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El Paso reports highest daily COVID-19 growth yet, a possible sign of Easter breakdown of social distancing

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El Paso County reported 74 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest daily count yet and a possible ominous sign that many El Pasoans relaxed compliance with social distancing orders over Easter.

The county has recorded 780 COVID-19 cases since March 13. The county’s growth rate of new cases had been on the decline for two weeks before Saturday’s sharp rise.

Two more COVID-19 deaths were reported Saturday, bringing the county’s total to 12.

“The public must remember there is no vaccine for this disease; which is why we continue to stress that each person must take responsibility and follow the local directive,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the city-county health authority. “Everyone should strictly adhere to the directive by staying home and not go out unless it is for essential purposes. If you must go out wear a face covering and continue to wash your hands often with soap and water.”

El Paso officials had repeatedly expressed concerns that El Paso’s compliance with the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order would weaken over Easter as families held traditional gatherings for the holiday.

Sunday marks 14 days since Easter, the incubation period for COVID-19. Lab results of COVID-19 tests often take three to five days to come back, so the full impact of any Easter breakdown may not be known until the end of next week.

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. He spent most of his career at the El Paso Times, serving in a variety of leadership roles. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including Pulitzer Prize finalist, the Burl Osborne award for editorial leadership, the James Madison Award from the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation, the Jack Douglas Award from Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership from the Texas Press Association. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Association. As a freelance journalist, Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on the border by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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