The Conversation Editor’s note: When the Trump administration ordered hospitals to report COVID-19 data to the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they had been doing, it provoked worries and criticism from public health experts. The White House said that the HHS system will provide more accurate data faster, but the switch did raise concerns that political considerations would influence what data is reported. Professor of public policy Julia Lane, who recently published the book “Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto,” explains why public data is vital to public health and democracy in general. What was the main concern over the data? The whole point of having a career civil service running public data systems is that, because they can’t be fired, they have the integrity to produce the statistics the best way possible.
As early voting started in Texas, Jill Biden, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s wife, began her tour of the state Tuesday morning in El Paso, not far from the Mexican border.Speaking to a small, socially distanced group of supporters at the University of Texas at El Paso, Biden urged people to get out and vote, saying that “for the first time in a long time,” the Democrats have an actual chance at flipping Texas from Republican rule and defeating President Donald Trump in this election.“With Joe as president you won’t read the news, shaking your head … or go to bed worrying about what our government is going to do. Because he’s going to be someone who brings out the best in us. Someone our kids can look up to,” Jill Biden said.Former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, and state Rep. Evelina Ortega joined Jill Biden on the stage at the event to energize voters and garner support for Joe Biden’s campaign.“These last four years have been some of the worst four years of our generation. We have seen the most incredible cruelty, coming from the White House,” Escobar said.
In addition to having an additional week for early voting, so three weeks instead of two, what else should voters know? El Paso County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise. We will have 35 (early voting) locations across the county. We were going to be open, some of them are 8 to 5, some 9 to 6, sometimes to 7. The last week of early voting we actually have what we’re promoting is ten till 10.
El Pasoans are casting ballots at 35 sites across the county. Borderzine staff are at many of the polling places reporting on Tuesday’s first day of early voting for the 2020 election. Here is what they’re seeing. https://twitter.com/RoxannMoreno17/status/1316040025339953163
Related story: 6 Questions About Voting Answered by El Paso County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise
Good morning, El Paso! I’m here at the Dorris Van Doren library on the west side and the early voting line is already wrapping around the building into parking lot! #EPTXVotes
Ana Maria, 74, and Jose Becerra, 80, are a high-risk couple living in El Paso. The two have illnesses that weaken their immune system and make them fearful of contracting COVID-19. After a recent surgery Ana Maria Becerra, who is my grandmother, socially distanced herself in her home to protect my grandfather from anything she may have contracted during her time at the hospital. This photo essay captures moments of their lives on a recent Saturday, nearly at the end of the two week at-home social distancing period. Married for 51 years, they struggled to stay six feet apart, manage day-to-day tasks and outwait the loneliness.
Story by Corrie Boudreaux and Angela Kocherga for El Paso Matters
CIUDAD JUAREZ – As the first day of classes neared, violinist Rodrigo Cardona Cabrera was filled with anticipation. After years of hard work and an impressive resume of performances across Mexico and the United States, the 19-year-old Ciudad Juárez native earned a scholarship to study music at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. “Of course, I’m very nervous because it’s a new experience for me,” Cardona said. “It’s like a new life. But I know that it’s going to be an amazing experience.
Nurses have been at the center of the COVID-19 health crisis helping those who are severely ill, coping with a shortage of personal protective equipment, and in some cases getting sick themselves. Borderzine reporter Gabe Montellano began interviewing Mario Murillo, an El Paso nurse, back in March for a story about Latinos in nursing. And then the pandemic happened. Here’s Murillo’s experience of working on the frontlines before and after he himself contracted COVID-19. This conversation originally aired on our partner public radio station KTEP.
By CEDAR ATTANASIO Associated Press/Report for America
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The leader of one of the largest Native American tribes in the U.S. called Wednesday for the governor of New Mexico to end efforts to fight a court ruling that orders improvements in education for members of his tribe and other vulnerable groups. The comments from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez come ahead of a court hearing next week in which Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will ask a state judge to dismiss a consolidated lawsuit representing Native American and Hispanic plaintiffs. “The lawsuit needs to be pursued so Native students can be provided adequate education programs and services necessary to learn and thrive,” Nez said. “Our students deserve an educational environment that prioritizes their culture and unique needs. It is time for our Native students to have the same opportunities as other students.”
by René Kladzyk, El Paso Matters
Daniella Perez, a 22-year-old waitress and UTEP student, lost her job when restaurants closed in mid-March as COVID-19 began spreading through El Paso. “Honestly I’m still kind of in shock. I can’t believe this whole thing. I have been trying to look for more income, but I’m scared because I live with my Mom,” Perez said. This first wave of COVID-19 job losses led more than 50,000 people in the El Paso area to file unemployment claims between March 1 and May 1, according to data from Workforce Solutions Borderplex.
El Paso – Churches across El Paso have had to adapt and become creative during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing prayer assistance on the phone, food drives and online religious services. Mayor Dee Margo announced a “Stay Home, Work Safe” order on March 24th requiring residents to only venture out for essential tasks including grocery shopping, a medical emergency and caring for family. “You know we always say in the Catholic faith that the church isn’t the building but the church is all of us together. We are all the church and if we can’t come together, we can’t come together as church,” said Fernie Ceniceros, the Public Information communications director for the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. “We wanted to make it clear to our people that that just because we’ve suspended or we’ve not allowed people to come to the public celebration of Mass – like most other diocese’s in the country – we wanted people to know that we we are celebrating Mass that’s something that’s that we felt was very critical” Ceniceros said.
