Officials in Texas have tightened restrictions in El Paso County as of Oct. 29 following a considerable increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Authorities have imposed a nightly 2200-0500 curfew in the county through at least Nov. 8, during which hours only persons responding to emergencies or providing essential services may be outside their homes. A shelter-at-home order has also been issued, requiring residents to remain home during the day, except to perform essential tasks, such as obtaining medical help or necessary supplies, engaging in outdoor exercise activities, working at an essential service, or caring for a family member in another household. Election-related activities are also considered essential. Authorities also encourage all nonessential businesses to cease activities within their facilities, except for drive-through or takeout services.
Elsewhere in Texas, all businesses, except bars and similar establishments, may increase their operations to 75-percent capacity if they are located in counties where COVID-19 patients make up less than 15 percent of hospitalizations over a seven-day rolling average; in counties with higher hospitalization rates, businesses must operate at 50-percent capacity. Bars and similar establishments may also increase their capacity to 50-percent in some areas with permission from local authorities.
Texas remains on Phase 3 of its economic recovery plan, under which movie theaters, office-based businesses, amusement parks, personal care businesses, childcare centers, youth camps, and worship places, can operate. Professional, collegiate, and recreational sports events are also allowed. Rafting and tubing businesses remain closed, however. Local officials must approve outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.
All businesses that operate must train their employees to use safety measures, provide protective face coverings, enhance sanitation procedures, and enforce social distancing. The use of face coverings is mandatory in any indoor or outdoor public space in all counties with 20 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Transport and business disruptions remain likely. Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Monitor for updates from the authorities. Reconfirm medical appointments. Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.