El Paso County leader calls Abbott’s decision ‘disrespectful’ to coronavirus efforts


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego is no stranger to being at odds with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, especially when it comes to implementing precautions related to the novel coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Abbott announced he was lifting mask mandates and allowing businesses to open at 100 percent capacity against the advice from officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But Samaniego spared no words in his disappointment with the governor’s actions, warning it could set the El Paso area back in its ability to address the spread of COVID-19.

“I think it’s very disrespectful to the Biden administration who is going completely in the opposite way,” Samaniego said. “You have Dr. (Anthony) Fauci saying we should wear double masks and you have the governor of Texas saying that it’s OK not to. As I said, his directive would be equivalent to saying you don’t have to wear a seatbelt but if you want to, go ahead and use it… You wouldn’t dare make that comment.”

Samaniego says local agencies are still processing over 250 people who died due to complications from being infected with COVID-19. And, that funeral homes are still overwhelmed with the amount of work associated with helping families with their loved ones.

He is most concerned about whether El Pasoans will observe recommended social distancing methods to prevent becoming infected with the virus.

“We’re not ready. We have 5,000 cases a day in Texas, so, I don’t think any community is ready,” Samaniego said. “I think we in El Paso are least ready because of our interactions on the border.”

Samaniego and Mayor Oscar Leeser are scheduled to hold a joint news conference at 10:30 a.m. regarding plans for the region.

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