The sounds of off-road vehicles grinding through the desert in east El Paso County are mostly just a memory now. The sprawling dunes area known as Red Sands is closed and Sheriff’s patrols are turning off-road enthusiasts away to limit the potential for public contact over coronavirus concerns. But, before the closure, the sounds of 4x4s filled Red Sands day and night as groups of vehicles roamed the rugged terrain, climbing over dunes and sometimes getting stuck in the soft sands. That’s when the Texas Rescue Patrol might come to the rescue. The Texas Rescue Patrol is a group of volunteers who are part of the off-roading community who respond to calls for help and try to do whatever they can for stranded vehicles or accident cases, especially in the hard-to-reach areas of the desert.
When El Paso ordered residents to stay home in March amid the coronavirus outbreak I was upset that I had to cancel my trip to Mexico City. It took me a while to take the pandemic seriously. I was still willing to travel, but thankfully my flight got canceled. Now, weeks later, my mindset is different. I now get that this is something serious.
RUIDOSO, NM — In this town where tourism is one of the biggest sectors of its economy, not having visitors can become a real problem. Ruidoso has experienced a huge drop in tourism because of COVID-19 concerns beginning with spring break, one of the village’s busiest times of year after the winter season. We actually haven’t been seeing a lot of tourism at all,” said Juan Sosa, a sales clerk at clothing store Parts Unknown in mid-March. That’s when the casinos, racetrack and ski resort saw a drop off in visitors before they closed down completely. “It’s affected the town as far as tourism quite a lot,” Sosa said.
Many Americans may find bare grocery store shelves the most worrying sign of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their food system. But, for the most part, shortages of shelf-stable items like pasta, canned beans and peanut butter are temporary because the U.S. continues to produce enough food to meet demand – even if it sometimes takes a day or two to catch up. To keep up that pace, the food system depends on several million seasonal agricultural workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other countries. These laborers pick grapes in California, tend dairy cows in Wisconsin and rake blueberries in Maine. As a sociologist who studies agricultural issues, including farm labor, I believe that these workers face particular risks during the current pandemic that, if unaddressed, threaten keeping those grocery store shelves well stocked.
The Trejo family has been careful about handwashing and using hand-sanitizer to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but when it came time to part ways near the Paso del Norte international bridge, they hugged each other. “As we were hugging, I thought, ‘Oh no, we should have given each other a little elbow tap,’” said Blanca Trejo, the 65-year-old grandmother and matriarch of the family. Her 15-year-old granddaughter Ruby Lerma Trejo said she tried not to hug too tightly but said of keeping her distance with family, “oh that’s hard.” Her grandmother, aunt and young cousins were headed back to Ciudad Juárez. She and her mother and sisters were going back to Horizon City. The Trejo family said goodbye after a recent visit as part of the family headed to Horizon City and the rest stayed in Ciudad Juárez.
By Eliza Willis, Grinnell College and Janet A. Seiz, Grinnell College
Joe Biden won Florida’s 2020 Democratic primary, capturing a majority of the state’s Latino voters. Polls have been tracking the Latino vote in Democratic presidential primaries, and many analysts are trying to predict which candidate Latinos might favor in November. Interest in Florida has been especially strong. Observers commonly speak of “the Latino vote” as if Latinos make up a distinct and unified interest group. This both overstates and understates Latinos’ uniqueness.
EL PASO – Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders fired up a nearly full Abraham Chavez theater Saturday while also heading to victory in the Nevada caucuses, hitting all the high notes and exciting his fans. Vowing to “end the hatred,” Sanders promised to change current immigration policy and no longer “snatch a baby from her mother” if people are crossing illegally and end ICE raids. The highly supportive crowd of nearly 2,500 cheered. Sanders has been critical of Trump’s policies and rhetoric, which he’s repeatedly referred to as racist and xenophobic. Before attending the rally, Sanders visited the memorial for the Aug.
Farmers markets in El Paso provide not only local produce, arts and entertainment, they also bring entrepreneurial opportunities. Mother and daughter, Mary Maskill and Arianna Romero, operate Pretty in Lemon, a lemonade stand that can be seen at nearly every farmer and artist market location. “I’ve always wanted to open a business. It’s been a dream of mine to open my own business. It’s awesome to be your own boss,” said Romero, whose parents helped her open the lemonade and simple syrup stand.Maskill shares her daughter’s space with her own business called Pretty in Paper.
