El Paso County shutters non-essential businesses to fight COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus Closed Sign

EL PASO, Texas (Talk1370.com) -- Following an overwhelming rise in COVID-19 cases, El Paso County officials on Thursday ordered a two-week shutdown of non-essential activities.

Beginning at midnight Thursday, a number of services including tattoo, hair, and nail salons, gyms, and in-person dining in restaurants are all ordered to close within the county. Residents are also being urged to avoid any non-essential activities.

"Our hospitals are at capacity, our medical professionals are overwhelmed, and if we don’t respond we will see unprecedented levels of death," said County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.

Grocery and drug stores, funeral homes, health care services and government activities were among the activities deemed essential, along with election-related activities.

The move is the latest step by county officials to try and combat a new surge in the virus, following a daily curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. that went into effect Sunday night.

El Paso County has reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases each day for the past week. Thursday, officials reported two new deaths, bringing the total in the county to 585, along with 1,128 new positive tests, bringing the total number of active cases to more than 14,000.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office tweeted Thursday evening that Samaniego "has no authority to shut down businesses in El Paso County," calling the shutdown a direct violation of Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order.