San Antonino and El Paso set curfews for Thanksgiving weekend

Southwest

EL PASO, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 18: Masks are advertised near a hand washing station amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the city on November 18, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. Texas surpassed 20,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths on November 16, the second highest in the U.S., with active cases in El Paso now over 34,000 and confirmed COVID-19 deaths at 804. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (NewsNation Now) — At least two major Texas cities have issued nightly curfews for Thanksgiving and the weekend after to help combat the spread of coronavirus, which is overrunning the border area’s hospitals and funeral homes.

 The City of San Antonio has issued a nightly curfew for Thanksgiving and the weekend afterward on Wednesday, according to a public health emergency declaration.

Violators could face up to $1,000 in fines, the declaration says.

Restaurants with dine-in service must also abide by the curfew and close at 10 p.m. and not reopen until 6 a.m. during the select dates. Drive-thru services may still continue, the declaration says. Restaurants can also be fined if they are found in violation of the curfew.

The declaration also says household gatherings shouldn’t have more than 10 people present.

On Tuesday, officials announced El Paso and El Paso County would be under a new curfew as well.

County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said the curfew would go into effect on Wednesday and would run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The curfew would end on Monday.

The curfew is not as rigid as previous ones the county has ordered during the pandemic as it is designed to stop social and recreational activities, Samaniego said. Residents will still be able to go to essential and non-essential businesses, he said.

“I will use every tool that I have such as issuing a curfew to slow the spread of this virus,” Samaniego said during a news conference.

Samaniego said he is also asking businesses to help limit large crowds during holiday shopping this weekend. He also asked residents to shelter at home and limit their outings to stores and to celebrate Thanksgiving with only the members of their household and have virtual celebrations with other relatives.

Samaniego said he worried many more people might die because of the worsening situation El Paso finds itself in.

If these guidelines are followed, “those individuals will have many, many more Thanksgivings … many more opportunities to be with their families,” he said.

Samaniego said that Gov. Greg Abbott’s office has approved the curfew.

The county judge and state officials have been at odds over Samaniego’s efforts to implement rules to slow the virus’ spread in the border city of El Paso.

Earlier this month, an appeals court overturned an El Paso County order that would have closed nonessential businesses, including gyms and salons.

Last week, the Texas National Guard sent a 36-member team to El Paso to assist morgues with the number of dead due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Jail inmates are being paid to move bodies and county leaders have offered $27 an hour for morgue workers.

Samaniego said El Paso County is currently operating 13 mobile morgues and they are holding the bodies of 236 individuals.

El Paso County is not an outlier in Texas as the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths have spiked in recent weeks across the state.

Texas has 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 21,000 deaths according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.

Dolores Espinoza, 38, a patient care assistant at Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso told The Associated Press last week that a man in his 40s being treated at her hospital for COVID-19 had to celebrate his birthday alone. His wife had recently died from the virus.

Espinoza said the cafeteria sent the man a cake and the nurses wished him a happy birthday as he cried and told them, “This is the saddest day because I have nobody.”

Espinoza said there is little to no space left in her hospital, most rooms already have two beds and every floor but hers is devoted to COVID-19 patient care.

NewsNation affiliate KXAN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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