Coronavirus: Live Updates from The Big Bend Sentinel and Presidio International (ARCHIVED)

This live article has been archived and some information is out of date. Visit https://bigbendsentinel.com/2020/05/27/live-updates/ to see the latest updates regarding coronavirus and the tri-county region.

LAST UPDATED 5/27 4:15 p.m.

TIMELY UPDATES:

(5/23 3:37 p.m.)
The first confirmed case of coronavirus in Presidio County was announced by County Judge Cinderela Guevara, today, Saturday, 5/23. “The case is a female in her 40s and is a travel related case,” a press release read. The Texas Department of State Health Services’ local region is conducting contact tracing to identify if anyone was in contact with the impacted individual. The individual was tested at a PCHS clinic, not through drive-through testing.

The first confirmed case of coronavirus in the tri-county area was an adult in their 60s in South Brewster County, who has since recovered.

According to the latest state figures on Tuesday, May 26, there is one case in Presidio County, one case in Brewster County, one case in Hudspeth County, 27 cases in Pecos County, 7 in Reeves County, 2,461 cases in El Paso, 152 in Ector County, 125 in Midland County, 14 in Val Verde County, one in Ward County and 22 in Crane County.

Tri-county area physicians have confirmed that there are also presumed positive cases in the region. Due to low availability of testing in the area, some cases which doctors assume are coronavirus are not being tested. Texas is one of the worst-ranked states for testing per capita.

1,562 Texans have died from coronavirus, 57,921 Texans are known to have the virus and around 961,861 people in the state have been tested (including 855,674 people who received viral tests rather than antibody ones). We are staying in regular contact with health authorities, schools, businesses and other officials and will update if and when this changes, with timestamps for time-sensitive updates.

(5/21 7:54 p.m.)
There are now at least nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ojinaga, including six men and three women, according to Martín Sánchez, the mayor of Ojinaga.

(5/1 6:00 p.m.)
Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara rescinded the continuation of the ordinance that limited hotels, motels and short term rentals on Friday evening, 5/1. The county received a phone call from Jeff Oldham, counsel to Governor Greg Abbott’s office, informing them that the local order was more restrictive than the Governor’s, and thus was unlawful. Hotels, motels and short term rentals may open for operation immediately, with no restrictions on capacity.

(4/30 4:39 p.m.)
In a news release Thursday afternoon, 4/30, officials in Brewster County announced the first known coronavirus case in the tri-county region. The patient is in their 60s, lives in South Brewster County and was tested at one of the local drive-through testing sites this weekend. At press time, officials were not yet sure how the individual was infected — though the case is under investigation. The Texas Department of State Health Services has not updated their data to reflect the newly confirmed case. The patient has been ordered to quarantine at home.

(4/30 4:31 p.m.)
Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara on Thursday afternoon said additional drive-thru testing by the National Guard would occur on May 10 in Fort Davis and May 11 in the City of Presidio. More information will be released — though officials are now saying that residents do not have to have symptoms to get tested.

(4/30 4:27 p.m.)
Officials in Brewster and Jeff Davis counties decided on Thursday to allow their emergency orders to expire and will instead follow Governor Greg Abbott’s reopening plan. On the other hand, officials in Presidio County on Thursday afternoon voted to extend hotel closures to all but nonessential workers until May 15, echoing a decision made by Marfa city leaders at a Wednesday night meeting.

(4/27 2:57 p.m.)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced today his stay-at-home order will expire as planned on April 30, and a reopening plan will go into effect. Abbott explained a phased approach, and more on his announcement can be found here.

(4/24 3:54 p.m.)
As part of an order extending its local disaster declaration this week, the City of Presidio is now requiring that people wear face-coverings over their mouth and nose while working or shopping at an essential business like a grocery store. Previously, the City of Presidio had only recommended that people “should” do so.

“We feel that things are starting to loosen up,” Presidio mayor John Ferguson said of state precautions during the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re of the mindset it’s not time for that yet.”

(4/23 6:58 p.m.)
Local authorities in Presidio and Brewster counties have released more information on when, where and how residents can obtain coronavirus testing in Marfa and Alpine (on Saturday, April 25) and in Presidio and Terlingua (on Sunday, April 26). Click below for more details on testing in:

(4/22 4:27 p.m.)
Testing will happen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in Marfa and Alpine, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday for Presidio and Terlingua. (Outlying towns can still submit for testing at these locations.) Testing is free and appointments can be solicited by calling (512) 883-2400.

