An El Paso county judge ordered that non-essential businesses be shut down amid a surge of COVID-19 cases, and UTEP quickly followed suit, announcing the temporary closure of its campus recreation center for a period of two weeks.
On Sunday, the city of El Paso announced 1,148 new cases, which helped prompt the shutdown. ABC affiliate KVIA reports that the surge is putting strain on local hospital capacity.
1,148 new COVID-19 cases and 83 delayed testing results by the State are being reported this morning for a cumulative total of 50,114 cases. To date 17,496 cases are known to be currently active.— City of El Paso (@ElPasoTXGov) November 1, 2020
Three deaths are also being reported today for a total of 602. pic.twitter.com/r4oCfxo8WL
“UTEP serves an essential function,” school president Heather Wilson said in a Thursday release. “To protect the health of faculty, staff and students, we have directed that people work and study from home whenever possible. In addition to actions already taken, the Student Recreation Center will be closed for the next two weeks, and we have suspended on-campus dining services for the next two weeks.”
Most academic instruction is already taking place online, but other campus operations deemed essential will continue.
“The El Paso County Vote Center at UTEP will continue to be open as scheduled. University housing and the UTEP Food Pantry also will remain open,” Wilson’s release read.
Meanwhile, athletes will continue to practice and compete under NCAA and Conference USA testing protocols. The school, however, canceled its scheduled football game against the University of North Texas.