The Civic Center is being converted to a medical center. Funeral homes here have had to bring in extra refrigeration. Non-Covid patients are being flown by Life Flight to other cities to free up beds. The president continues to promise that a vaccine will be coming “very soon, very soon”. I wish Mr. Trump would let us know WHEN “soon” is so we can be sure not to catch Covid before then.

Mayor Dee Margo has been on the national news and one of the things he has talked about are the results of contact tracing on 2,404 cases that was conducted earlier this month. You may be surprised (I was) about where the tracing says people in El Paso are getting Covid-19. The number one spot is not a bar or a restaurant or sporting event. Let’s count it down.

6.) LARGE GATHERINGS

Large gatherings account for only 4% in the contact tracing report. This is somewhat surprising as “avoid large gatherings” has been right up there with “wash your hands” and “wear a mask” on the Mayor’s advice when we have him on the MoSho. I still think it’s good idea to avoid crowds, especially right now.

5.) GYMS

7.5%. Again, a little surprising. Gyms, along with bars, were among the places that got closed first AND for the longest. A listener suggested that maybe people have given up on going to the gym and THAT’s why the numbers are so low.

4.) PARTIES AND REUNIONS

These made up 10% in the contact tracing study. Now I’m getting a little confused. When does a “party” become a “large gathering”? 20 people? 200? More importantly, do the people being traced know the distinction? Because I sure don’t.

3.) TRAVEL TO MEXICO

19% of the contact tracing led back to visiting Mexico. OK, but some people go to parties and reunions in Mexico. I’m sure some people go to the gym in Mexico. The Juarez mayor is urging Mexico to ban Americans from crossing the border. Maybe this was Trump’s plan all along. Let the Covid pandemic get SO far out of control that Mexico actually DOES pay to build a border wall!

2.) RESTAURANTS

22.5% of cases were traced to dining at restaurants. Hold on before you assume this let’s bars off the hook. Bars that are open now are actually considered restaurants because of loopholes in the guidelines. Today, October 27, 2020, if a bar is open in El Paso, it’s a restaurant.

1.) BIG BOX STORES

Not a store that sells big boxes, I found out. Big box stores are you’re Wal-Marts, Sam’s Clubs and Best Buys. They account for 37% of positive covid cases! 37!! I don’t know the margin of error or how accurate this kind of tracing can actually be but that number is stunning. Throughout the pandemic, to date, big box retailers have been one of THE MOST untouchable categories as far as closures and restrictions go. Sure, masks are required and early on there were sometimes lines because of occupancy restrictions. But those days seem like a distant memory. People in El Paso still do a good job of masking up but I haven’t seen a line outside a Wal-Mart in MONTHS.

Oh, and during that interview with CNN, Mayor Margo imparted this advice: “Wear your face covering. Maintain your distancing. Avoid large gatherings.” So…the exact same wording we’ve been hearing since March. How’s that been workin’ out?