To be eligible for testing, you must have one or more symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include: Fever and/or chills, cough (dry or productive), fatigue, body aches/muscle or joint pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, nasal congestion and/or loss of taste and/or smell.

(4/22 4:25 p.m.)
Big Bend Community Action will give rides for testing in Presidio and Marfa for 50 cents each way. Children under 5 get a free ride. Call 432-729-4908 ext. 115 for more information or to set up a ride. They will give rides from the smaller surrounding towns and colonias, but need to know by Friday.

(4/22 12:33 p.m.)
In a late Tuesday announcement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told local officials that the National Guard would be conducting testing in Marfa, Presidio, Alpine and Terlingua as part of a testing effort throughout the state. Testing is scheduled for Marfa on Saturday and Presidio city on Sunday. Details for when, where and how residents can access testing are forthcoming. Abbott said each facility would have the capacity to test up to 150 people, though local officials have heard that 60 to 80 tests will be provided at each testing site in the region.

(4/20 5:25 p.m.)
Jeff Davis County extended their emergency orders until April 30 at a meeting today.

(4/20 12:40 p.m.)
The young man infected with coronavirus in Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico has been announced as recovered.

(4/20 12:28 p.m.)
As the state parks plan their reopenings today, many in our region remain closed. Big Bend Ranch, Hueco Tanks and Franklin Mountains will remain closed as they were either unable to logistically open, or, in the El Paso area, are still monitoring the growing caseload in the area.

Governor Greg Abbott has announced a reopening plan for Texas today. In an address, the governor said state parks would reopen next week. He also announced that schools will remain closed through the end of the school year. He plans to roll out a number of executive orders to reopen parts of the economy.

Here’s what else we know so far. You can also use the links below to skip to the relevant section:

Information from local, state and federal authorities

Schools, churches and non-governmental institutions

Business and event closures

Hospitals and medical updates

Precautions and staying safe

Rumors and misinformation

Links to important coverage at other outlets/across the state

INFORMATION FROM LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL AUTHORITIES

Local

In a supplemental disaster declaration on Thursday, Marfa city officials further tightened restrictions on rentals by banning long-term rental agreements between landlords and anyone who isn’t a permanent tri-county resident. Like the hotel rules, these new restrictions also make exceptions for essential personnel. In adopting the tighter rules, officials cited concerns with visitors who “see Marfa as a ‘safe haven’ to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic” and the use of “‘Escape to Marfa during COVID-19’-type advertising by local rental owners.”

Marfa City Council on 3/26 passed a shelter-in-place order and ordinance extending the local disaster declaration. The rules require bars and hotels to remain closed (with some exceptions), re-affirm state price-gouging rules and recommend that evictions and other payments be stopped. Full story here. The city has put out a fact sheet explaining the basics of the order. Read the fact sheet here.

Brewster County on 3/23 ordered hotels and short-term rentals to close to guests. There are a couple exemptions, including for healthcare workers and people who use a short-term rental as their primary residence.

In an amended disaster declaration on Monday (3/23), Jeff Davis County said it would shut down hotels, short-term rentals, RV rentals and campgrounds as a precaution against coronavirus. The declaration includes exemptions for some workers, including active military personnel, Texas National Guardsmen and seasonal volunteers and employees at groups like the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center.

In a unanimous vote at a city-council meeting, the City of Presidio expanded its disaster declaration and added new measures, including guidance that Presidio residents “should” wear face coverings while out in public. The City of Presidio on 3/19 declared a local disaster in response to coronavirus. The move bans gatherings of more than 250 people and will allow the city to set up quarantine stations and take other public-health measures.

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara on Tuesday (3/17) evening declared a local disaster in response to coronavirus. The move will allow county officials to act quickly in the event of a local crisis.

Presidio County judges will conduct work via teleconference until further notice. The county courthouse is closed to the public, and the sheriff’s office will screen 911 callers for coronavirus symptoms. Full story here.

The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office has suspended all visitation at the jail, on orders of Governor Greg Abbott. Attorneys will still be permitted to visit clients, so as not to impact the court system. A statement said attorneys will be screened prior to entry into the facility.