A motivation program for children and teens called Real Talk that features conversations with felons and individuals convicted of crimes recently launched in El Paso. The project goal is to steer borderland children and teens away from dangerous lifestyles by getting them to engage in honest and open conversations with former convicts about the dangers of drug abuse, gang life, and crime. “The ultimate goal is to try and save as many kids as we can,” said Real Talk founder Sheree D. Corniel who launched the first project in Las Vegas in 2013. Corniel, who has 20 years of experience working in law enforcement as a U.S. probation officer and juvenile parole officer, said she hopes to launch additional branches of Real Talk at cities across the U.S. El Paso is the second Real Talk location. Even before the program’s official launch next month, Julian Morales, whose hard work and perseverance helped bring the non-profit program to the Sun City, and other Real Talk presenters have visited local middle and high schools to promote the program to students and parents.
Pursuing a college education comes with many struggles, from exams and homework to figuring out how to pay for four years or more of tuition, fees, books, room and board or commuting expenses. Last summer, the University of Texas at El Paso announced it would be offering some Texas residents who attend UTEP tuition-free college starting Fall 2020. The Paydirt Promise allows a Texas resident whose family income is less than $40,000 a year to attend college without having to pay tuition. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the median income for an El Paso family is $44,431. Along with the income requirement, a student must also complete their college education in five years.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House passed a major trade deal on Thursday that will reset the economic relationships within North America. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement passed with a 385-41 vote and will now head to the Senate, which is expected to approve it next year. The deal will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, a 1994 agreement that dramatically changed the landscape of the Texas economy. While the three countries announced the agreement a year ago, the deal hit some turbulence in the Democratically-controlled House. Many Texas lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have urged its passage, due to the state’s reliance on cross-border commerce with Mexico.
Bringing a franchise restaurant to a new city may seem easy compared to opening a business from scratch. However, being a franchisee comes with its own set of challenges. “Some franchisees don’t realize how hard it is to get started and how hard it is to make it successful. It takes time and it takes a lot of work,” says Kirk Robison, chairman and chief executive officer of Pizza Properties Inc., which owns and operates 46 Peter Piper Franchises in Texas and two in Las Cruces. In September the company bought 10 El Paso Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar locations.
As competition for talented high school athletes increases, social media is having a bigger impact in helping prospects stand out with college recruiters. Athletes often put together their top films in one video that they make themselves and post them on social media. For others, their families pay marketing businesses to manage digital promotion efforts. “I think it works for the kids who don’t know how to promote themselves through social media or whose families don’t know how to use social media”, says Margie Cortez, a parent and coach. Another option is going the old school way and pay for recruiting services that can be very pricey.
The El Paso port of entry ranks among the busiest in the nation – second to only the San Diego/Tijuana port of entry – with inbound crossings into the United States. In 2018, 12.4 million personal vehicles carrying more than 22 million passengers crossed over into the United States using the El Paso port of entry. The El Paso – Ciudad Juarez port of entry has seen an increase of trade crossings every year for the past 10 years. In 2018 the port of entry was responsible for $81.9 billion crossing. That amount is 103% more than the $40.5 billion it was responsible for in 2000, according to recent statistics.
How long would you last if you didn’t have easy access to food, water and electricity? Retired Marine Alfred Legler knows many city dwellers aren’t prepared for when a disaster may strike. That’s why he began teaching classes to help El Pasoans learn basic survival skills. “A lot of people have never been out of the city. They don’t know how to hunt, they don’t know how to fish, they can’t look down on the ground and identify what kind of plant is edible, what kind of plant might have some medicinal use.
In turnaround financial victory for student athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced Tuesday that college athletes will be allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness following a unanimous vote by the NCAA board.
The shock and sorrow felt after the Aug. 3 attack on Borderland residents at an El Paso Walmart continues to resonate throughout the community more than a month after 22 people were killed in the mass shooting. Near the site of the tragedy, an impromptu memorial of flowers, crosses and posters attracts a stream of visitors daily. Words of support are still being sent by people from around the world to try to offer some comfort. Borderzine has heard from a number of journalism professors who visited El Paso as part of the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy annual summer program that has been running for 10 years at UT El Paso. They wanted to share their own words to the community that made them feel welcome as they worked on stories about life here.
The El Paso Police Department received first call about an active shooter at the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall at 10:39 a.m. Within six minutes, first responders from around the city arrived on scene. Later, the police would determine there were no shots fired at the mall and the attack was only at the Walmart. Soon after learning of the shooting, former congressman Beto O’Rourke announced he was suspending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to return to his hometown of El Paso. The El Paso Fire Department shares a tweet confirming that the family reunification center for families looking for their loved ones is at MacArthur Middle School near Cielo Vista Mall.
At 2:10 p.m. Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting.
The recent shooting attack in which a young white man is accused of killing 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso fits a new trend among perpetrators of far-right violence: They want the world to know why they did it.
People often find it amazing that at 45 years old, Robin Crociata, a mother
of five, is as fit as a 20-year-old. Several times a week she leads students who
are spread out on purple, blue, and grey mats as they reach for their toes and lift
their chins up to the sky. “I feel that the one thing yoga does do is it gives somebody that inner
strength,” said Crociata, a yoga instructor and owner of Aloha Yoga and
Wellness Studio on the far west side of El Paso. She came to El Paso nine years ago from Hawaii, after graduating with a
psychology degree from Chaminade University in Honolulu, and has been
teaching yoga for five years. ”Make sure you’re going to a teacher that actually is certified,” Crociata