Frontline workers in El Paso, Texas told reporters Friday that a court decision to stop a city shutdown order was “a disaster for our health system, which is in near collapse.”
Texas 8th Court of Appeals ruled Thursday to issue a preliminary injunction on El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s shutdown order, effectively allowing non-essential businesses to re-open, according to previous CNN reporting.
“This order is especially a disaster for our health system, which is in near collapse here in El Paso, from the calamity just ripping through our facilities every day,” Juan Anchondo, a nurse at Las Palmas Medical Center, said on a Zoom call.
More patients are dying every day and we aren’t able to keep up. Our lives and our families are in jeopardy,” he said.
The call, which was hosted by National Nurses United, included three nurses and an El Paso City Representative.
Ariana Lucio, an RN at Del Sol Medical Center who works on the Covid-19 unit, said she was “disappointed” and “concerned” Samaniego’s order was struck down as the surge in El Paso has already “taken a very emotional and physical toll on the nurses and doctors.”
Idali Cooper, also an RN in El Paso, expressed disappointment, especially given how disproportionally Covid-19 negatively affects people of color.
“I wanted to express the importance of our voices to be heard as the Hispanic community because we are being affected here. We are the epicenter of what is going on,” Cooper said.
Cooper said she felt the court’s preliminary injunction would “have dire consequences for my community or for communities of color.”
Anchondo spoke of an increasing problem of ventilator shortages where nurses were put in the “unthinkable situation of needing to urge a family to approve withdrawal of care” because a ventilator was needed for another patient who had a better chance of survival.
“This worst case scenario is our current reality here in El Paso Country,” Anchondo said.
A county commissioner told CNN Friday that the court’s ruling was a preliminary injunction of the order and it is expected to rule Friday whether or not to invalidate the order completely or send it back to a lower court to undergo a trial. According to this official, the county will weigh their legal options once the decision is handed down.
El Paso passed the grim milestone of 70,000 cases Friday, with 70,575 total infections and a seven-day positivity rate of 20.50%, according to the city’s Covid-19 dashboard. Texas on Wednesday became the first state to report more than 1 million cases.