On Thursday afternoon, City and County of El Paso officials held a news conference about not only the sudden spike in the death rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic but also the possibility and reasons behind a possible partial curfew during Christmas and New Year's Eve holidays. I listened to the news conference live and what follows are some of the highlights:

Mayor Dee Margo opened the news conference by saying he was a little nervous about the future going forward through the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the primary health precautions for El Pasoans, wearing masks, washing your hands, and avoiding large gatherings, are still the main precautions that we should all be taking.

Margo spoke about the underlying conditions of virtually all the deaths related due to the coronavirus that have happened in El Paso since the beginning of the pandemic. He said that almost all of the people who have died of COVID-19 have had underlying conditions like hypertension and diabetes. He said because of that we need to protect our most vulnerable populations.

The mayor said the 7 day rolling average is the lowest since October 10 and that shows we are changing the trajectory of the pandemic, but there was some bad news. He said that on Thursday we are at 27% of COVID-19 hospitalization rate and because the governor said that if a county is at 15% hospitalization rate, steps must be taken until 7 consecutive days of 15% hospitalization rate can be reached. Margo then turned the news conference over to County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.

Samaniego said that we need to be cautious even though numbers of COVID-19 infections are going down. He said that if we let our guard down, we could see another spike in the numbers of hospitalizations that could overwhelm our system like it did in October and November.

Samaniego said he is assessing the possibility of a partial curfew for Christmas and New Year's Eve to focus on social gatherings and not businesses. He said that nothing can be done to disband large gatherings without a curfew, but if one is put in place, law enforcement and City and County officials can deal with them. Samaniego said that a partial curfew would be anticipating problems that have already been seen with Halloween and Thanksgiving and trying to deal with them ahead of time.

The Judge also said that we don't want to start 2021 with a spike in infections or deaths. He spoke about the vaccine that will be coming to El Paso in the next coming months and said that no one should be reluctant to take the vaccine.

During the news conference, there were other issues covered. This is the whole news conference.

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