In a statement Wednesday (3/18), Jeff Davis County said it planned to issue a local disaster declaration in response to coronavirus.

The Jeff Davis County courthouse will be closed from Monday, March 16, until at least Friday, March 20, or until further notice. Anyone with scheduled hearings or appointments during that time should contact the appropriate court office, officials said.

Brewster County on Wednesday (3/18) declared a local state of disaster in response to coronavirus. The county adopted special measures in response to coronavirus. Patients at Big Bend Regional Medical Center will be limited to two designated visitors, and prenatal and diabetic classes — as well as scheduled Health Fairs in Marfa and Terlingua — are cancelled, officials said Tuesday.

In Alpine, officials are asking locals self-quarantine for 14 days if they’ve come back from an area with coronavirus. They’re asking locals to do errands like shopping for older people and people with health issues. They’re urging restaurants to space out their tables (for larger restaurants) or switch to delivery and take-out only (for smaller restaurants).

Marfa City Hall and the Visitor Center at the Historic USO Building are closed to the public until further notice. Bills can still be paid at the door slot at City Hall, and city employees will still be working and answering phones. Marfa mayor Manny Baeza said that the city’s Meals on Wheels program will switch to delivery-only beginning Monday (3/16), and will close its dining  room at the Nutrition Center. The city encourages people who are immunocompromised to stay home. The library is closed.

State

Governor Greg Abbott extended his executive order in response to coronavirus. Restaurants will remain to-go only, businesses like massage and tattoo parlors will also close, and social gatherings outside of people in a household are barred. The rules will remain in effect until at least April 30, and schools will remain closed until at least May 4.

A federal judge on Monday (3/30) blocked a Texas order halting most abortions. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had previously banned most abortions until at least April 21 after Governor Greg Abbott ordered a stop to all medical procedures deemed not “medically necessary.”

Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday (3/27) issued an executive order requiring people to self-quarantine for 14 days (or for the duration of their time in Texas if they’re here for less than 14 days) if they’re arriving in Texas via plane from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or New Orleans. The order, now expanded, covers those who drive in from Louisiana, or arrive by plane from Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Atlanta, or Chicago and by any airport in California and Washington state.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday (3/23) order all abortions in Texas to stop through at least April 21 unless the mother’s life is in danger. The move comes after Governor Greg Abbott ordered a halt on all medical operations deemed not “medically necessary.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday (3/23), requesting a major disaster declaration for the State of Texas, similar to earlier declarations for New York and Washington.
“I have determined that the current coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments, and that supplementary federal assistance is necessary to save lives, to protect property, public health, and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a larger disaster,” Abbott wrote in his plea. He asked that the declaration include direct federal assistance for all 254 Texas counties.

In a executive order on Thursday, (3/19), Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered gyms, schools and bars to close and restaurants to switch to to-go service only. The order also imposes visiting restrictions on nursing homes and retirement centers. The rules go into effect Friday (3/20) at midnight and last through at least April 3.

Governor Greg Abbott on Friday (3/13) officially declared a state of disaster over coronavirus. In a statement, the Texas Medical Association said the announcement was “warranted and beneficial” and urged Texans to practice “calm vigilance.” On a teleconference with local officials on Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said supply of coronavirus tests in Texas currently outpace demand, that the state is hopeful there will not be a shortage, and that Small Business Administration loans could be “a lifeline” for businesses currently experiencing economic impact from the coronavirus. Full story here.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has closed all of its locations, including area parks like Davis Mountain State Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Governor Greg Abbott has temporarily closed all Department of Public Safety driver license offices. The temporary closure does not apply to those seeking an initial Commercial Driver License (CDL). More information on online renewal is available here. The DPS is temporary extending expiration dates on ID cards and driver’s licenses, the agency said Monday (3/16). Expired licenses will be considered valid if the expiration date on the card is on or after March 13, 2020. The rules will apply for 60 days after the end of the statewide State of Disaster declaration.

Federal
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will keep social distancing guidelines in place at least through the end of April.

Fort Davis National Historic Site is modifying operations in response to coronavirus. The visitors’ center, restrooms and historic buildings are closed, and gatherings of more than 10 people are suspended. The site will also limit staff interactions with the public. Grounds and trails remain open, and entry fees are waived for visitors.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday (3/25) granted a major disaster declaration for Texas. The move will “speed our ability to robustly respond to coronavirus,” Governor Greg Abbott said on social media.

Big Bend Ranch State Park has closed all park headquarters, stores, visitors centers and campsites for the health and well-being of park visitors and staff.

The U.S. Treasury has pushed back the April 15 tax filing deadline to July 15.

President Donald Trump on Friday (3/20) announced a closure of the US-Mexico border to nonessential travel, beginning at midnight. He also suggested the closure could last “even beyond” the coronavirus pandemic.

Big Bend National Park on Saturday (3/21) announced all lodging, camping and overnight backcountry use will close until further notice, effective Monday, March 23 at 12 p.m.. All visitor centers are closed. Big Bend National Park will remain open for day use only.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday night (3/15) said there should be no events with 50 or more people in the United States for the next eight weeks. Such events should be cancelled or postponed, the CDC said. President Donald Trump recommended gatherings no greater than 10.

At a press conference in the White House Rose Garden on Friday (3/13), President Donald Trump officially declared a national emergency in response to coronavirus. Trump said the move would expand response funding by billions of dollars. He also promised other actions, including purchasing oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help shore up the currently struggling oil-and-gas industry.

 

SCHOOLS, CHURCHES AND NON-GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS

A Brewster County pandemic relief fundraiser has been launched. To donate to the relief fund online, visit bigbendaid.org or the crowdfunding campaign page at fundrazr.com/bigbendC-19.  The fund is now taking online applications for direct assistance at bigbendaid.org. The Marathon post office, Terlingua Crisis Center, WesTex Community Credit Union, and Alpine Community Credit Union are serving as pick-up and drop-off locations for printed applications.

Texas schools are closed through at least Friday, April 3 by order of Governor Greg Abbott. Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath says they may be closed for the remainder of the school year. TEA has waived standardized STAAR testing requirements for Texas students for the 2019-2020 school year.

Presidio ISD is providing free curbside meal pickup to anyone under the age of 18. Children must be present to receive the meals, which include breakfast and lunch. The service runs Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the bus drop-off location at Presidio Elementary School.

Marfa ISD is providing free breakfast and lunch to anyone under the age of 18. Children must be present at pick-up to receive the meals. The locations/times for the meal pickups are: the Mando’s parking lot from 9 a.m. until 9:20; the apartments on Spring and Columbia from 9:00 until 9:20; Porter’s Field from 9:20 until 9:40; the USDA building on Avenue D from 9:20 until 9:40; the Blackwell Playground  from 9:40 until 10:00; and Marfa Villa from 9:40 until 10:00. The Robertson Cafeteria will also be open for drive-by pick up from 9 until 10 a.m..

Fort Davis ISD will extend home-based instruction through Friday, April 17, due to the new CDC and governmental guidelines. The district will follow its published schedules for assignment pick-up and drop-off each Monday for elementary students. The junior-senior high school will be strictly online instruction and assignments. Teachers will send periodic communication to students via email, or to parents via phone.

Alpine ISD will provide curbside lunch service to students from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m. daily, the school district said on Friday, 3/13.

Sul Ross State University will not have face-to-face classes for the remainder of the semester, and all upcoming university events — including the Alumni Gala, Trappings of Texas, Honors Convocation, Sully Showcase, Scholars Luncheon, Alumni Ring Ceremony and the May 2020 Commencement exercises in Alpine and Eagle Pass — are cancelled until further notice, university president Bill Kibler said on Monday (3/16).

The dining hall is discontinuing self-service and will instead offer to-go meals to on-campus residents.

A Saturday (3/14) announcement from Sul Ross State University says President Bill Kibler is authorizing emergency paid leave for various categories of employees, including student workers.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Marfa is live-streaming their 10 a.m. Sunday worship service on their Facebook page and is offering Zoom classes. Those who need errands run on their behalf can contact the church. The church itself is open 24 hours and is accepting food donations for the Marfa Food Pantry. Updates on the Holy Week schedule are forthcoming. Call Vicar Mike Wallens at 214-862-7292 or email stpaulsmarfatx@gmail.com.

Pastor Ernesto Zubia at Iglesia Cristiana Jesus es Rey church in Marfa is asking churchgoers to stay home if they don’t feel well.

The Unitarian Universalists of the Big Bend church in Alpine has suspended services until the end of March

In a statement, the Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend said it will continue to provide resources to domestic-violence and assault survivors during the coronavirus crisis and asks that people please call ahead to make an appointment. The numbers for assistance and appointments are 432-837-7254 for Alpine, 432-229-4297 for Presidio and 432-371-3147 for Terlingua. The group’s emergency hotline is also available 24/7 at 1-800-834-8256.

BUSINESS AND EVENT CLOSURES
Need to provide an update to us? Email editor@bigbendsentinel.com

Closed

  • The Big Bend Sentinel offices are closed to the public, but staff is actively working and can be reached at editor@bigbendsentinel.com
  • Marfa Public Radio’s lobby is closed, but staff are working
  • The Chinati Foundation
  • Judd Foundation
  • Ballroom Marfa
  • The Marfa and Presidio County Museum
  • The Capri
  • Stellina
  • Food Shark
  • Aster
  • Restaurant Cochineal
  • The Sentinel coffee shop and bar
  • exhibitions2d gallery
  • The McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis
  • Marfa Wine Co.
  • Big Bend Coffee Roasters is closed to the public
  • Planet Marfa
  • The Desert Veil
  • Reckless Rings
  • Esperanza Vintage
  • Magic Hour Marfa
  • Library film screenings
  • Farmstand Marfa
  • Blue Water Natural Foods Company
  • El Cosmico
  • The Paisano Hotel
  • Hotel Saint George
  • The Presidio County Appraisal District is reachable by phone or by email during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m..
  • Big Bend Telephone has closed its lobbies but continues to provide service
  • The American Legion on 118 going into Terlingua

 

Online

 

Open

  • The Get Go is open
  • Porter’s is open, with senior hours from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • El Camino (+ drinks from The Lost Horse) is delivery and to-go only
  • Convenience West is open Saturdays, order ahead through their website
  • Jett’s Grill is to-go from 5-9 p.m.
  • Buns n Roses is open Friday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for takeout
  • Al Campo is to-go only
  • Marfa Maid is open with extra precautions
  • Pizza Foundation is to-go only
  • The Water Stop is delivery and to-go only
  • Do Your Thing is open for to-go orders from Thursday through Monday 9am-1pm with online ordering at shop.doyourthing.us
  • Frama is open for to-go orders
  • Stage Stores — which runs Gordmans, Bealls, Goodys, Palais Royal, Peebles, and Stage — is closing select stores  and changing hours in response to coronavirus. The new hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Dollar General announced it would dedicate the first hour of shopping to senior customers in an effort to minimize their contacts with people who might have coronavirus. At the company’s Marfa location, the first hour of shopping runs from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m..

The Workforce Solutions Borderplex has closed its physical locations, but the group still urges people to take advantage of its remote services, available online at borderplexjobs.com, by phone at 915-887-2600 or via email at callcenter@borderplexjobs.com. Leila Melendez, CEO of WSB said, “Our staff provides effective job search support and we can help navigate unemployment benefits.” 

The Food Pantry of Jeff Davis County has adopted special rules in response to coronavirus concerns. Visitors will be allowed inside one-by-one, and — while they’ll still get to choose food items — staff and volunteers will collect and bag those items, the group’s executive director said.

The Blackwell School Alliance has cancelled its 2020 Blackwell Block Party & Community Charrette, originally scheduled for Thursday, April 23, through Saturday, April 25, BSA president Gretel Enck said.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid says they will “continue operations during this public health emergency but our offices will not be open to the public.” Applicants can reach the hotline at 888-988-9996.

 

HOSPITALS AND MEDICAL UPDATES

There have so far been 32 coronavirus tests conducted in the tri-county area, Ekta Escovar, a member of the local COVID-19 task force and the local health authority for Brewster County, said at a City of Alpine council meeting on Tuesday night. Twenty-three tests have been negative, while nine are still pending. The Big Bend Regional Medical Center has so far been unwilling to release testing figures, citing patient-privacy concerns — but Escovar said the area had now done enough tests that it could safely disclose testing figures without violating privacy rules. These testing figures mean tricounty authorities are testing 1.7 people per every 1,000, compared to 3 in 1,000 for more hard-hit parts of the state, like Dallas, according to Escovar. Health authorities wanted to release this information, she said, “to reassure the public that we are testing.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has granted over $666,000 in funds to Preventative Care Health Services. That’s in addition to a previous $59,733 disbursement.

The Big Bend Regional Medical Center is implementing visiting restrictions and will not be serving the public at its cafeteria, the hospital said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is distributing extra medical supplies to hospitals and health-care providers, the agency said. The supplies, which come from the Strategic National Stockpile, include medications and personal protective equipment.

Dr. Ekta Escovar at the Big Bend Regional Medical Center is recommending West Texans self-quarantine for 14 days if they’ve recently traveled to high-risk areas in the United States. As of March 13, those areas are: California, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, Boston, the Chicago area, the Dallas/Fort Worth area and the Houston area.

The Big Bend Sentinel/Presidio International has a story with full updates on coronavirus from the Big Bend Regional Medical Center. Among the key takeaways: the hospital has no coronavirus tests but is instead testing for flu, and — in the event that any area residents suffer from severe/critical coronavirus symptoms — they will likely be transported to El Paso.

 

PRECAUTIONS AND STAYING SAFE

The Texas Department of State Health Services is now recommending Texans change plans to help protect themselves and other members of the public from coronavirus. Specific recommendations include: cancelling large gatherings, avoiding all non-essential travel and practicing social distancing. For individuals, that could mean avoiding social gatherings and public spaces when possible. People with coronavirus can spread the disease before they show symptoms.

Local health authorities are advising that people avoid touching their face and wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. A handwashing guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available here. Health authorities are also suggest that people keep their surroundings, including their clothing, clean, as coronavirus can also survive on surfaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a guide on cleaning surfaces, and the American Chemistry Council has a guide of recommended cleaning products.

For individuals who worry they might have been exposed to coronavirus, health officials ask that people contact hospitals and doctors by phone rather than visiting in person. Health care providers will evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether individuals should come in for care. Preventative Care Health Services said on Wednesday it has five tests at each of its Marfa, Alpine and Presidio city locations. Its clinics also have separate entrances for anyone suspected of having the virus.

 

RUMORS AND MISINFORMATION

The United States Postal Service and local post offices will remain open. Rumors that USPS is closing are FALSE.

Rumors that Marfa-based Judd Foundation workers are self-quarantining because they had any contact with coronavirus patients are FALSE, the foundation said. Those workers are self-quarantining as a precautionary measure at the advice of the Big Bend Regional Medical Center, according to the foundation.

Rumors that the Presidio/Ojinaga port of entry has closed over coronavirus fears are FALSE, according to the City of Presidio. However, travel restrictions on the US-Mexico border have since been imposed.

Rumors that one to three visitors in Terlingua are suspected to have coronavirus, or that there are currently confirmed cases at Big Bend Regional Medical Center, are FALSE, according to local law-enforcement and the hospital.

Rumors that any number of Marfa ISD students are suspected to have coronavirus are FALSE, according to MISD Superintendent Oscar Aguero and Dr. J.P. Schwartz.

Rumors that Hotel Saint George is under quarantine or has any suspected cases are FALSE, according to the hotel and a statement from the City of Marfa regarding coronavirus in general.

The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office asks that locals and visitors please be mindful of rumors and misinformation regarding coronavirus on social media and elsewhere.

 

The El Paso Times reports that the City of El Paso has issued a “Stay safe, work safe” policy that orders residents to stay home unless they work at an “essential business.”

Ciudad Juárez in Mexico has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, the El Paso Times reported.

Marfa Public Radio, which on Friday (3/13) published further guidance on coronavirus prevention and safety, is helping clear up some of the fears and confusion around coronavirus testing. While the Big Bend Regional Medical Center doesn’t have coronavirus tests, it can send samples to three labs, including two national private labs and a state-run one in El Paso.

 

Precautions over the current coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) have reached the Big Bend region. Local governments, medical professionals and businesses in the tri-county area are rapidly adjusting their operations in preparation for the virus, in hopes of preventing its arrival in the Big Bend area. The Big Bend Sentinel and Presidio International are working to bring the most up-to-date news on medical information, school closures and other vital updates regarding this evolving situation.


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