El Paso Mayor Discusses Catastrophic COVID Spike

El Paso, Texas has been hit particularly hard by a spike in the COVID-19 pandemic. The city is recording around 1,000 cases per day, hospitals are overflowing, and inmates have been recruited to help transport bodies of the dead. Christiane speaks with the city’s mayor about the dire situation.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me ask you, where are they coming from? And what is it that’s helping you get the curve — as you say, you’re doing a little better today than you did yesterday, thank goodness. What is helping you do that? Because I know that you actually — you’re a Republican, but you don’t mind masks, and you have supported the use of masks. But you don’t like the idea of a lockdown. And there’s a bit of a back-and- forth over how that’s gone with the court order and all the rest of it. How are you getting it down, then, this case — these cases?

DEE MARGO, MAYOR OF EL PASO: Well, first of all, everything seems to point to human behavior, the failure to wear the mask and maintain the distancing and do that. When we talked to our counterparts in the Rio Grande Valley, they said most of their positives, after they did their deep dive into the data after it settled down, was mostly home gatherings. Now, what we have gathered — we did an analysis from November the 10th through November the 16th of all of our positives. And we found out that 55.11 percent were coming from shopping at what we could call the big box stores. And those are considered essential. And, under federal guidelines, if I wanted to shut them down, I couldn’t anyway. So it didn’t make sense just to go out there and deal with that. What we have tried to do is, I have done a couple of things. We have asked that families in El Paso — in our nature, our border culture, it’s a family event to go shopping, always has been. And so we have asked that families restrict the number of people who shopping to one, if possible. If you’re a single parent, we understand you are going to have to take your kids. We have asked the big box retailers, the Walmarts and others, to do metering, which is limiting their occupancy in their stores. We can’t shut them down, but we can ask for voluntary metering. Walmart announced yesterday that they would go along with that. We have reached out to other of the big box stores as well to receive some kind of voluntary agreement. We have reduced the restaurant, bar restaurant, bar hours from — to 9:00 p.m. I did that about a month ago, almost five weeks ago, takeout only after that. We seem to think that that is starting to materialize into some…



MARGO: We’re also finding out that people were just leaving the bars or the restaurants and going elsewhere and congregating and continuing to drink.

About This Episode EXPAND

Reporter Nima Elbagir gives a special report on Nigeria’s crackdown on peaceful protesters. El Paso’s mayor Dee Margo discusses the catastrophic COVID spike in West Texas. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas E. Ricks discusses his new book “First Principles.” Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias argues that when it comes to America’s population size, bigger is better.