Acosta, Strategic Communications Director and point of contact for the media.
Let’s take a minute here and think about this.
In prior articles and updates, I’ve questioned the integrity of the numbers coming out of the County and City of El Paso. I’ve asked for how many people were tested outside of the El Paso County Department of Health.
The answer to that question was that they would have to pull staff off other duties to collect the numbers. These are numbers the County should already have.
Before the first COVID-19 death had been reported, I began to ask about it because it was reported to San Eli News well before the County released it.
I’ve gone back and forth with the County and City over how they handle just what information is passed on to a police officer when they are dispatched on a call. That answer, saying that the call takers are asking COVID-19 related questions, left much to be desired.
When we were told that we needed to take the temperatures of our employees before they come into work, I asked what other options we have since you cannot find a thermometer anywhere in the County. No one has bothered to respond to that question.
We are to trust the County of El Paso and believe the numbers they are sharing with us. That’s a hard one to do.
As I’ve mentioned in past COVID-19 updates, I noted that San Eli News had been provided information, from medical staff at different hospitals, of COVID related deaths. It concerns me that those numbers are either not being released or being released slowly for some unknown reason. The same seems to be true for the number of people testing positive.
I did reach out to the Hospitals of Providence and Monique Poessiger, Communications Manager, responded with, “In regards to your questions about reporting I’d need to defer you to the city/DPH. All reporting is done and determined by them.”
So why does the County of El Paso not provide a complete number of the County of El Paso with regards to who has recovered?
To read Laura Cruz Acosta’s response of, “We are not tracking the data to that depth,” worries me.
I reached out to the City of San Elizario for help in obtaining an answer. The following is what I received from Maya Sanchez:
“We did previously reach out to get info regarding persons with positive results within the city limits and in a very broad reply to your question, through our attorney’s communication with the City of El Paso’s attorney, we were told the information being requested would not be able to be provided. The response was based on Chapter 81 of the Health & Safety Code. The reason we reached out to the City of El Paso is because we have an interlocal agreement with them (not the County) for public health services and as a result, the City of El Paso’s Public Health Dept. is our PH dept.”
I don’t blame Ms Sanchez, Mayor Antonio Araujo, or the City of San Elizario. I blame the City of El Paso for controlling the County of El Paso, County Judge Richard Samaniego and controlling just what they are going to count and not County.
Just how many people have recovered?
Can we trust the City of El Paso with its lack of transparency?
The following is a screenshots of my request to the City of El Paso and the response as well as two media requests I’ve sent to the City of El Paso and the County: